Thursday, May 22, 2014

Portlandia.

So, I said I was going to take a month hiatus from the blog world.  I have been sticking with it, no posting or reading the usual ones I enjoy.  But, 20 days in and I miss it.  I thought for sure it had been a month already, so since it feels like it has been I'm gonna go with it.  My purpose for taking a break was to see if I still enjoyed it and obviously if I am missing...both reading and writing....then there's my answer.  I did do some writing on my own, but found it didn't happen as regularly as I thought it would.  Something about the blog holds me more accountable to actually do it.  I like doing it in this space.  Keeping the memories from our family time.  Sorting my thoughts.  Being creative.  I can't find a negative so onward and upward.

Maybe I felt compelled to write again because after a road trip with my hubby I have many fun memories bouncing around in my head I want to get them down so I won't forget.  Vacations rock.  They are hard to come home from.  Back to real world responsibilities and no brunch in the middle of the week.  No afternoon brewery tours.  I love our real world day-to-day, but like all things it's nice to change it up a bit.  I like to write about vacation because months later when I re-read it, I can go back to that place and get that vacation feeling.  

Let's begin...

Oh, sweet Portland.  The city where Matt and I spent our newlywed time.  We moved there right after our honeymoon and unfortunately we did not give the city the appreciation it deserved at the time.  Sure, it was awesome to be someplace new and try new things, but a combination of too many changes at once and a lot of dreary rainy days quickly brought us back to sunny Montana.  Almost fourteen years later and it now seems as if it is our perfect city.  It goes to show you at 36 we are very different people than we were at 22.  However, the rain is still rough there and I didn't see any sandy beaches so for now I'll keep it as a favorite vacation spot.  

We dropped our girls off at school and hit the road...

The trip seemed long, but my excitement eased the distance.  By the time we began to follow the river up the Gorge memories of being in the car all day long began to fade.  Once there, freshly rejuvenated from being back we headed out in search of food.  That is the greatest thing about Portland...it is the most walkable city.  After 12 hours in the car, we parked her and didn't get in again for days.  That's the way to see a city...the neighborhoods, the parks, the small street full of boutiques and quaint coffee shops.  You can so easily miss that in a car.  After a ten block stroll we headed into a jazz club for food and music.  Yet, another thing I love about this place...you can find music anywhere.  And the variety!  One night was jazz, the next night a total hippie band in a dive bar and another day a young girl and her guitar singing an acoustic version of Macklemore's Thrift Shop.  Love it.  

Before any trip, I am the planner.  I try to find a balance of knowing some things to go do, but having flexibility for the trip to go on its own.  We had nothing we had to do until Saturday evening's wedding...the reason we were on this adventure.  Sometimes I wish I could be one of those people who could just wing it, but I have to do some planning.  I feel like in a big city you can miss some of the gems by winging it.  I also don't like to get trapped into the touristy things so I avoid TripAdvisor which continually ranks Montana Ale Works the best place in Bozeman and I respectfully disagree.  I want to go where the locals go, the small places.  Fortunately we have some old (and new!) friends from our Portland days so I went to them for advice.  Portland has changed so much since we lived there and so have we, what we did then would be totally different.  We probably wouldn't even hang out with Matt and Angie of 2000.  But that's cool, cuz 2014 Angie and Matt are pretty fun.

Anyways...after getting some ideas from friends and a bit of research on my part we had a few places we wanted to try but lots of room for whatever.  It was a perfect balance and we crammed in so many things in our few days.  We ate and drank our way through the city.  Some nights doing an appetizer and happy hour at one place and then light dinner someplace else and ending with drinks yet another place.  I was so very full by the end of each day.  And tired from walking for miles.  But, I wouldn't change a thing about it.  

The Sights...
In this place anything goes and I find so much beauty in the randomness of it-

We walked down this road a couple of times and each time I was taken by the old church steeple set against the modern building.  Old with new.  Beautiful.

The skyline.  

We didn't spend a ton of time in the actual downtown Portland area.  Enough to stroll by both of the places we used to work and head to a rooftop bar for drinks and overlook the city.  The bar itself was a bit pretentious, but I love a good rooftop bar...looking down and across the city around you.


Palm trees!!  

Spring was in full effect in Oregon...everything green and lush after months of rain.  It felt warm and humid and after our long, cold winter this made me so very happy.  The palm tree outside our hotel room patio was icing on the cake.

Did I mention the greenery?  Oh, it was everywhere!  Roses blooming, trees with full leaves....color after only seeing grey and white for so long. 


Other Favorites...

I'm sure you think I'm talking about the beer here, which was in fact delicious.  However, it is the map on the table that made me excited.  Matt and I had a long discussion on the way there (it was 12 hours after all) about my resistance to GPS and modern technology when it comes to directions.  My thoughts-I miss good old fashion maps.  Where you spread it out and find where you're at and where you're going and it tells you everything along the way.  I know, I know, GPS can tell you this too but no one is going to no how to use a map.  I feel like it's making us stupid and no one will be able to get anywhere without an automated voice telling them which way to go.  I like to study a map of a city before we go and figure out how their streets are laid out...get my bearings of which way is north and how to get where we want to go.  Matt likes to rely on Siri to get him places.  I tried to let go of my stubbornness and let GPS lead us to our hotel.  I tried to embrace how easy it is to simply punch in your destination.  I was good with it when we were driving.  But, once in Portland and walking I got to lead the way.  It was a good compromise.  And, when we stopped at this brewery and sat down at the map table I was in my glory.  

Throughout Portland there were little signs that made me so happy.  

Things like this graffiti on the side of a mail box...

I love this.  Matt and I have love letters from our first summer apart.  Boxes full.  It was a time before email and for this I am forever thankful.  There is something so beautiful about a box full of love letters.  

And this little gem I found in the above mentioned dive bar...

Word.

And just a few more favorites...

One thing we did do back in the day was go to the Portland Saturday Market so we had to make a stop there.  It has grown, but is still awesome.  Food, crafts, art, music, drinks and a mix of tourists with weird locals all around.  And, we must give off the local vibe because we had numerous people ask us if we were from around there and if we could give them directions to Pioneer Square or Voodoo Donuts.  

And of course...the whole reason we went...

To celebrate the wedding of a dear friend.  Weddings are awesome and this one was beautifully done.  From the purple Converse the wedding party wore to amazing food...full of vegetarian options which doesn't happen often in Montana.  It was small, intimate and so very sweet.  Celebrating love is right up there on my favorite things.  

The drive back was so very long.  The excitement gone and our bodies exhausted from the miles of walking, the late nights and partaking in far too many local brews.  I wanted to click my shoes together and be home.  Back to our babies.  The best part of coming back is always returning to our girls.

The first night home, everyone tucked safely back in their own beds I sleep peacefully.  Grateful for an amazing trip with my guy.  Grateful for the laughs, the fun and the reconnection.  Grateful for happy girls that had happily spent the days with Grandma's and cousins.  Knowing they were in good hands so we could simply enjoy.  

And, so grateful to come back and see that spring finally decided to make a real appearance in Bozeman as well...

Thank you Portland...we love you.

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