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PDX is magic

As promised, here is the blog post about my recent vacation to Portland, Oregon. (I am typing this while I am snacking on my Glico「サラパスタ -トマトサラダ」’Sala Pasta’ tomato salad flavored cocktail crackers.)

  • DATES: August 1-5, 2014
  • CITY: SFO to PDX
  • HOTEL: Residence Inn by Marriott, Pearl District
  • ROOM: #415
  • TRANSPORTATION: Public Transit (We mostly did not rent a car.)

Almost every time we travel together, my travel buddy & I try to stay at a Marriott (or Marriott-affiliated) hotel.  My buddy is a gold-status rewards card member at Marriott, so we are usually able to get free nights at our hotel with all of the points we save up.  On this trip, we were able to score one free night of stay.  That’s surely a nice way to start off our vacation.  We didn’t check-in to our hotel until around 11:30 at night, & we were starving from a lack of dinner.  Most of the nearby restaurants & bars were already closed (& had no idea there was a 24hr Subway deli just 1 block down the street from us), so we ended up eating 2 crappy Lean Cuisine microwave dinners from the hotel snack shop.

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The next morning we woke up, bright & semi-early, ready to take on PDX by foot.  Yes, we were brave foolish enough to trek the fair city of Portland just by walking, & it was the best decision we ever made.  It really forced us to look at the city in ways we never could if we were merely gazing out of a car window.  Sure, we can travel farther by car, but everything we wanted to see & do was within reach from our hotel by public transportation.

We took the bus & street car/tram only once during our entire trip; the rest of the time we walked.  Only on our second-to-last day did we actually cave in & rent a car.  We were planning on exploring East Portland & knew we couldn’t cross the bridge & explore that part of town in one day alone, so we rented a car for one & a half days.  We had originally planned on using the car rental service Car2Go, but had no way of signing up + retrieving our membership card within the duration of our stay, so we rented a car the traditional way through Dollar Rental.  For those who don’t know what Car2Go is, the easiest way to describe it is like a hybrid between a car share & a car rental.  Check out their website for a video & the complete rundown of how this all works (They might be in a city near you!).  Car2Go only uses Smart ForTwo cars, which I can understand because Car2Go is owned by Daimler AG, which is the parent of Mercedes-Benz, which is the parent of Smart.

Our Car2Go membership card arrived in the post after we came back from PDX.

Our Car2Go membership card arrived in the post after we came back from PDX.

Just as I had predicted (& planned), my travel buddy & I mostly ate, drank & spent time at the parks.  I was hoping to go shopping (possibly for some Danner &/or Pendleton goods straight from the source), but the most shopping we did was for coffee beans.  We also bought 2 coffee mugs, one from Barista Fine Roasting & one from Heart Coffee Roasters, to match our exisiting Stumptown Coffee mugs.  We visited a different coffee roaster everyday & definitely got our caffeine fix, but we didn’t visit as many beer breweries as we had originally planned.  However, we did indulge in quite a bit of beer during our PDX stay.

Places we visted for coffee:

  • Sisters Coffee Company
  • BARISTA: Fine Coffee Purveyors
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters
  • Sterling Coffee Roasters
  • Heart Coffee Roasters
  • Ristretto Coffee Roasters

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Places we visited for beer:

  • The Mash Tun Brewpub
  • Pints Brewing
  • Hair of the Dog Brewing Company
  • Deschutes Brewery

 

Eating in Portland is a very exciting experience, especially for foodies & food lovers.  No matter where you turn, there will be at least 5 restaurants within 1 city block at all times.  Trust me when I say YOU WILL NOT GO HUNGRY IN PDX. I could not believe how many restaurants, breweries, cafes & coffee roasters I passed by; I felt as though there were more eateries, roasters & breweries than there were retail shops & each place offered a different variety of food or drink.  The popular trend in PDX: locally sourced, made-from-scratch & farm-to-table ingredients.  We’ve got the same foodie trend happening here in San Francisco, but PDX really took it to another level making the food feel really homey & comforting…not upscale hipster & uppity like in SF.  Even if it’s craft, or small batch, or hand-made, in PDX the food feels like small hometown cooking & the cocktails are anything but pretentious.

