Some things I’ve done in the last two weeks:
Painted The Hall Of Doors orange and knit a rug for our downstairs bathroom.
Walked around a waterfall I hadn’t found before.
We followed the waterfall hike by eating at Full Sail. I really like their food. It’s hard to have us go there when Double Mountain is so close, but we were in the mood for burgers so we went to Full Sail. After dinner we did their beer tour which impressed me. I like them even more after that. Miller has tried to buy them numerous times and they keep saying no, they just want to make beer. The people who work for them seem really happy too.
Drank some beer at some of my favorite Portland places.
Stayed out on a pier over the mouth of the Columbia River.
We had Brian’s dad watch Goonies the night before we went to Astoria. We had a little extra time before we checked into our hotel, so we drove to the Goonies house so he could see it.
I cannot recommend Cannery Pier Hotel enough. What a great place! The hotel was comfortable and well-appointed, the people were fantastic and the smoked salmon at the wine tasting was the best I’ve had this year. It was great! The hotel room is right out on the water, and they give you a list of all the ships going to Portland and overseas so you can use your room binoculars to check them out. And they have an antique car that will take you anywhere you want to go in Astoria. We took it to Rogue for dinner and drinks. Really fantastic.
While we were in Astoria, we checked out the Maritime museum. I liked that too – it was larger than I thought it was (I burnt out about halfway) and we got to wander on a lightship before they had to shut it down for the day due to a strangely high tide (9 feet!).
Drank wine at Torii Mor and picked up our wine from our wine club.
Did a whirlwind tour of Seattle when we dropped Brian’s dad off.
We showed him the waterfront (which he liked).
We showed him Pike Market (which he didn’t really like. Too many people and hills).
We showed him the top of the Space Needle (which he liked).
We had a quick happy hour at Ivar’s on the waterfront (we all loved that). We had some seafood and Brian and I had Manny’s beer which you can only get in Seattle and which we really enjoy. It rained all the way from Portland and all the way back, but it was clear, sunny and warm the entire time we wandered the city, just perfect.
Last Sunday, we sort of randomly decided to go to Astoria in the afternoon. We didn’t have any particular plans except to wander and maybe get some dinner at Fort George Brewery.
It was a fun afternoon. We were driving around looking at old (some of them pretty sadly boarded up) buildings. We pulled into a parking lot to get a closer look at the Flavel House (mansion?), and when I went to pull out, I noticed where we were. We were in the parking lot of the jail from the opening scenes of Goonies! I love Goonies so much, so we stopped for a bit longer so that I could get pictures.
We also drove over the Bridge to Nowhere (aka the Astoria Bridge) and paused on the Washington side to take pictures of a storm blowing inland. We drove up to Long Beach and turned around.
Fort George was pretty good! We had a taster tray, which gives you a taste of every beer they have on tap. It also includes a wasabi ginger ale, which really just tasted like water (and for $4 a glass, can probably just be avoided).
A good way to spend a Sunday and a nice reminder that we need to spend a night in Astoria soon.
Heh, sorry about the lack of updates, I got it in my head that I couldn’t write anything until I wrote about the rest of the trip to San Francisco. So here goes, I’ve thought of other things I wanted to post, so I’m going to push through this. This may be text and image heavy, but then I promise to write more often.
Sunday morning, we woke up and stood in line at Sears’ Fine Food across the street from the Sir Francis Drake. We stood in line on the sidewalk with everyone else, waiting to get in for our Easter morning pancakes. The waitress made a drink for me that was just club soda and lime, and honestly, it’s drink I think I am going to make frequently now for both breakfast and lunch. Since we moved to Portland, I don’t really drink soda, but I am still a huge fan of the bubbles, so it seems like a perfect drink to me. The restaurant had been there for a good long time, and at one point had a host who was 109!
We walked around Union Square – it was a gorgeous day so there were tons of people out. We skirted bits of the Tenderloin, and happened upon a church that had all its doors and window open. People were singing and clapping so joyfully and loudly, we were drawn to them from over a block away. Neat listening to that in the bright morning sunlight – I think it was a methodist church.
After that, we decided to retrieve our car and go for a wander in other neighborhoods. We didn’t have anything particularly in mind, so we really just did our typical, oh neat, let’s turn here.
As we were wandering through the Marina neighborhood, I saw a round dome sort of thing a few blocks over. I navigated Brian back to the area and we parked right in front of the Palace of Fine Arts. ?! I had no idea this existed! In the all the years I’ve been going to San Francisco, I never saw it or even saw a picture of it. Built in 1915, it’s under renovation right now to make it a bit more structurally sound against earthquakes, so the park out front was as close as we could get. The park was full of people having picnics for Easter, and the sky was blue and beautiful. I think it got up to 68 or so that day, so really idyllic.
