An Introduction to Portland

Um. What did I say, “de ja vu all over again”? No sooner had I finished typing the blog this morning and uploading it, courtesy of the free WiFi on Amtrak’s Cascades train, than we ground to a halt. At a halt we resolutely remained for an hour. The explanation was that the Chambers Creek Drawbridge at Chambers Bay, south of Tacoma, had failed. I’m pretty sure British Rail never came up with the “The Drawbridge Has Failed” excuse? Bottom line was that the scheduled 15:05 arrival at Portland was shot to pieces. Turned out to be 16:20.

Castle Rock

Read all about it….


Other than the late arrival, which having kept Colin updated by text, wasn’t that big a deal, it was a pleasant enough journey. There was a bit of 40mph feet dragging, but mostly we were batting on at 80mph. Business class was comfortable enough, a 1 + 2 configuration meant I was seated on my own on the left side. The carriage was full but with the exception of a small child at the front, most everyone kept themselves amused quietly for the duration. To be fair, said child got a bit whiney during the hour’s delay, a point-of-view I tended to sympathise with, but was otherwise very well behaved.

My second arrival at Portland’s Union Station wasn’t much less shambolic than the first. The baggage handling process there is straight out of Victorian Britain, but in the end it works and I walked out with my 65lb of luggage. Colin was at the station front to meet me and we were soon off through Downtown Portland.

I had a lot to take in very quickly. We had a lot to catch up on, a lot to talk about in respect of my trip, family, plans, where we were etc. etc….. Pretty much all I took away from my blurred introduction to Portland (and I stress this is no criticism of my host, simply my slow uptake…) was the plethora of food trucks around the city. Apparently, they are really the ‘in thing’. Portland as a city, in fact Portland as a concept, I very quickly understood, is not something I am going to grasp in a whistle-stop visit. It is very obviously a unique city with a very strong character.

Colin took me back to the family home. As with my time stopping with Carl and his family, and am not going to publicly blog anything about my time in the house out of respect of the family’s privacy. Having got settled in, we headed back into the city for food and a few drinks. Colin took me on a further tour of the outskirts of the city and I have to say, geographically at least, this helped me make more sense of the surroundings. Please don’t test me on it though.

For dinner, we went to Produce Row Cafe. Like many ‘in’ places in Portland, this is based in a former industrial area, now given over to cafes & bars, storage facilities and trendy offices. The beer choice was fantastic and the food excellent. I chose meatloaf for dinner and apart from the fairly tangy sauce that covered it, masking the taste of the accompanying beers a little, I really enjoyed it. Drinks wise, I had; Amnesia Slow Train Porter at 5% (we had passed the Amnesia Brewing Co. a few minutes previously on our tour, so that was pretty damn local), Anderson Valley (CA) Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout 5.7% (world’s longest beer name?) and Everybody’s (WA) Country Boy IPA 6.2%.

Produce Row Cafe

From there, we moved on to Colin’s ‘local’, a unique place called Goose Hollow which has been embedded in Portland folklore for over 40 years. Although fairly quiet, being a Monday night, we were immediately engaged in (random) conversation by a trio of local characters and although we only stopped for one drink, it gave me a hint of what the place could be. Phenomenal. I had a stout of some description, the name of which I missed when the server described it, not that it matters so much!

For the reason suggested above, updates over the next couple of days may be infrequent.

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