Trip Start Apr 21, 2009
11Trip End Apr 26, 2009
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Where I stayed
Emma attains her desire for a "nice cool plane" to Portland. I put on a jacket and it's still almost uncomfortable (which is likely how my mind wandered to how cold it would be outside the plane, and hence my last entry). The Arctic climate on the flight makes for a dramatic arrival in Portland, where the heat rushes at us as we step down the ramp (or should I use the awkward industry phrase "deplaning"?). It's 86F in Portland.
An effortless half hour later, during which I convert the temperature for Emma and bore her with an imperial versus metric diatribe, we're hopping off (detraining?) the light rail system and walking through the clean streets to the Ace Hotel. The big bike rack out front is full; cultured 20 somethings with laptops populate the lobby.
The Ace Hotel is an old office building renovated into an art hotel of natural surfaces and heady aromas. I've done enough business travel that it's a pleasant feeling tossing bags into a space that feels more like a friend's funky bedroom than a film set. The fire exit chart above our door is made from fabric, the little paths to the exits sewn in red thread. The wool blankets on the beds have stag heads (our room has an elk theme).
The hallways possess something of a Barton Fink atmosphere, but of a kinder, flame-free variety. The aromas come from the Stump Town coffee shop right off the lobby. We pass this as we head out the door to the first of what will be many visits to Powell's bookstore.
If you carefully bulldozed all the used and new bookstores in Vacouver and Victoria together, hired a contractor to connect them all, then got someone to come up with their own colour-coded, Dewi decimal system, you might have something approaching the size and scope of Powells. It takes up a whole block of Portland's downtown. Emma and I cut diagonally through it on our way to find food, and get enough of a gander to realize we should have brought a bigger suitcase for the flight home.
Finding food in Portland at 4pm proves slightly more difficult than expected since most restaurants close during the late afternoon. Happily, the microbreweries, which don't so much dot as coat the downtown streets in their multiplicity, all have happy hours. We plunk ourselves down in the vast space of Deschutes Brewery and soon I'm sucking on an amazing nitro stout made on the premises. The malts have been roasted such a dark black that the liquor has an awesome smoked taste that goes perfectly with the elk burger I order. Despite lots of tasty looking stuff on the menu, I feel this is the correct choice. I recognize synchroncity when I see it, and what with the hotel room decor, I announce to Emma that this must be some kind of stag night.
Emma is a good travel companion for me. She puts up with this kind of corny play on words, even occasionally laughing graciously at my attempts at witicisim ("The elk burger is medium-rare... I mean, I've never had one before!"). There's a certain rhythm people can attain in a conversation, especially when everyone can talk and is happy to be interrupted by more ideas and non-sequitors. She's enough of my daughter to carry this off with aplomb, and before we know it we've chatted our way into the dinner hour. We leave as the rush arrives.