Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day 10-Portland

Regularly we have been waking up around 7:30 give or take; and for anyone that knows me, that's early! I don't even set an alarm, must just be the noises of the outdoors and excitement of the day that always gets me going early. Opening my eyes and being able to see the bright blue sky and pine tree, really highlights why sleeping without a rainfly is so nice. Up until now, the weather has been quite chilly; most days only got up to 65-67 degrees and some nights were as low as 39! The rainfly had been kept on for me until now. Days typically reach high 80's and nights only get down to about 50's which make it great sleeping weather. We decided to experiment this morning with breakfast. Last road trip I brought my nice set of camp pots and pans and didn't touch them once; this time I omitted them with the flight and all, and wished I hadn't. Boiling anything but water in a Jetboil is rather hard and we were at a loss of how we would cook eggs. Anna brought a pocket rocket with her which didn't help our dilemma either. At the grocery store we bought a round cake pan, and spatula. Figuring we could just put the pan on top of the burner and it would work just the same. First we put the pan in top of Anna's burner and she put some butter on a bagel to toast up; it charred itself that's for sure. Leaving a circular residue of char on the pan made us realize eggs would be a bad idea. I got to thinking and had a better idea. If I used my Jetboil with water, and put the pan on top of the pot of water, the boiling water would even out the heat of the pan. I cracked the first egg and it spread all over the place, slowly but surely the translucent turned to opaque and the egg was beginning to cook. I cracked the other in, and realized the process was a slow one and to ensure the eggs were cooked evenly; we should probably scramble them together. Doing so made a great breakfast of a bagel with avocado, cheese, and egg! We cleaned things up, and got ready to go into the city. It would take us about 45 minutes or so to reach the city, and then we had to figure out where to go. Jillian a few days ago had asked her co-workers who had gone into the city for recommendations and she provided me with a few options. We decided to check out Chinatown, whatever that meant. It was around 10:15-10:30 and we weren't hungry to really eat yet, what else is there to do? We found a gas station which allowed parking until 6:00pm for only $9 what a deal! We gathered all of our valuables and headed to Chinatown. Walking around, it seemed deserted and full of poverty, are we missing something? We decided to check out Lan Su Chinese Gardens which was a great experience. At first we were a little overwhelmed with should we jump into the Tai Chi demonstrations, go to the tea house, take a self tour, or wait for the guided tour at 11:00. We made our way to the tea house and sat down inside; though the windows were large doors opening to the outside which was very pretty. We looked over the menu and I decided on an Oolong tea and to share some vegetable buns. As I waited for my tea, I walked around photographing all of the different teapots and steeping methods as well as tea varieties. Makes me miss my small yellow cast iron teapot in storage! Our teas came and each with a different method; mine the top served as a stirring mechanism as well as the filter. You would crack it ever so slightly to sip out the tea. It was the first time I had ever used such a cup and I was estactic in the formality. The buns came and they were good as well; they are a cross between a bread and a dumpling and had some kind of greens inside, alongside was a pickled cucumber salad. We sat and listened to a live performance of an instrument I am not familiar with, before heading back out to the gardens. Since it was after 11:00; we decided to self tour the grounds. The plants were beautiful, but what really caught my eye was the attention to detail with the architecture. In one room was a cylinder full of what looked like popsicle sticks, the idea was to shake the container ever so slightly at an angle until one stick protruded beyond the others. Anna went first and it was awhile before her fortune was revealed to her, slot number 35. I went next and within a couple seconds 36 stuck out, I pulled the drawer and read my fortune below sticking it in my pocket as I finished. Walking around for a little while longer; we decided to walk a couple blocks over to Voodoo Doughnut. Luckily we hit it at the right time because no one was in line; we did however get a little confused by the process and in that time a few people jumped ahead of us. The doughnuts were all shapes and sizes, simple, and complex. Voodoo Doughnuts  were known a for their odd combinations and over abundance. One doughnut had about three inches of candy piled on top, another had Fruit Loop cereal, one was about 10 inches in diameter and the King; the maple frosted bacon doughnut. I don't have a sweet tooth in my mouth, but I knew I wanted to try the maple bacon one. We each got a normal sized doughnut each and decided to share the bacon one. I got a blueberry cake doughnut and Anna got a chocolate coconut one. We took them outside to enjoy and as soon as we began to sit, we  noticed employees spray painting a dead tree green. Deciding not to inhale fumes with my doughnut, we moved further down the alley of tables. My doughnut was awesome, so fresh and amazing; we decided to save the bacon one. Walking back to the car to leave the box containing the doughnut, we decided our next stop; the visitors center in Courthouse Square. We sat on the stairs for awhile while some sort of job fair, or white tent convention filled the center. Walking into the visitor center was quite overwhelming, luckily a young guy asked if we needed any help. We proceeded to express our interests and questions and he gave us a few pamphlets telling us to follow him over to his desk and he would write down some more local spots. In the midst, a man got ahold of him and we waited by the sidelines; eventually he had not forgotten about us and when he was finished he waved us over. He told us of cool neighborhoods to visit on the