Saturday, April 21, 2012


Two months ago, I decided that I needed to do a weekend adventure to break up the grind and regular pace of life in this New Year. I was thinking of maybe going back to Washington D.C. for the centennial Cherry Blossom Festival, Houston to visit an old college friend, Oklahoma to visit family, or try something completely different. I decided to go with something completely different, a beer brewing festival. I needed someone to go with who would enjoy this type of adventure and was flexible and spontaneous enough to go. In fact, when I thought of the beer brewing festival adventure as a possibility, it was the thought of this friend that made me want to do something like this. He is an old high school classmate whom I have reconnected with in recent years and whom I have had opportunities to travel with several times in the past three years. If you follow my blog, you may have read past blogs about our re-connection and travels together. Since reconnecting with Erik, he has been a best friend to me. Our destination was mostly determined by his availability, and my main resources were two websites that listed all beer festivals nation wide by date (The Beer Advocate and Beer Festival Calendar), with beer enthusiasts' ratings, a short description of what they were about, and a link to their website. My search started on the east coast, looking between New York to North Carolina, and travelling before April 30th. Although the beer festivals we found sounded great, the dates we were finding conflicted with both of our schedules. I broadened my search to just our dates available. I tossed one up to Erik that would take a little more interest and adventure to bite. Portland! The 18th annual Spring Beer and Wine Festival. We both had never been to Portland. We had only heard of the beauty from our friends and we knew that Portland is known for having one of the best microbrwery scenes in the nation. Portlanders love beer, that is very clear now. As you will see, the focus of our trip was on food and beer, so I have tried my best to organize them and give some descriptions below some to help you follow, but my time for writing these days has fallen to the wayside! I hope you enjoy these walking around pictures. Erik and I fell in love with Portland from beginning to end, and we will definitely be coming back for more!

After travelling over 18 hours myself and Erik having travelled over 22 hours from Peru, we still decided to go out in this new city to enjoy the excitement of being someplace new. I am glad we did this. We had some spectacular fish tacos and this set the tone of the entire trip, the food and drink extravaganza. With free public transit within the city circle who could deny the hospitality of this new city.

The moment we got on public transit we were met with Portland hospitality. How appropriate that as we rode the train in to the city we traded stories about TSA harassment. On our second friendly encouter, we happened to receive help from a TSA agent on his way home from work at the airport about what was happening when we switched lines. Our third encounter happened as soon as we got to the Hotel we thought we were staying at. We met another friend who worked at the hotel that helped us cancel our reservation without penalty and book new rooms at a discounted rate. Red Lion Hotels are awesome!

The weather we were told was spectacular. When we got in it was in the 40s and drizzling but this was pretty much the worst of it. From what I have heard the weather is typically cold and raining, and so I would have to agree that the weather was quite nice. Friday morning it was warmer and over cast, but by the time we got into the city the weather had cleared. It was just as cold Saturday morning as when we got in Thursday night, but windy and the skies were clearing. It warmed to the 60s during that day and into the 50s at night. Walking around in the city was delightful for the entire trip.

The Spring Beer and Wine Fest, with over 50 different food, beer, cider, and wine vendors choosing photos and keeping track of what we tried became a task. Click on any of these booth photos to see the collection of vendors that we tried their beer, cider, or wine at. Between the Erik and I, we tried over 54 different drinks, and we still did not get to them all.

Rinsing Stations, after every beer we tried, we rinsed our mugs and glasses like real beer enthusiasts not to contaminate the flavor and strengths of the new beer with those of the previous.

With a few recommendations of where to eat from passing conversation, we started there and continued to receive recommendations of where to go from people we met, the food was as great as the beers we tried. We did not have a meal that dissapointed us. The places we ate were Morning Star Cafe, Fish Grotto, Thirsty Lion, Mother's, and Jade Teahouse and Patisserie. Click the images of the food to take you to more images just of the food we ate.

Induced by indulging in food and beer all day, some unexpected rest happened upon us Friday evening. For the entire weekend, the decided pace was food, beer, food, sleep, and then repeat. By Friday afternoon we were ready for our lunch break at 5:00 pm, Happy Hour! Of course the happy hour specials allowed me to order three times the amount of food than normal hours all for the sake of ordering one drink. By the finish of our meal, we both were ready for that early evening nap. It was 7PM when we returned to the hotel, and two hours was the perfect amount of time for a nap. It would still give us enough time to go back to the beer and wine fest for over an hour and then head into the city for some of the nightlife. Erik awoke at half past midnight, and I woke an hour later, and we both went back to sleep. Although we missed out on a night in the city, the extra sleep felt right. The extra time we had the next morning allowed us to really enjoy the Saturday Market and the Farmer's Market. The following photos were taken as we walked between the two market's along the Willamette River and through the city. To see more market photos click on these photos of our walk.

