Eventually, Ry and I got around to actually checking out the city of Portland after sadly leaving our friend Ringo to pursue his solo career. We pulled up in front of our Airbnb, an eclectic bungalow surrounded by a peaceful garden on the northern edge of the city. Via text, our host for the weekend had informed us that while she would be out of town during our stay, some semi-permanent tenants would be there to let us in. No problem. Just an opportunity to make some new friends. After standing outside the gate for 10 minutes, we figured they were waiting for us inside the house and proceeded to let ourselves in the front gate. A knock on the door, however, went unanswered. After a few more knocks, I bravely decided to try the knob and then we let ourselves in (an AirB&E, if you will). Though it was a little Goldilocks of us, I figured I’d just claim I feared for their safety and was going to check on them if I was asked later by the cops.
After a brief looksie around their abode (or the entryway at least because that’s about where our bravery ended) we started to feel awkward and let ourselves out. Our next plan to find them was to cautiously venture around the side of the house, through their lush garden, where we came face to face with a large, fluffy dog. How we missed him inside is really beyond me. It appeared the dog had waltzed out of the living room through a wide-open sliding glass door. Hmm…
“Hello??” We called inside, not brave enough to casually break and enter for a second time that day (we have some limits, okay?). While petting our new friend, the worst guard dog ever, we stuck our head inside the house. Nobody home. At this curious revelation, we doubled back to the gate, where we awkwardly ran into the couple as they returned from Urban Outfitters or somewhere else too hipster for us. The guy showed us to our basement dwelling, where we became acutely aware that security was of the utmost concern to these people. “Nah guys, don’t worry about a key; just come and go as you please.” Uhhh… ok. After briefly reading over the vegan-only rules for the small kitchen in our suite, we got a hankering for some beer and meat and headed into the city.
While waiting to catch a bus, a vigilante photographer appeared out of nowhere. In seconds, he was on us like hipsters at a record store opening. The exchange went something like this:
Man: “Hey you two! Listen, I’m an art student. I am majorly behind on a project to take portraits of 100 strangers. It’s due tomorrow and I only have 13. Can I haz yo picture?”
Me: “Sure! Ryan would be glad to have you take his photo!”
So, some guy in Portland probably has a picture or two like the one below of Ry hanging on his fridge at home. Way to take one for the team.
Downtown, we grabbed a bite and some brewskis at Deschutes. Since no trip is complete without books, after dinner we went down the street to one of the largest independent bookstores in the world, Powell’s City of Books. Powell’s had something like 4 giant floors full of books. Of course, with the popularity of the store came buttloads of people, but that was a small price to pay for the exhaustive selection.
The next day, we made our way to the Portland Saturday Market. Given my fondness for both elephants and tasty treats, we made sure to snag an Elephant Ear – a delicious concoction of dough, sugar, and cinnamon, not unlike a flat sopapilla. After all, if it’s not about elephants, it’s irrelephant.
After stopping in a variety of coffee shops and, later, breweries, we made our way to Voodoo Doughnuts (at 2:30 AM so you can take a logical leap as to our state). Weighing our options regarding the large selection of tasty treats, I concluded that no fewer than 14 doughnuts would do for us. I think I become more ambitious about eating the more… fun… I have. In reality, 2 probably would have been more than enough. On the plus side, my intern at the time, Lesly, sure enjoyed the left over box of donuts that we smuggled through the airport.
On our last day in Portland, we said goodbye to the hippy haven we’d come to call home and caught a bus into the city. Thankfully for Ry’s sake, no creepy photographers approached us. On the bus, we told the driver that we needed to buy 2 metro day passes as we’d need to take the light rail to the airport. In a bizarre fashion, she proceeded to procure two tickets through a combination of wild hole punching and scribbling, entering some kind of secret code from her pocket typewriter. Kinda weird but we shrugged, paid the woman, and went about our business. Before hopping on the train to the airport, we made one last stop (in the pouring rain): the world’s smallest park. Ry also went for a quick dip in the fountain across from it (to fulfill his peculiar obsession with water features).
As our trip wound to a close, we found ourselves in a bit of a pickle. You see, Fare Inspector General began making his way down the corridor of the rail car. No sweat, we whipped out our hastily-written slips of paper that we bought off the bus driver. “Tickets” the Inspector demanded. Nonchalantly, we handed him the tickets without breaking from our conversation. At this point, we were public transport pros. We must’ve missed his first interjection, because next thing we know, the man is in our faces like a Croatian passport official. “‘Scuse me, these tickets are invalid. I’m gonna need to see some ID.”
Was this a joke? No way did we do this wrong. We didn’t even purchase them in Polish. Somewhat shocked, we tried to stammer our case to the man, appealing that we had paid for these passes from bus driver lady. Well apparently, she had entered in the wrong secret code, thereby invalidating our passes. This was America, so bribes were out of the question. From there, we went with the “we’re from out of town” card. He seemed to acquiesce, told us we were henceforth banned from Portland public transport for the next 90 days, and let us off with a written warning of sorts. A fitting end for a fun, at times, befuddling adventure. We’ll be back – just well after our 90 days have expired.