East side for Anna, a brewery or two, and this cool event where these birds live inside a school chimney; thousands of them, and daily they fly out of the chimney and then around sunset they return. Flying around like a school of fish putting on a show for about a half hour before all funneling back into the chimney for the night. It was around lunchtime now; and what better place than the food carts to get food from? We walked over to where about 30-40 carts were parked and browsed each one before making a decision. I settled on Bing Mi; a cart that specialized in savory type crepes as a burrito outside wrapper and black bean paste, sautéed onions, scallions, cilantro, garlic chili sauce, and hoisin sauce inside as filling. It smelled amazing, we took our lunches to a nearby park to sit on the brick wall and enjoy. Mine was burning my hand as I walked with it, we sat among others and listened to a guy play the guitar. It was the most beautiful day out and my lunch was great. There were a couple homeless people within the park and one was going through the garbage, Anna didn't eat most of her lunch so she decided to give the rice bowl to him, I too had a few bites of my wrap left so I decided to put it in her box as well. We left the park and she handed him the box, he told her to have a great life. As we walked away I turned back to see him yelling and waving my egg wrap unfolded like a dish towel flailing through the air, I'm guessing he was not happy with it; picky little homeless man if you ask me! We had some time to kill so why not see the Rose Gardens within the city known for roses? It would be about a 30-40 minute walk; but we had the time to kill. We walked out of the high rises and to the outskirts; all uphill. Walking in my Crocs I thought; maybe we should have driven. I was sweating beneath my backpack, and had just showered; this was not the Appalachian Trail. Eventually we turned off the uphill cement sidewalk to a park and it was far more beautiful and yet it was still uphill. We were out of the sun which was nice but we were now climbing paved switchbacks and sets of stairs. My thighs were still burning from the hike the other day and the stairs were like torture. After the stairs in the park, we were back on winding paved park roads until we finally saw the sign for the gardens. We sat on a shaded bench to cool down and catch our breath. The views of the roses, even at this time of year; was beautiful. I walked around photographing each one and smelling them. After walking around for a good half hour, maybe an hour; I decided to text Anna to see where she was and if she was finished with her viewings as well. We met back up and mutually decided we did not want to make the walk back. There must be another option; cab, Uber, bus? Walking into the gift shop we decided to ask the sales clerk, she advised we take the free shuttle up to the zoo and then jump on the Buses. We waited for the bus which should be arriving in 15 minutes and then climbed aboard. I was exhausted; I slumped in my chair and wished I could just fall asleep in it. We rode each stop, before we were back right at the gift store; guess we could have waited for that stop instead of doing the full loop again. Last stop was the zoo and we hopped off thanking the bus driver. A little disorientated; we walked over to the kiosk and tried to figure out which line we wanted. We bought two tickets for the busses and walked over to the drivers to see if they could help with which one to get on. There were three men and each one said a different thing, luckily one looked at my Google maps and where we were trying to go; and said we just take the elevators down and take the Tri Met. We thanked them and went underground, just in time for the tram. We hopped on, no one asking for our tickets; guess we didn't even have to buy tickets to get on? Maybe they will ask for them at the end? We made a stop above ground as people flooded in and out; guess no one is checking tickets. There were a couple stops before ours; but it was well worth the wait against walking. Plus, we got the full on city experience that way. We walked off just a minute or so from the restaurant we were headed to for happy hour. The guy at the visitor center had recommended it. It was a rather fancy restaurant, but it sure had great happy hour specials. I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio for $6 and Anna got a house punch. We both got the steak tips for under $5, and then decided to order a Caesar salad; granted they are smaller portions but it was perfect for us. The food and wine were spectacular. We decided we were both too tired to wait for the birds at dust so we headed back to where our car was parked. On the way, I spotted on outfitter; I wanted to get a small folding camp chair so we stopped in. First going upstairs to not find any gear only clothing; an employee asked if we needed help. I explained what I was looking for and he asked if we checked the campgear in the basements; we didn't even know there was a basement! Down there I didn't spot what I was looking for so another guy asked if he could help; when I asked about a camp chair, he said they had them around here somewhere. He asked another guy who had been seen sitting on one earlier in the week and he came out of the back room with the chair. I joked with him about getting a discount on the pre-used chair. We went back and fourth about how it should be more expensive since he had sat on it, and I advised it should be discounted. Joking aside, he said there were others hanging up right there if I didn't want that one; I let him keep his black chair, and grabbed a blue one. We got to talking with the same two guys, and a third; who was petting a pitbull sitting on the stairs. We all talked about our trip, and his dog, before parting ways to pay for the chair. Getting back to the car about 20 minutes before 6:00 we drove out of the city and back to our campsite. There I sat uploading photos from my camera, writing some of the blog, and editing a photo from a newborn photoshoot I had done prior to starting the roadtrip. It was a much needed chill evening before climbing into the tent for bed.

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