After getting our fill of wandering around it, we walked down to the beach at the marina and stuck our toes in the sand and admired the bay, the beautiful weather and the Golden Gate bridge. Both Brian and I had gone over the bridge in previous trips and didn’t want to pay the toll, so we were going to skip that. Except we got stuck in traffic in just a perfect way to force us over it. Alright, then we’ll pull over and take a few pictures. $6 to get back into SF though, eesh. It was $3 the last time I was there. Fernando brought up over dinner that the toll had originally been intended to just cover the cost of building the bridge, which was paid off years ago. But it’s such a good money maker, the toll has stuck.
We had a bit more time to spend that afternoon before we needed to head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner, so we decided to check out the Hyde Street Bistro on the recommendation of one of Brian’s clients. Except it was closed in preparation for an Easter dinner, so we walked up and down Hyde and ended up going to Nook. I’m glad we did – it was perfect for what we wanted. Brian got a cappacino and I got a glass of Chardonnay. We split artichoke bottoms stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto with a dallop of pesto, a dish I am still craving a few weeks later. Yum. We sat out on the sidewalk and
watched traffic go by. I was as content as I can remember recently.
Headed back to the hotel, and found a parking spot right! out! side! of the hotel, which would save us $30 parking overnight, cool! After thinking about it, we decided to walk to Fernanco and Alicia’s – it was just under a mile, and that way we could walk up Grant Street through Chinatown. Which reminds me, Alicia told me about a great walking tour through Chinatown given by a woman who was born and raised in Chinatown, and I need to get the name from Alicia because I’d love to do that.
We walked right by a restaurant I’ve been wanting to eat at for about 15 years, the Stinking Rose (a garlic restaurant? how could I not love that?). We’ll eat there for sure next time we are back.
Their apartment is in North Beach, or it was until this weekend when they moved to a new neighborhood. We walked up the stairs to Coit tower and then walked to dinner at Pesces. It’s a small tapas restaurant in Russian Hill. The drinks were really bad, but once we switched over to wine, it was great. It was fun trying a lot of little things, and the four of us had a great dinner talking about Portland and San Francisco.
It was a work day the next day for both of them, so after a leisurely 2 hour dinner, they caught a cab home and we walked. It was early enough that we didn’t want to call it a night, so we kept our eyes open for some place to get a drink. We ended up at Brick, and had cocktails and scallops, and I wish we had made it back there again (next time). The bartendar was quite charismatic, and it was a great place to hang out at the bar and plot to take over the world.
Alright, almost done, I promise :) We packed a lot into two days in San Francisco, we like to do and see as much as we can when we travel.
I’m actually leaving out all sorts of stuff in interest of actually finishing this post with even one person reading it.
The next day we got up at 7 a.m. to feed the meter so that we wouldn’t get a ticket in our perfect parking spot, and walked across to Sear’s to eat breakfast. We went to the car to get in and discovered that we earned a $50 ticket during breakfast due to street cleaning. ARGH.
We drove to Berkley and wandered around there for a while. We ate lunch on the Berkley campus and then got a latte at Caffe Mediteranium, which is Brian’s favorite coffeeshop anywhere. This is the second time we’ve driven to Berkley just to go to the Med. The Med is known for having invented caffe lattes. No, really!
We drove up to Berkley Heights, which is beautiful and has great views. Brian loves to keep going up and up and up to see what he can see here. We parked the car and went for a long walk through the neighborhoods looking at houses and artwork and views.
When we started driving again, we went up some more, and found a park we didn’t even know existed in Berkley Heights – Tilden Park is over 2000 acres. We were greeted by a wild turkey walking along the side of the road when we drove in. As we were driving through, we saw a golf course, a stable, mini steam trains (we thought about riding them but didn’t), chatted with a woman on a horse ride, and saw some magnificent views. Lots of hardcore bikers in this park – I can’t imagine tackling those hills. I’d like to go back and hike there, maybe this fall.
After wandering the park, we decided to head back to the hotel to get changed for Leonard Cohen and go to Oakland early to avoid rush hour traffic. We figured we’d grab a bite to eat and relax before the show.
There’s not much around the Paramount Theater in Oakland. Oakland as a whole seems much more bombed out than the last time I was there, and I wasn’t so much in the mood to go too far given that. We found Cafe Madrid close by, which served Spanish food and drinks, so we had a few glasses of rioja and a cheese plate and called it good.
We were starting to see people who looked like they were going to the show, so we went to see if we could get in – turns out they let fans in two hours early, and I am a member of the fan club (and bought the tickets during the pre-sale). The Paramount theater is a beautifully restored art deco theater, really beautiful and maintained. It was strange in the middle of Oakland (if anyone ever wants to tell me about good things to do in Oakland, I’d love to hear it. We were a
bit baffled about how bombed out it is – Brian spent a good week there a few years ago and liked it and was surprised at how much it had changed too).
