Sunday, September 2, 2012

Portland or Bust!

Multonomah Falls, Portland, OR
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to travel out west to Portland, Oregon.  I was out there once as a kid to visit my mom's brother and family, but I have been long overdue for a visit.  Just last year, my friends Steph and Chris moved to Portland from LA and this beautiful Pacific Northwest location was the perfect backdrop for our annual Miami friends college reunion.

Coming off an exhausting two week trip from Italy and coming home to loads of bad news- our dog Kona passed away and then three days later found out our other dog, Bailey, had emergency surgery to removed a burst spleen, which we found out was cancer. On top of all of that, a new school year was rapidly approaching in a week, and I felt like my classroom still needed a complete makeover. Although this trip was planned for months, I was guilt-ridden as to whether or not I should leave my family during such a tumultuous time.  After some emotional days and nights, Sam convinced me that it was ok to leave, visit friends and family, and take time to have some much-needed fun with my best friends.

I departed for Portland on a Tuesday and spent two days with my Uncle Dave- my mom's brother- Aunt Kathy and my cousin Katie. We had a great time!  We ventured out on a road trip through the beautiful wooded area of Portland, visiting Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge, and crossing the river into Washington for a lovely lunch by the river.

The Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls
On the second day, we ate the awesome McMenamin's Kennedy School!  If you are in Portland, go here.  It is the coolest place- an old turn-of-the-century school- remodeled to serve as an entertainment venue- a hotel which includes a great restaurant with an outdoor courtyard, a movie theater, several bars, and more.  It is a very unique place with hallways sporadically decorated with local artwork.

Hallways of the Kennedy School 
We then met a group downtown for the Portland Underground tour, which was very interesting since I really knew nothing about the history, old buildings, and the underground tunnels beneath this progressive city!
Uncle Dave and Aunt Kathy on the Portland Underground Tour! 

After our downtown tour, I met my girlfriends just in time for another epic Miami Reunion! A group of about 8 ladies (and don't forget our Miami men!), some of my closest friends are from my college days.  We are quite a crew!  Sometimes I wonder what forces of nature brought us all together in that "hidden corridor" of Symmes Hall of Miami University.  We all are very different individuals, but compliment each other so well.  We are like pieces of a puzzle that fit together so perfectly.  Sometimes I think they know me better than I know me.  Now, 15 years after we met as strangers, most of us have stayed very close and connected despite the fact that we live all over the country.  There are friends of this group who reside in Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, LA, San Francisco, and Oregon. When we get together- hopefully once per year- it is just like old times.  It feels like home.
All of my girls at the Box Social, Portland, OR (and Chris too!) 
As we gathered at Chris and Steph's new house, we geared up for a weekend full of fun outdoor adventures- just my style!  The first day we were there we hit Cascade Brewing Company where I tried my very first sour beer.  Awesome.  I was amazed that there was actually a type of beer I had not tried.  Sour, fruity, and good.
Sour Beer! 
We also took an easy hike through a park where we had a distant view of the local volcanoes from the top- Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helen's were all visible from the top of the trail!  Here are some pics from our hike...

Eli looking HOT. 
Karen, Betsy, Steph, Abby, and Eli
Karen, Laurie, and Betsy
Steph and Eli
What a view! 

We even enjoy the ride over...
Later that night we had a great time on the Brew Cycle!  These are popping up in many cities, but this was my first experience and it was quite a good time!  It is basically a giant cycle, steered by a sober employee, while we pedal to three local microbreweries.  Steph had even prepared a songlist featuring the songs from our old-school college days!  We were able to connect our ipod to their speaker system and jam out as we pedaled down the streets of Portland.  So much fun! Two of the microbreweries we stopped at included Lucky Labrador and Bridgeport Brewing.
Our limo for the night!
Steph and Bets
Laurie on The Brew Cycle
Karen, Steph, and I at Lucky Labrador 
A Portland shout out to Iowa... 
Abby and Betsy at Bridgeport Brewing
Up to no good... 
We even had some hula hooping fun on the streets of Portland! 

The following day we walked to Pine State Biscuits for breakfast.  Unique and awesome.  Get there early. I had this delicious andouille sausage corn dog with spicy mustard.  Hell yeah!  That is what I call a breakfast!
Andouille heaven...
Then we headed to the Sandy River with tubes in tow to float down the river! Our cooler even had its own tube.  Priorities, y'all.
Seven hot bitches... 
Some other great places we dined were The Jade Teahouse, Pok Pok Noi, as well as The Box Social for a cocktail, and Salt and Straw featured huge portions of unique ice cream flavors.  All were very good!
Delicious meal at The Jade Teahouse
Abby and I at the Box Social 
Overall, it was a wonderfully fun weekend with great family and friends, and I was so glad I went. I miss my girlfriends so much.  

Then it was back to reality... 

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