I ended up taking a long Memorial Day weekend down in Portland, which, considering how relatively close it is to Seattle, I rarely visit. Bummer, that.
I like the place rather a lot, if only because when you walk through a neighborhood and look at the houses, you can tell quirky people live there. Observe.
It reminds me of Georgetown, in a way. One of these days I’ll take you all on a pictorial tour of my neighborhood. It’s pretty neat.
So, the highlights:
Train travel is rarely part of normal life on the West Coast. They’re infrequent. They don’t go where you need them to. If you’re traveling solo they can save you money, but if you’ve got another rider in your car it just doesn’t make sense to shell out the extra cash.
But, trains! They’re so marvelous! You shuffle into King Street Station with your backpack on your shoulders, navigate the ever-changing maze of construction, say “good morning” to other actual human beings while you wait on the platform, help little old ladies hoist their luggage into the train car, grab a cup of coffee from the dining car, then crash out in a comfy seat with your trashy urban fantasy novel (it’s vacation!) and watch the gorgeous Washington coast pass by.
Maybe you’ll meet someone new. Maybe you’ll overhear interesting dialogue bits to put in your Great American Novel. Maybe you’ll just take a nap.
And the kids! The best part of being on a train is sharing a car with a small child who’s completely taken by the wonder of it all. Admit it. Secretly, you also want to point and shout “Mom, look, a train!” every time one comes careening down the adjacent track, but you’re too adult. So leave it to them and smile inside.
Meeting new friends
I’m really most grateful for the chance to hang out with my old roommate’s incredibly adorable 3-and-a-half-year-old. We bonded over Star Wars, and I showed him pictures of the Jedi Quiet Book I’m working on for my niece. He was pretty excited about the finger puppets, so I posted those to him yesterday. After all, it’s going to take me months more to finish this book. What’s another week or two to make another set of finger puppets?
(Side note: I can’t wait to show you this book once it’s all done. Go to Julie’s website right now to see her version, then go to her Etsy store to buy the pattern. I promise I’ll post my own here…eventually. If I stop giving the components away to older kids.)
I also had the pleasure of spending an evening with Amanda from The Knit Cycle. (Hi, Amanda!) We happened to stumble upon an evening of trivia (spoiler alert: it’s apparently neither of our strong points). We did have a fun time making up answers to amuse ourselves and, in Amanda’s case, throwing ping pong balls at people during the “physical challenge” portion of the game. See? Sometimes good things come from internet stalking.
This place is awesome. If you have a crafty bone anywhere in your body you absolutely must check it out next time you’re in Portland. From their website:
Scrap is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our mission is to inspire creative reuse and environmentally sustainable behavior by providing educational programs and affordable materials to the community.
We visited their retail store, where we found piles of cool fabric remnants, bins of zippers, stacks of posters and written-on Christmas cards, bottle caps, half-used bottles of paint…. You name it, it’s at SCRAP.
In addition to the retail store, SCRAP also has some very cool educational programs, including hosting field trips where they teach creative reuse projects to kids. One of those was going on as we were there, and it was exciting to watch the kids getting into their projects. My three-and-a-half-year-old host seemed to enjoy himself just wandering around the store, digging through various bins of randomness and showing us all the treasures he’d found.
The attached Re:boutique features crafty items, like these shopping panniers and the fingerless eye gloves modeled above.
Go to SCRAP.
And, yes, I rode a bike.
My friend loaned me her bike while she was at work, which meant I had a chance to experience some of the fabled Portland “bikiness.” I’ve ridden around there before, but this was my first time navigating the city alone. It’s really not so hard, although I some of those hills were pretty draining. Exhibit A:
I posted whilst in PDX about the plethora of bike racks one can find there, but I really wanted to share this particular one with you. Because in Portland, they make bike racks out of bikes.
(Soylent green is…!)
Please note, my old roommate risked her life to get this photo for you, dear readers, by crouching in the street while drivers patiently waited for her to finish, then drove by with a friendly Portland wave.
Single hop IPA!
Flavored with Amarillos (high high up there in my favorite varieties), this beer was amazingly delicious. I wish HUB lived in my neighborhood.
Portland a fun sort of place. Thanks for hosting me, everyone. I’ll try to be back soon.