There was a bar downstairs in the area between the mens’ and ladies’ room, so we decided to do that before going to look at the t-shirts. While Brian was in the men’s room, an a cappella choir of men started singing Cohen covers in the men’s bathroom – something that has never happened to Brian before. He had the bathroom to himself otherwise, so he said it was a slightly surreal experience.
Turns out they were the Conspiracy of Beards, and they were there to sing in the lobby for a half hour for fans of Leonard Cohen. They cleared out as soon as everyone else was admitted. Brian and I stood in the lobby, had a glass of wine and listened to them sing. What a cool thing to stumble upon – I’m glad we were early even if we didn’t find much in Oakland to entertain us!
I’m so, so in awe of Leonard Cohen. There are very few Greats I’ve regretted not being able to see, but Leonard Cohen was one of them, and it was soooooo worth it. I love him even more than I did before.
It’s neat because my mom was really into Leonard Cohen when he was young, and she was living in San Francisco, so I grew up seeing his books of poetry and records, but I had never listened to him, and eventually forgot about him. When we were in Madison, Brian took me to see Rufus Wainwright at the Barrymore, who raved about Leonard Cohen, and did a cover of Cohen’s Hallelujah that actually choked me up. So the next time I was at a shop, I picked up an album by Leonard Cohen. Brian and I listened to it while we renovated the upstairs apartment, and I can’t even tell you how many times we listened to that album over the week. It’s said that Leonard Cohen is a perfectionist with his writing, spending years on just one line before he’s satisfied, and it shows.
So seeing Leonard Cohen in San Francisco specifically meant a lot to me – I was able to imagine how my mom felt, seeing him, and feel that connection, on top of a completely brilliant performance by LC. He definitely speaks to me. We tried to buy tickets in Seattle as we drove away from the show that night, but the only tickets still available anywhere are at Chicago, the second night, for $250, which I just can’t justify right now(more the airfare than the tickets).
We got a late start out of the city the next day. We had decided to drive Hwy 101 back, and started out on Hwy 1. An hour later, we were still only about 15 miles from San Francisco – it’s a beautiful drive this way, through eucalyptus groves which smelled heavenly, but waaaay more time than we had.
We cut back over to the I-5 route, and while we were doing that, we saw this van, which I love:
We hit some hard snow in the mountain passes, but luckily, we got through it without having to pull over. Just slowed us down. We also saw a bizarre accident that looked like a small aircraft crashed on into the side of the road, with fire trucks and police surrounding it, but I never saw anything on the news about it. Very odd.
We finally pulled into Portland around 1:30 in the morning – Brian was up for work at 7:30 as usual. Rough, but a really great weekend.
So. I promise to update this again rather than guiltily avoiding it!
I’ve been feeling really cooped up lately. In an effort to save money, I’ve been trying to focus on things at home. Which is fine in moderation, but I’m the sort of person who needs to get out and do new things and explore and hang out, so after a while, it turns into a pent-up restless cabin-fever.
So yesterday, in an effort to alleviate that, we decided to drive to Mt St Helens. It was interesting because I didn’t really care if we made it all the way there, and it was raining, and would likely be dark by the time we got to anywhere. Which is fine – it’s more that I needed to see new things. We took Highway 30 most of the way to avoid I-5.
The colors were beautiful. A number of times, I almost pulled of the road just to admire a particularly brilliant tree. We drove through small towns and talked about the good signs (vintage) and the bad (wow, one town was honestly nothing by chain stores as much as we could tell).
As we started the loop around the mountains, the rain turned into some pretty strong fog, and the temperature started dropping. I knew it was supposed to snow, and I don’t have chains for my car yet, so I kept a pretty close eye on the temperature.
Some of this drive is pretty disconcerting – when you are several thousand feet up, and as you approach a bridge, you realize how slender its supports look, and that this area is extremely prone to earthquakes. There’s rocks that crash down the side of the mountains into the roads, and you see them on the side of the road, smashed to bits. You can see the stress fractures in the roads from earthquakes and winter weather, and it makes you think about the brave people who put the roads there in the first place. This particular drive has the added oddness that all the trees are the exact same age which is very, very disconcerting to the eye. You feel like you are looking at lego trees, or that you are actually having that strange dream, you know, that one. The fog really didn’t help with that feeling.
At around 4000 feet, we realized it was definitely going to freeze in the next hour or so, and the clouds and fog were going to prevent us from seeing much more than we were seeing, and it was going to be dark in 20 minutes. So we took a few pictures, and basked in the complete silence of that lonely mountain road (we only saw one other car on it when we were heading up) and headed back. We saw the base of Mt St Helen’s, and its snowline, but that’s as close as we got.
A complete success as far as I’m concerned. We are going to go back on a clearer day to take better pictures, and go the visitors’ center for Mt St Helens, but what a great day to go for a wander. I’m feeling much better today.