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We arrived to Portland at a great time. The temperature was 27 degrees, the humungous Saturday market was bursting at the seams, and every bar and streetcorner was pulsing with the beats of Musicfest NW.

Our first day in the city was something of an adventure. After a week on the road, our car was taking on a funky foody-sweaty-humid smell – which we figured was likely due to the piles of dirty camping clothes accumulating in the back seat (Tyler later admitted he forgot an open bag of onion chips back there somewhere too). So we we pulled into the parking lot of a nondescript laundromat, immediately finding ourselves at the receiving end of a hands-on-hips-glare from the proprietor of the next-door-neighbor drycleaning business. He clearly didn’t appreciate laundromat peasants parking in front of his storefront. Fine. Tyler backed out of the spot to seek out a less controversial space elsewhere in the lot. Obviously seeing over or through the mountains of dirty clothes in the back seat wasn’t a successful endeavor as we promptly felt – and heard- a loud crunch come from the passenger side bumper. Uh oh. Luckily the bumper of the truck we “nudged” was solid steel and didn’t have a scratch on it. Our Mazda 3 (Lafawnda), is made of plastic and had a nice baseball sized inverted bubble in the bumper. Tyler easily popped it out, adjusted one of the reflectors, brushed off a bit of dust, and we went on our merry way. Phewf!

Driving in Portland continued this way. Second example:

That same night, we made our way to Doug Fir – A 70’s cabin-in-the-woods style diner promising some great after-dinner talent on the basement stage. Jamaine, (our GPS) says “turn right on East Burnside street” in his commanding Australian accent. We make a confident right down a main thoroughfare realizing fairly quickly that we faced several lanes of  vehicles pointed in our direction – and after screeching to a halt like a deer in headlights (make that, tourist in headlights), car horns blared, as if we didn’t realize we were clearly going the WRONG WAY. Given we had nowhere else to go, we waited for a break in traffic to make a U-Turn, smiling and waving at the oncoming vehicles impatiently swerving around us. Alberta plates people!

Minor vehicular mishaps aside, the highlights from Portland:

  • Music: This guy, Kishi Bashi, was AMAZING. Hard to believe one guy with one instrument and a few loop/effects pedals could make this kind of noise. I liked this song.
  • Portland Saturday Market
  • International Rose Test Garden (over 550 varieties of roses – all in bloom!)
  • Food: Two solid blocks of food trucks to choose from and about a million restaurants. So many options, so little time. Don’t know if we got to sample the best of Portland’s culinary delights, however it’s obvious food is serious business here.
  • Bicycles: Bike lanes, bike racks, and cyclists galore. This is the MOST bike friendly city I’ve ever seen.
  • Movie at the Living Room Theatre: We NEED one of these in Calgary. It’s a downtown movie theater showing second run indie films. The best part: they have lazy boys to sit in! The second best part: they’ll deliver pretty much any beverage and food to you as you recline in it to commence watching your movie. Hot chocolate with whipped cream and fresh shaved chocolate sprinkled on top? Wine? Handmade chocolate truffles? Keylime pie? Yes please.

That’s it for Portland and civilization for a little while. Heading back to the wilderness for the week.  Bye for now!