Places we visited for food:

  • Clyde Common
  • Piattino
  • Grassa
  • Salt N’ Straw Ice Creamery
  • Boxer Ramen
  • Ruby Jewel Scoops
  • Lardo
  • Le Pigeon
  • Lovejoy Bakery
  • Blue Star Donut & Coffee

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Places we visited for alcohol:

  • Clyde Common
  • Kask
  • Pepe Le Moko
  • Living Room Theater
  • The Heathman Restaurant & Bar
  • Multnomah Whiskey Library

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So, we didn’t just hang around the downtown city areas & stuffed ourselves silly.  We also, as I had planned, visited many of PDX’s illustrious parks.  I didn’t just want to sit around & drink coffee/beer all day.  I wanted to do as the locals do & just chill at the park on a hot day, & boy were the days H-O-T!!! We hung out around a few of the smaller parks, but spent a majority of time at the Lan Su Chinese GardenInternational Rose Test Garden, & Japanese Garden (& took the most photos there).  The Japanese GardenInternational Rose Test Garden were a bit far from our hotel, so we walked to Providence Park Stadium (home of the Portland Timbers MLS team), & took the free bus to the gardens.  On the way back, we took the bus back to Providence Park Stadium, & from there, slowly walked back to our hotel’s neighborhood.

Parks we visited:

  • North Park Blocks
  • Japanese Gardens
  • International Rose Test Garden
  • District Park
  • Tanner Springs Park
  • Jamison Square Park
  • The Fields Neighborhood Park
  • South Park Blocks

INTERNATIONAL ROSE TEST GARDEN

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JAPANESE GARDENS

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LAN SU CHINESE GARDEN

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Today’s song of the day:
“Hot Tonight” by Tokyo Police Club
hot tonight

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DIY iPad extension

Of course this is not really a mind-blowing DIY idea.  No, I’m not painting & repurposing IKEA kitchen cabinets into a Mid-Century Modern drawer set.  Today, I’m going to share my little clever tech idea on how to make…AN EXTENSION CORD FOR THE IPAD!!!  No need to bust out the champagne here.  This is just a simple idea I stumbled upon one night when I was trying to charge my iPad AND use it while sitting in bed.  The charger kept popping out because the cord was too short.  The distance between the wall socket & my bed isn’t really that wide, but unless I’m sitting on the edge of my bed facing the wall, the cord is not going to reach the bed.  Then, I had a “lightbulb moment” where I thought about merging my Macbook laptop charger with my iPad charger (Thank you, Apple for your interchangeable & USB plugs).

I’m not sure if this will work for ALL Apple products, but this worked in my situation.

  1. I am using a standard 2010 Macbook charger & an iPad 2 charger with a flathead USB cord.
  2. For the laptop charger, remove the laptop piece of the plug & keep the long wall plug-in.  Then, for the iPad charger, remove the wall plug-in & keep the iPad piece.
  3. Connect the long wall plug-in to the iPad piece & Ta-Da!  You just made an extension cord for your gadget.

This isn’t the next great invention.  You won’t see me on the TV show Shark Tank hocking my new idea.  This is just a simple DIY project I wanted to share because I never thought of mixing & matching my gadget chargers to make one long extension cord.  Maybe this idea might work on other gadget chargers.  We’ll see…  Until then, cheers.

Today’s song of the day:
“I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers
i-wanna-get-better

molly_deer

Almost immediately after returning from Portland, OR (I will write about that trip shortly) I was whisked away to San Francisco’s annual music festival Outside Lands, held over 3-days in Golden Gate Park. This wasn’t really a planned event; I kind of planned all of this at the very last minute. My travel companion & I wanted to go to Outside Lands ever since we saw the music lineup for this year, but we were very skeptical to shell out big bucks for tickets, since we were originally planning a vacation to New York & needed to save our moola for that massive expense. So, we decided at the beginning, on not buying tickets. Plus, there was a small discrepancy on which tickets to get. My concert buddy only wanted to go for one day, & I wanted to go all three days. My concert buddy only wanted to watch The Killers on stage, but for me, there were so many other bands/artists I wanted to watch perform (ie. Arctic Monkeys, Bleachers, Capital Cities, Grouplove, Death Cab For Cutie, & my secret love…Big Freedia).

