Saturday, March 14, 2015

Portlandia

I don't know how it took me SO long to post about this, but it should be known that Ryan and I took a trip without kids! We went to Portland to visit my dear friend Alex and her husband, Chris. Ryan was planning to give me a plane ticket to visit Alex for my birthday. Then, when he looked at prices for plane tickets and realized how crazy inexpensive they were, he thought it would be fun for both of us to go! My amazing mom drove down from St. George to stay with the kids for the long weekend. She even threw Lila a little birthday party, since we had the audacity to leave on Lila's birthday. (Though let the record show that we did give her a very fun birthday the day before her birthday.) The kids had all kinds of fun with Grandma and I'm pretty sure they didn't miss us very much because they were too busy playing with one of their favorite people.

We left for Portland Wednesday afternoon. The flight was so relaxing and quiet--we both got to read our books for over an hour with no interruptions, then got to talk for a long time with no interruptions! That's like a vacation right there. Upon arriving in Portland, we had to take a picture of our feet with the carpet. Apparently taking a foot selfie with the Portland carpet is a thing, so we couldn't not do it. The airport is replacing the carpet soon, so we were glad we got to see the original carpet in all it's Art Deco glory!


Alex picked us up from the airport and I was just SO dang excited to see her! Alex and I were enemies in elementary school, but realized in middle school that we were crazy and became best friends by eighth grade. Then I moved (sad), but we kept in touch. We were reunited again in college--she came to visit me pre-Ryan, then when she moved to Provo post-Ryan we got together often! Anyway, Alex picked us up and we went straight to Little Big Burger, a local place with tasty hamburgers and AMAZING fries. After dinner, we walked across the street to Salt and Straw, which has literally the best ice cream we've ever had. Oh. My. Gosh. The ice cream was so rich and super creamy and just heaven. Salt and Straw has many "interesting" flavors--like Strawberry Honey Balsamic and Pear with Goat Cheese. We sampled a few of the more adventurous flavors, but each settled on a more traditional flavor to enjoy. YUM. After we were sufficiently stuffed, we drove to Alex's house and spent the next few hours catching up with Alex and Chris and meeting their adorable corgi, Charlotte.


We started Thursday in Chris and Alex's chiropractic practice. They started their own practice a while ago (Chris is the chiropractor, Alex is the office manager) and we loved seeing their office. They designed the entire office and it looks awesome. We left them to work and went to catch the streetcar! I've not used much public transportation in my life, so I was pretty pumped. Our first stop was Powell's Book Store. Powell's is gigantic! Numerous floors with various rooms housing thousands of books. The store was a little bit overwhelming, but a book lover's dream! We picked out a Roald Dahl chapter book for the boys, then decided to explore the city on foot a while.


One of the places we ran into on foot was a really beautiful old church. Ryan and I both love old buildings, and we were thinking about trying to see if we could go inside the church when we realized that an episode of Grimm was being set up to be filmed as we watched. There were people and trucks and sound equipment everywhere. We don't watch Grimm, but now I feel like we need to, ha!


We also saw this random huge elephant statue in the middle of a greenway/park. The elephant was super cool and we had to stop to take a picture for the boys. Directly across the street from the elephant were these two old, squat buildings whose roofs were entirely covered in moss. The trees above them were also covered in moss. Portland natives are probably used to all this moss, everywhere (it seriously grows in the cracks of the sidewalks), but so much green was so foreign to me and I kind of couldn't get over it!


After a while we decided to find lunch. Alex and Chris had told us to just pull up yelp wherever we were at lunch time and we'd be able to find somewhere good nearby. They weren't joking. There were over 30 restaurants within a one-mile radius that had 5 star ratings! Portland is a city of good food. We settled on a Mexican joint. When we got there, we realized it was connected by a very shady-looking door to a strip club! If you needed the restroom, you had to go in the strip club and use their! We didn't use the restroom. We did eat the food, though, and it was delicious!


After lunch, we rode the streetcar up to Nob Hill and wandered through some cute shops. We were getting closer to the time we needed to head back, so we rode the streetcar back downtown and saw our Mecca: TARGET. And not just any Target, but a City Target. I didn't even know that was a thing. You may not know this about us, but Ryan and I end pretty much every date at Target--so it seemed only fitting that we explore the City Target!



After Target, we decided to walk back to Chris and Alex's office rather than take the streetcar! Our decision to walk was a good one. We got to walk across one of Portland's many bridges and the view was gorgeous! We also got to examine the crack in the road where the bridge separates when boats need to come through. We could see the river below, which sparked my fear of heights a little bit.



We went to two antique-type shops back on Alex and Chris's side of the bridge, then went to meet up! We were going to a place called The Screen Door for dinner, and apparently the line can get quite long. The restaurant is only open for dinner and, on the weekends, for brunch--but it is always full. After we ate, we definitely knew why! Their fried chicken was literally the most delicious fried chicken I've ever had, in my life. The chicken was super moist and tender, and the breading was perfectly crunchy. I'm salivating a little just remembering it! After dinner, we went home and talked late into the night again! Those late night talking fests were one of my favorite parts of the trip.


