Before leaving for our road-trip up to the PNW I started to feel really burnt out in all areas of my life, and it was really freaking me out. I couldn’t even compose emails that required any thought. I was making the same, easy, boring food for us. Oh, and I was just tired of San Diego’s stupid sunshine. I wanted rain, adventuring, and slow coffee mornings with my boys. And I got that, almost. Sad truth: it only rained the first morning we were in Oregon. Bonkers, right?
We took the slow way up north, because we really like to ease into vacation. We spent the day before leaving packing up the vehicle and making a ton of food to take with us on the road-trip. I made my signature chicken-curry hand pies. The boys helped with cookies, honey-chai almonds, cutting up vegetables and fruit. Oh, and white bean hummus for dipping those vegetables in. This made our stop for lunch and breakfast much less cumbersome. We stopped after the sun came up for coffee and bagels. We snacked on all the stuff mentioned above when we needed it. (Because singing at the top of your lungs in the middle of California farmland works up an appetite.) We found a winery and pistachio farm to stop and have a picnic lunch at. We also made the child run laps until he was bored with it (highly recommended on long road trips with children). Here, we purchased a bag of roasted pistachios, because though I’ve enjoyed many a cup of pistachio gelato from Pitango Gelato in Baltimore, Maryland, I’d never actually had a whole pistachio. We drove as far as we could that first day, through Mt. Shasta in the dark of night, and in to Eugene, Oregon, where we found a hotel to crash at in wee morning hours. After sleeping about six hours, we woke up excited for our first day in Oregon! Showered and coffee’d, we hit the road for our first stop in Gresham, Oregon, where we would stay the first days of our trip with dear friends, Deann and her mister, Kevin.
(Quick nugget about how we know these two: Deann was our wedding photographer. We met her while walking around our neighborhood one evening by the ocean a few days after Josh put a ring on my finger. We were walking along and actually stumbled across her shooting another couple. I can’t explain it, but as I watched her work and looked at her personal style, I just wanted to meet her! I pushed Josh over to ask her for a card. We awkwardly exchanged hellos and we took her card home immediately. The moment we got home, we hopped on the computer and started to squeal about how we loved her portfolio. Shortly thereafter, we had coffee and hired her! Five years later, we’re fine friends. No really, Deann and I are like twins. So much of the same taste and interests and exuberant behavior twisted in our introverted ways. She also has a great connection with Josh. By which I mean, they totally share the same silly and witty sense of humor. We just love, love, love each other. So after our wedding, we decided she’d be our lifer-photog, and really this was just a ploy to keep her in our lives for – well – EVER. This was our first time meeting her mister and we LOVED him. Such a gentleman and such a natural host. Absolutely one of the kindest souls I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. He’s so perfect for her and they have stars in their eyes. Love breeds love, I say. I’m SO happy he’s the yin to my favorite friend’s yang.)
We arrived at their property just in time for coffee, and they poured us really good cups. If you’re ever in PDX check out Courier Coffee Roasters. Quality roasted and crafted coffee. We sat in their warm home until adventure started to tickle us. By the time we got coffee, settled in, toured their gorgeous property, and met all their cats, dog, and chickens, we were ready to head into Portland to grab eats and beer. Because, beer lunches are the ONLY way to kick off exploring a new city. They took us to Breakside Brewery. I’m happy they did, too! I indulged in a bowl of waffle fries smothered in Rogue Smokey blue cheese dressing and blue crumbles. They created some kind of gravy with the cheese and it was decadent. There might have been a bit of bacon crumbles, too. Okay, A LOT of bacon crumbles. A metric f’ton of bacon crumbles. Let’s just say I was really pleased that I ordered a pretty green salad to go with it. Salad at a brewery? Oh yes, always check out the salads at breweries. I’ve found that a great brewery will offer a great salad option. We tried a lot of beers at Breakside. Tasters littered our table by the middle of that afternoon. The one that really sticks out to me as just being aces: Sour Newton. It was the first of many sour beers I tried up there. I left the PNW seriously crushing on sour beers for the first time in my life.
Before we move on, look at this goodness. Even with help, I don’t think we even made it third through this mess of awesome.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking off our beer lunch in the Pearl District, exploring toddler-style up and down the greenway downtown, and ended up heading back to our hosts’ warm home for some more beer and even more cheese. After putting down our sweet and very tired little dude, the adults stayed up way too late having way too good conversation. But also, check out this cheese plate our hosts put in front of us. Cheese for days! All the craft cheese we could find to go with all the craft beer our tummies could house. No better way to spend time with friends.
We spent the next morning laying on the floor with our very content little dude playing with a giant train our host acquired for our visit, drinking more coffee and thinking about what we wanted to do with our day. We settled on a slow start, got showers and made our way into Portland for a bbq lunch at Podnah’s (amazing modern southern bbq!) before seeing as much of Portland as we could see before the sun went down. We hopped out of the car to explore neighborhoods lined with trees shedding vibrant leaves all over the sidewalks. It was like a dream. Later in the afternoon, we stopped in for coffee at Blue Kangaroo (note: REALLY good Espresso Cubano), and then we let the child shuffle his feet along the fallen leaves on the sidewalks in the darling neighborhood of Sellwood.
Guys, the neighborhoods in Portland are precious. The people of Portland are sincerely interested in conversing with you – about ANYTHING. The weather in Portland while we visited was so perfect for just walking around and talking and drinking coffee and letting our sweet little dude kick leaves and find chickens in random front yards. We loved adventuring Portland.
We ended our day at McMenamins Edgefield, just outside Portland in Troutdale. What a place! This gathering spot, around since 1983, has everything. The property handcrafts their own beer, wine, spirits and coffee. There are pubs, a venue for outdoor music concerts, a historic hotel and spa, as well as a movie theater. All on this sprawling landscape of gorgeous Oregon. Absolutely recommend this if you’re ever in the area. It’s just beautiful. We enjoyed a nice meal with some cocktails. I had a “Bourbon Furnace” which warmed me up nicely before heading home with our hosts for some good old fashioned downtime before we left next morning for the next part of our adventure (in eating and drinking and doing).
On the PS: Our lady hostess happens to also be a wildly talented photographer, and she snapped a few impromptu shots of us in her dream of a backyard. Seriously, people. She lives THERE. We feel like we owe them for such a lovely stay, and then she went and surprised us with these! Swoony, right?