Ok, back to the original topic, my re-cap. I was really quite impressed with the way the event planners handled the whole festival. Everything was well-organized & clearly marked (I was expecting massive queuing lines & disgruntled concert-goers), except I wish they had done better bag checks because too many people were able to just waltz right in with their own alcohol & party drugs without one single staff member even batting an eye. I think what surprised me the most was 1. The very short lines to the Port-o-Potty bathrooms & 2. Everybody from the shins down was covered in dust & dirt from kicking up all the soft earth while walking on the unpaved footpaths. (I felt like I was camping like I used to do when I was a kid.) What surprised me the least was there was no TP in any of the stalls…oh & girls dressed in skimpy outfits.

Proper WOMEN’S attire for Outside Lands:
cut-off denim booty shorts, slouchy vintage t-shirt, boyfriend-style plaid shirt (to show off how grunge &/or bohemian you are), ankle boots, Ray-Ban wayfarer &/or aviator sunglasses, plenty of unnecessary jewelry (that says I’m trying way too hard to be girly AND edgy) & pasted-on makeup.

Proper MEN’S attire for Outside Lands:
vintage/graphic t-shirt or tank top, chino pants, Van’s sneakers, Ray-Ban wayfarer &/or aviator sunglasses & a haven’t-washed-my-hair-in-weeks hairstyle.

Other than the music (obviously), I loved all of the food & activities at the festival. Oh my stars! I could just spend an entire day sampling all of the food from each of the food stalls…So. Mouthwatering. Good. (I’m getting hungry just thinking back on all the food!) FYI, to eat I had the pork fried rice from Chino, beer-braised chicken soft tacosfrom Tacolicious, & a cheese tamale from Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas. To drink, I had lemonade, Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale beer, Bulleit Bourbon manhattan cocktail, & Coke.

One of the highlights of my entire music festival experience was the charcuterie break dance-off. Yes, you heard it here first…a break dancing dance-off featuring two butchers from 2 local charcuterie/butcher shops. The break dancers would dance at the front of the small stage while in the background, the butchers were chopping & slicing up a whole pig. The day’s guest butchers were from Fatted Calf Charcuterie & Avedano’s Holly Park Market, both from San Francisco. This, by far, was the most weird yet interesting live events going on at the festival. I had so much fun watching this. The most fun part was watching the butchers carefully hacking up a pig’s head. The break dancers weren’t so bad either. At the end of the show, all of the pork cuts that had been made on stage were not going to be wasted. They were going to be used to feed all of the volunteer staff (the guys picking up trash, passing out maps, etc.).

charcuterie-off-outside-lands

Photographic evidence this charcuterie break dance-off actually happened.

Now on to the music…Various artists & bands were performing on stage throughout the entire day, but the main event we were there to watch did not go on stage until the end of the night. So, we mostly wandered around the park for most of the day, soaking up the enormity of the festival. We got ⅓ of the way up to the stage just in time to watch THE FLAMING LIPS perform right before our favorite band THE KILLERS shut the house down. I’ve known of The Flaming Lips for many years, but am not really a fan of their soft, ambient rock music. Let me just start this off by saying Wayne Coyne is pure magic. He is also full of rainbows & sunshine, literally. No, I’m not joking, he invited a number of costume-clad guests up on stage during his set (including, a grassy hilltop with a rainbow-haired woman lying inside & peeking out of it, a 2-person manned rainbow, butterflies, a giant sun, 2 mushrooms, an alien, & I can’t think of the rest). I didn’t quite “get” Wayne’s outfit, a flesh & muscle depicted bodysuit that made him look like a character from the Attack On Titan anime with silver string tassels hanging from the crotch like a Japanese fundoshi (loin cloth). I enjoyed this set. I only recognized two of the songs they played, but I was still captivated by the eclectic stage show & Wayne really knew how to engage the crowd. However, I spent a fair amount of time trying to explain this band to my concert buddy who didn’t know who The Flaming Lips were at all & didn’t take a liking to their more Avant-Garde approach to music.

flaming-lips-outside-lands

Pardon my lack of quality in these photos. I strongly dislike taking out my mobile phone at concerts to take photos &/or videos. I am there to enjoy the music, not to hold up my hands & stand stock still while I block the view of the guy behind me.

