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A Week with the Freaks, Pt. 2: Portland


Part II of our trip to the Pacific Northwest, this time in Portland.


“I think I’m getting high off your toes.” – Me to Anna after she came home from a pedicure and sat with her feet near my face.

The databases aren’t working properly at both epicthings.com and littlethings.com so I got sent home for the day, meaning that I can write the second part of this saga. I probably should do the washing, too, but that can wait. Now, where did we leave off?

Thursday, May 5
We went on our two-and-a-half hour road trip from Seattle to Portland and arrived at our hotel at around 12:30am. Anna booked the place on airbnb.com and this place looked incredible! We checked in, went up to our room and were instantly disappointed. Our room was beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it was smaller than our bedroom in New York, no TV or anything and there was a communal bathroom. Bummer, because I struggle to think of anything less appealing than the thought of having to drop a deuce in public.

Anna and myself went downstairs to see the clerk and I just let Anna do all the talking. This is a woman you do not argue with, why do you think I’m going to do the washing soon? Anyway, she got it sorted, but we had to stay there that night. We could handle one night, I guess, I hadn’t had a big dinner.

We got up at about 10.00am, I had my communal shower and communally brushed my teeth and we checked out, went to grab a coffee and found a new hotel. We couldn’t check in until later in the day so we dropped off our bags and had a look around Portland. Now, neither of us really knew a whole lot about Portland outside of the show PortlandiaIf you haven’t seen it before, this is what we anticipating:

And, to be honest, that’s really not that far off the mark. Our new hotel was on the edge of Chinatown, but there wasn’t a whole lot to see there. The rest of the city, on the other hand, is really cool.

A few sights from our new neighbourhood:

One cool thing about Portland is that there are microbreweries everywhere and the weather was great so we checked into our hotel, went out and pulled up a stool for the night.

Friday, May 6
Besides microbreweries, Portland’s wineries are supposed to be pretty decent so Anna wanted to go check some out, but first we’d need coffee and doughnuts. The first stop? Why, Voodoo Doughnut, of course! These doughnuts were pretty spectacular, too, and you know they’re hipsters when they spell ‘doughnut’ correctly. Take a look for yourself:

If you look closely in the cabinet in the last photo, the stickers say “I Got VD in Portland” and “The Magic is in the Hole.” Anna got a Portland Cream and a blueberry doughnut, but mine was covered in Froot Loops.

We hit the road for an hour or so and headed to a place called Cornelius, a town of about 12,000 people and went to A Blooming Hill Vineyard. I’m not a wine person, I know nothing about it besides the fact that it must be reasonably okay if I don’t make an involuntary “gaaack” sound when I drink it, so I just hung out and played with their dog.
It sure was a nice place, though:

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Anna bought a couple of bottles and we got back in the car. Our next stop was the one that we would remember the most, however — McMinnville. We had no idea about the place, we just knew it was the next major town, roughly about 32,000 people and there was supposed to be some good food there. We just weren’t aware of this little tidbit:

McMinnville is known among UFO researchers for photographs published on the front page of the June 9, 1950, edition of the city’s newspaper, the News-Register (then known as the Telephone-Register), reportedly of an unidentified flying object seen almost a month earlier, May 11. The Oregonian published the photographs the next day, and within a month they were published in LIFE magazine.

Oh, that sounds interesting, tell me in a little more detail! Okay, according to this:

McMinnville_UFO_Photograph

I probably would’ve forgotten about this the next day…

The McMinnville UFO photographs were taken on a farm near McMinnville, Oregon, United States, in 1950. The photos were reprinted in Life magazine and in newspapers across the nation, and are often considered to be among the most famous ever taken of a UFO. The photos remain controversial, with many ufologists claiming they show a genuine, unidentified object in the sky, while many UFO skeptics claim that the photos are a hoax.

But it happened in 1950, why worry about it now? Surely the entire town has moved on in the last 66 years? Nope:

The heated debate which followed between UFO researchers and skeptics made the town’s name famous and has spurred an annual “UFO Festival” in McMinnville, the second largest such gathering in the United States to that of Roswell, New Mexico.

