Thursday, October 11, 2007

My weekend in Portland

I had booked rooms at the host hotel which was really two hotels; the regular Portland Hilton and the Hilton Executive Tower across the street. Our rooms were in the Executive Tower. I arrived Friday night and Pam arrived Saturday. Check-in went very smoothly, I got my key cards and went up to the 19th floor. And discovered my room was directly opposite the elevators. Uh oh, not very quiet. I went inside and realized I was on the street side, above the Sixth Street construction project. Where they were busy working away even though it was after 6:30 pm. I called the front desk and pleaded that they move me but the hotel was booked and I'd just have to live with the noise. Fine then, not like I was going to sleep much anyway!

I decided to go to the expo and packet pick-up since it was open late. I could get an idea of what was there so that we could breeze through on Saturday. After that I wanted to get to a drugstore to pick up water and snacks, maybe find a restaurant for dinner. I never found the drugstore. I had asked while checking into the hotel where I could find one and they pointed out the direction and said it was 3 blocks away. Well, I walked about 5 blocks in one direction, turned around, walked 4 blocks in another and back again, then tried the last direction that might have been pointed out. We all know that I'm directionally challenged but that was ridiculous. It was dark, getting late and I was tired so I didn't bother trekking the last direction (which, I found out on Monday, was where I should have gone). I headed back to the hotel and ordered room service.

They finally delivered my yummy pizza and beer, I unpacked my race stuff and set it out, then went to bed. I slept surprisingly well, for a few hours, and didn't hear too much construction noise in the early morning. I ate a bagel in my room, then Bree and Sandy picked me up and we headed off to a nice local coffee shop in Bree's sister's neighborhood. The Coffee Plant was a converted house with excellent baked goods and tasty coffee. I managed to resist the pastries and just enjoyed my decorated latte.

When we finished we headed over to a local grocery to pick up the waters and snacks we needed. Zupan's Market reminded me of Whole Foods and we wandered through, picking up necessities and treats. The bakery case looked fabulous but we still managed to walk on past.

We headed to the airport, picked up Pam and returned to the hotel so she could check in. There was no problem, even though it was earlier than the stated check in time. She dropped her bags in her room and we walked over to the expo.

I had two places in Portland I needed wanted to go to; Powell's City of Books and a local yarn store. Nobody else had anything planned, and we needed to burn some time, so it was agreed that we would go. But first, it was lunch time and we needed to carbo load! We saw a noodle place right across the street from Powell's and decided that would work perfectly. Noodles & Company turned out to a great choice for lunch.

I was given a short, set time to browse and buy at Powell's so I got to work quickly. Two four seven books later I was waiting in line to pay, exactly on time. Then it was on to the yarn shop. Yay!

I had picked the LYS online; it was in the neighborhood of Powell's and that was pretty much why I picked that one. I knew by the whimsical window display that Knit Purl would be a great choice. I walked in and stood inside, looking around. Wow, I just love the colors and smells of a yarn shop. I took a quick spin around, then another, then got down to the serious business of picking out something special.

The people were friendly and helpful and what's that?? A mechanized winder?? Watch that baby spin! They had hooked up the winder to a small motor and with a few belts created a superwinder. What a great idea, and so much fun to watch.

After lots of serious consideration I ended up buying only 3 skeins of yarn. I fell in love with this shaded pink alpaca, Shibui Knits Baby Alpaca DK and bought 2 skeins of it. It was so soft it was hard to put down for them to wrap. I'm thinking a lovely drop stitch scarf would work wonderfully. The other skein just jumped out at me because of the colors. The picture doesn't do it justice but it's brilliant turquoises with deeper blues and greens. This is Jitterbug by Colinette Yarns in Jay, a superwash sock yarn. There's even a sock pattern on the inside of the label.

They asked if I wanted the yarn wound and although I was tempted, just to see that winder in action again, I asked them just to put the yarn in tissue for packing ease. They did, wrapping each skein separately like little gifts. All in all, a great visit to a LYS. I highly recommend this shop!

Then I had to track down my friends. I realized I hadn't seen them since I walked in the shop. I walked out, looked around, hmm. The car was still there but they weren't. I stood around for a while, wandered here and there, decided to call them. I called Bree first but the call went to voice mail. I called Sandy but the call went to voice mail. Then I called Pam and yep, to voice mail. Finally I noticed a Starbucks across the street and guessed they might be there. Oh yeah, there they were, blissfully unaware that their phones weren't ringing.

We still had some time to burn before dinner so Bree drove us all around Portland. It was fun seeing areas I hadn't seen the first time I'd been there. We drove up in the hills along narrow twisty roads, down to the water, over to other areas. Finally we had burned enough time to go eat. Then we had to find somewhere.

We ended up at a pasta place a few blocks from the hotel. Probably not the smartest thing to pick a pasta restaurant right by the host hotel of a marathon because we ended up waiting about 45 minutes. Then we waited for our waitress who spent most of our dinner trying to avoid us. The food was ok, nothing special, but it was carb-y and went down fine.

Back to the hotel, final layout of clothes, and surprisingly to sleep. An early wakeup Sunday, the race, and back to the room (yes yes yes, I'll do a race report later). It was strange having my own room this time; it's been a long while since I haven't shared with either Sandy, Petra or both of them. I read, watched a little tv, rested, rehydrated, rested some more.

For our celebration dinner we picked Rock Bottom Brewery; we all had different ideas of the perfect post-race splurge and that seemed to offer choices. I ended up having ribs, my favorite protein after a long run (and it's pretty much the only time I ever eat them). They were good. Not as good as the fries on my plate, or the cole slaw, but still very good. And I surprised myself by not being able to finish them.

After dinner Bree dropped us back at the hotel. She and Sandy were taking an early Monday flight but Pam and I had both taken Monday off and decided to take a mid-day flight. After a restless night I got up and packed, then met Pam for breakfast. Bree had recommended a great place and so we walked over there. It was about a half mile away and uh oh, it was closed! We were disappointed and headed back toward the hotel along another street, hoping to find somewhere. We ended up at Greek Cusina, the place with the purple octopus above the door. The bacon was wonderful (another treat I only have after a long run) but the Greek Scramble was ordinary and blah.

We went back to the hotel, finished packing, checked out and caught a cab to the airport. In great contrast to my first driver in the city, this one was chatty. He didn't stop talking the entire time we were in the cab. I tuned out much of it, nodding my head and "uh huh"ing when it sounded appropriate. We paid him off and headed to baggage check.

I've talked about the end of our trip, the airport problems we had so I won't repeat it. It was a great trip and I'm glad I got to see the nicer parts of Portland. Great thanks go to Bree for driving and Bree's sister for giving us use of the car. And thanks to Bree, Sandy and Pam for allowing me to get my book and yarn shopping done!

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