Chris and Alex had a shorter schedule on Friday, so Ryan and I just planned to walk around in their neighborhood to see what there was to see! Alex recommended this little cafe for breakfast (and sadly, I can't remember the name now), so Ryan and I decided to try it. We had gigantic blueberry muffins and equally gigantic cups of hot cocoa. The food was, in a word, delicious. We were satisfyingly stuffed, so decided to walk around for a while. There were a few cute little shops we wanted to check out. We did a lot of checking out of shops, because with the kids we either forego cute little shops or spend the time inside the shops making sure no one knocks anything breakable off the shelves!


Alex and Chris live directly across the street from a cemetery, so when we'd done enough shop wandering, we decided to stroll through the cemetery. The cemetery was really old--a lot of the gravestones were worn smooth from weather. The gravestones that were still readable had moss growing IN the letters. I told you I couldn't get over the moss. We were surprised by the high number of Russian graves--I had no idea Portland had such a large Russian population.


After wandering through the cemetery, we went back to Chris and Alex's house to relax and read and hang out with Charlotte the corgi. I must mention that I am really not a dog person, but Charlotte showed me why people love dogs. She's super chill and super cute. Anyway, we both enjoyed some down time (another thing we don't get!). When Chris and Alex got home, we did more talking (of course), so eating, and lots of relaxing. Then we went to our next destination: Voodoo Doughnut!



Ryan and I both love doughnuts (I'm pretty sure doughnuts are my favorite treat, ever), and Voodoo is famous, so we knew we had to go! They had a ton of crazy flavors, but eventually we settled on grape, maple bacon, chocolate filled, and chocolate peanut butter with rice krispies. I also tried a bit of Alex's Mt. Hood doughnut. I think my favorite was the maple bacon but they were all super tasty!



Ryan and I can't take a posed picture to save our lives. Anyway, after doughnuts we drove to Pittock Mansion. The mansion is at the top of this hill that overlooks the city, and the view is amazing!We weren't there long before a security guard came and kicked us out so he could lock up (20 minutes early, ha!). No one will be surprised to find out that we stayed up late talking once again!


On Saturday, we made a day trip to Seattle! I've also never been to Seattle so was *quite* excited. The drive was a few hours long but I was still in awe of all the green, everywhere, that it went pretty quickly! In Seattle, we first stopped at Target to use the bathroom--and I had to take a picture, because Target told me "hi" again--


--then we met up with Alex's college roommate Ledja and her husband Lance. Our goal for the day was to eat our way through Pike's Place Market, which I think was a very good goal. And we did indeed do a lot of eating. Ryan and I tried some really, really good jerky, a calzone, a pulled pork filled chinese bun, a gigantic cinnamon knot, a crazy good cheese sample, and a Piroshky Piroshky blueberry-cream pastry, as well as another Piroshky Piroshky pastry that I can't remember the name of. Piroshky Piroshky is a famous bakery that has been in the Pike's Place Market forever. The line wrapped around the corner, but the reward was well worth the wait!



We, of course, had to stop at the Pike's Place Fish Market. We'd seen it before on Food Network and it's kind of not a trip to the Market unless you go to the Fish Market. When someone purchases a fish, the guy out front throws the fish through the air to the guy behind the counter, who then packages the fish. The flying fish is quite entertaining to watch. While we were at the market, we found Lila's souvenir: a beautiful painting of the ocean with purple tones to match her room!



Another place of note in the Market is the gum wall. It's kind of super gross, with layer upon layer of gum just coating the wall--but you can't not see it. Ryan pretended to lick it and other bystanders were freaking out, which was hilarious.




When we'd seen what we wanted to see at the Pike's Place Market, we walked around the downtown area for a little while until Lance and Ledja had to go. Then the rest of us went down to the Pier. The view of the ocean was gorgeous. We were in an inlet of the ocean, so could see land across the water, not too far from where we were. Ryan and Chris made fun of us, but Alex and I each took several pictures, both of the water and of ourselves, until we finally got a successful shot!


The sun was going down, but we weren't done partying yet! We drove over to the space needle and lucked out with the best parking spot, ever. The area around the space needle has several museums, as well as an amazing outdoor gigantic fountain (really hard to explain) and other sculptures and statues to look at as you walk around. We admired just about everything and especially appreciated the space needle being lit up in Seahawks colors (the Seahawks were playing in the Super Bowl the next weekend). We even saw Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper, so we had to take a picture for the boys.



We were sufficiently worn out by that point--and still had a drive to make--so we started back for Portland. We stopped for a quick dinner on the way home, and everyone pretty much collapsed into bed when we got back!


And then suddenly it was the last day of our trip! Our flight didn't leave until late afternoon, so Chris and Alex took us to Multnomah Falls for one last hurrah. Multnomah Falls is a gorgeous hike. There is a bridge you cross right in front of the falls when you are about 1/3 of the way up. Then you wind through many, many switchbacks (our poor calves were burning!) and come out above the falls, where a platform with a fence was built so you can look over the top. The view really is stunning.








You know all the green I love in Portland? The green is from the rain. And, as it turns out, rain turns dirt to mud. So the trail was a little muddy, especially at the top, but not too bad.



After the hike, Alex made us a tasty dinner, then it was off to the airport once again! The flight home was a nice time to talk and relax before we made it back to real life.




On Monday morning I was greeted by my three sweethearts, whom Ryan and I missed a lot! We had such a fun trip and it was just what we needed to get us ready for the craziness of tax season.


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