And we arrived pretty much in the middle of it all. I would’ve loved it when I was 10 years old, but when you’re in your late 30s and are surrounded by conspiracy nuts who are convinced ‘The Truth is out There’ it becomes kind of weird. Seattle had quite a few people selling Sasquatch merchandise but it was all pretty tongue-in-cheek, I even bought the most redneck thing I could find — A “Gone ‘Squatchin'” stubby-holder, but these insane UFO people are genuinely frightening. Fortunately we didn’t encounter too many nutjobs.
First we stopped off at some flea markets and they had some pretty cool stuff, that’s where I picked up my ’70s Harlem Globetrotters thermos. We then went into the main part of the town, had a look at the only street of shops and then went to The Bitter Monk, a really good pub and microbrewery. A few UFO-based shots from around the town (it wasn’t intentional, but that shit was everywhere!):

Dinner at Thistle was spectacular, but it was time to ditch the UFO freaks and head back to Portland. Once there we were off for a couple more drinks.

Saturday, May 7
Our last full day in Portland so we better make it count. First, we’d need to head back to Deadstock, a cafe owned by a huge basketball fan to house his sneaker collection. This was a place where I’d just end up hanging out, chatting with the guy each time we went in. Next it was to a market on the edge of the water and just a stroll around town. Here is some of what we saw:

I think the highlight for me, though, would have to be this woman rockin’ out:

I guess we had spring rolls for lunch.

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As soon as I saw this Rasheed Wallace t-shirt I had to have it.

The Portland Trailblazers were playing the Golden State Warriors that night in Portland in game three of the NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals. There’s not much of a playoff atmosphere in New York, considering both the Knicks and the Nets failed to make it, but when you’re in a city that only has one professional sporting team, they tend to get into it.
Tickets would cost thousands of dollars, however, there was apparently a great bar across from the Moda Center, but it was a little out of the way and I assumed it would be full of douchebags and their bromances trying to put a competitive element on every aspect of what should just be a fun night out, so we opted for a microbrewery near our hotel (right) and watched as the Blazers beat the Warriors by 12. We stuck around most of the night, but we had an early start and a long day ahead of us tomorrow.

Sunday, May 8
We checked out of our hotel and began to drive back to Seattle. The plan was to leave at about 12.30pm, make the two-and-a-half hour trip back to SEATAC airport, stopping off at the shittiest roadside diner/truck stop we could find on the way for lunch. We were about 30 minutes out of Portland when I started thinking what would happen if someone broke into our car at the diner. I figured we’d be fine as long as we kept our passports in Anna’s bag, because, for some messed up reason that can on be linked to paranoia, we require a passport for domestic travel in the US. “Hey Anna, did we take our passports out of the safe?” Crap! So we turned around, drove back to the hotel, got our passports and made our way back to the airport.
Despite the fact that the flight was delayed, we still missed it, but there was another in six hours. We got tickets, waited around in the bar and caught our flight. I had a minor seizure again during the flight, but nothing too bad, the main issue was that we got to Newark airport at about 7:30am, so we caught rush hour traffic from New Jersey to New York when we were in the taxi home.

We had an excellent time in both Portland and Seattle, I’d recommend anyone to go there and the Pacific Northwest is definitely our favourite part of the US. Apparently the ARVO conference in Seattle was great, too, which was the reason we went.

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Anna and her poster at the conference. I was an English teacher and I would struggle to spell half of those words!

Now, off to London on Wednesday for Anna’s cousin’s wedding, then Niagara Falls and St. Catherines, Canada, the week after. Great success!

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About Dr. Tan's Travels (99 Articles)
My name's Tim. I'm a freelance writer and former ESL teacher from Melbourne, Australia, who taught in Daejeon, Korea for six months in 2007 and, until February 2015, had taught in Singapore for seven years. My wife, Anna, is an ophthalmologist. Between March 2015 and July 2016 we spent a month in Pondicherry, India, three months in Bonn, Germany, and 12 months in New York before returning to Singapore, all for training and work placements for her. The reason I wanted to keep this blog is because I suffer from epilepsy and have a terrible memory, therefore this would be a great way to help me remember our travels. I will do my best to keep it updated and even continue writing now that we're back in Singapore, but there is one problem; I have a pretty severe phobia of anything medical.

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