Looking at the Oregon Convention Center, the view from our hotel gave us a perfect vantage of the weather, and the location's proximity to everything was perfect for resting between beers and meals. With the beer and wine fest directly across the street, we could not have stayed at a better location suited for our trip. Although I didn't really go out on scenic tours of the city for the purpose of taking pictures, just walking around with my camera without a plan proved to be exactly the type of photography that I was looking for from this trip, purely restful observation type photos.

In general we avoided the wine booths because there were just so many beer booths that we really needed to focus on beer if we wanted to make the most of our time at the festival. After two days, and over 12 hours at the festival we still missed some beer booths. One Wine booth we must have passed a dozen times before I noticed the names of their wines and the merchandise they were selling. If the name Naked Winery didn't get our attention after the dozen or so passes, on the second day I noticed the word "Penetration" written on one of the T-shirts hanging on their wall, and I commented, "If Naked Winery wasn't inappropriate enough, they have taken it past the line with their wine names and merchandise." Without thinking they would respond, this began a back and forth banter with one of the vendors that ended up talking about having a softball team and showing me a shirt that read, "Some like it hot" with the number 69. This frivolous banter brought me right back to high school when talk was cheap and easily amusing and I enjoyed it. Not to mention the woman who was kicking it back was beautiful and seemed to be eager to chat. I could not help but want to visit again, after walking around for a while I found myself wanting to try some wine, buy some merchandise, and spend more time around this booth. If this was a lesson in sales, the charm and witty conversation of an attractive saleswoman can make a lasting impression on a young man. I was moved and although I did not buy their merchandise then, I am definitely following their products now and will probably buy merchandise from them in the future, all from the opportune conversation and brief memory with this young lady, "Emma" who charmed me after what I thought would be a seemingly ignored remark.

Other vendors besides beer and wine vendors stood patiently tempting passers-by to indulge in their snacks or learn more about their products with key questions to lure you in. Some local businesses we were able to dodge because we were from south Florida and their products were irrelevent to us out-of-towners, but most were food products and usually eye-contact meant interaction. Beer Truffled Brownies, if I can call them that, were treats we could not resist, and we were glad we made that stop, the vendors Kyra and Jenna, from Crave Bake Shop, were oh so helpful in finding great places to eat in the area; both Mothers and Jade Bistro were recommendations from them. After trying their brownies we were at their mercy when it came to food recommendations. For sure we couldn't go wrong with recommendations from two-time cupcake war champions. Our enjoyment of their recommendations paid dividends and we frequented their booth just to entice more passer-byers to try their delicious treats.

While there were many people we met who were fantastically friendly, and refreshing to meet. There are a few that stand out among the crowds. Occasionally as we stood by a booth we would be approached for conversation, this was usually initiated by eye-contact and your typical greetings, and sometimes the conversation would flow like we were meant to speak and share our lives with one another. It had been a couple hours of beer-tasting that we decided to taste some ciders to clear our palettes after some particularly stronger tasting beers. We found ourselves stopped at 2 Towns Ciderhouse, and we were approached by an older couple and soon learned that they were the parents of the Cider Maker for 2 Towns Ciderhouse and they were there to support their son, Lee Larsen. Our conversation was fluid and they introduced us to their son whom was younger than us but well established in his cider making experience. We learned a little bit about cider making and that another great festival to come back for is their summer beer and wine fest. We definitely want to make a trip for that summer fest next year!

So after visiting Portland for the first time, my life has taken a dramatic unexpected turn, a week after I returned home, I was offered a new job about 15 minutes away from home doing similar work that I do now, but for a different type of software. If you have followed my blog, you would probably know my biggest complaint is not having enough time to balance my life between family, friends, work, and photography. This opportunity would allow me to gain at least two hours a day of my life back which seems very significant. Turning in my letter of resignation and saying goodbye to friends at work has been more difficult than I ever imagined it would be, and I was dreading it to begin with. While I don't know whether the added time will mean more time for photography, I do know that the immediate affect on my life right now will be pretty dramatic.