I’ve seen The Killers in concert before, but somehow this performance was so much more high energy & exciting for me. Maybe it was because the moment had finally arrived, & I was ready to get the show on the road. It was such a relief when the lights turned down & the band ascended the stage.  I truly believe the light show nearly stole the spotlight from Brandon Flowers (who killed it on vocals, by the way).  You could tell that the light show was an homage to their Las Vegas roots, a bit of a nod to the flashy Vegas Strip.  One of the things I love the most about The Killers, other than their strong family values & bonds, is their love for their hometown.  In a lot of their songs lyrics or album cover art, you will notice the tongue-in-cheek homage to Las Vegas, at once making fun of the touristy glitz & honoring their beloved city all at the same time.  This set was particularly memorable for me (as well as for my concert buddy) since it was more like a Direct Hits (<—a nod to their CD’s name) set list.

The Killers played all of their hit songs & then some, really amping up the crowd between the lighting choreography changes.  I don’t think I have ever sang along or screamed so loud at a concert in my life (except at the Save Ferris concert back in 1998).  It was a good thing I had a drink with me the whole time, otherwise I would’ve lost my voice by the end of the night.  I have to admit, the greatest moments of The Killers’ set (& there were 2 separate moments) were when they performed two cover songs in between playing their own hits.  They first performed a cover of Credence Clearwater Revival‘s song “Bad Moon Rising” (a nod to a classic Bay Area band).  Then later on, they performed a slightly altered cover of Otis Redding‘s song “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” (which is a song about San Francisco). They changed the lyrics “…home in Georgia” to “…home in Las Vegas” and the lyrics “…heading to the ‘Frisco Bay” to “…heading to Outside Lands“.  Those two moments really stood out in my memory.  The Vegas boys started their set with the oh-so-popular “Mr. Brightside” & ended on a roaring bang with “When You Were Young”.  In between were a sprinkling of Hot FussSam’s TownDay & Age, & Battle Born top hits.  I kind of wish they had played their newest singles “Miss Atomic Bomb” and “Just Another Girl”, but I was still happy they performed almost all of my all-time favorite songs.  By the end of their set, I was grinning from ear-to-ear.

the-killers-outside-lands

The Killers! Can you see them? They’re the little guys behind everyone’s Go-Pros & cell phones…

In the end, I was exhausted & very sweaty from A. the whole day’s exertions (did I mention we parked 10 blocks away from the venue?), & B. people pushing shoving you just to get 1 inch closer to the stage (with lame excuses like, they have to meet their “friends” at the front of the stage). There was absolutely NO space for anybody to move even half an inch, but you’d still get pushed & squeezed in every direction.  I can’t tell you how many times I got jabbed or groped by someone’s elbow or backpack right in the chest, or how many times my feet got stomped on (practically steamrolled right over my feet).  I was, in the most extreme way possible, harshly shoved, squeezed & quite frankly barreled over by the most rudest concert-goers I’ve ever encountered in my life, & trust me…I’ve been inside a rowdy mosh pit at the Van’s Warped Tour back in the late 90s when there weren’t so many laws against trampling over people at concerts.  The event staff was great at policing the kids who thought it would be cool to sneak in a water bottle filled with tequila, or catching cheapskates not wanting to buy full-tilt cocktails at the festival & sneaking in bum-sized bottles of Fireball whiskey (which tastes appalling, in my opinion).  They were also good at catching kids trying to hop fences & bum-rush the stage, but other than that, nobody could police the courtesy, civility or manners of the general concert-going population.  While as patiently as humanly possible in that situation waiting for The Killers’ set to start, all I could hear around me were smug talks of the last time that person tripped out on ecstasy (more affectionately known as “Molly”, a word made popular by the incorrigible Miley Cyrus) or of all the marijuana smoking going around.  It made me sick to my stomach, that these kids would try to glamorize the copious & very public use of “Molly” and “Mary Jane”.

One of the main reasons people were being so unbearably rude at the music festival was because they were either highly intoxicated on drugs, alcohol, or both…on that day, it was both.  Aside from all of my ranting & hollering about the rudeness of the people, I would definitely go back to Outside Lands next year.  Although, I will bring some sort of non-weaponized stick next time, so I can poke others in their butts if they try to cop-a-feel.  Eh, maybe not. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:
“Triple Trouble” by The Beastie Boys
triple trouble

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