Portland, OR: The Return

Belmont Station

I had a couple of hours to kill before getting to the hotel. I decided to stop in at Belmont Station for a little bottle shopping as their selection is amazing. A first class bar adjoins the bottle shop so a quick sip of a Cigar City-Widmer Brothers collaboration called Gentlemen's Club and banter with the bartender was in store. I thought about the Horse Brass Pub for lunch which was just down the road but parking is damn near impossible with a Sprinter van. Instead I headed to the hotel hoping they could park me early.

Upon arrival at the hotel and after the business of getting the van parked, contacting the client, and getting checking into the room; it was time to hit the downtown area of Portland. My first destination was for a late lunch and drinks at Deschutes Brewery.

Deschutes Brewery

It was happy hour and packed but I managed to squeeze in at the bar. Started out with a sampler tray of brews. The tilted back a Black Butte XXV Porter which was outstaning (should have bought a bottle to bring home) and a sampler tray with Saison De Perle, Twilight Summer Ale, Obsidian Stout. The food was also excellent. I had a brasied pork belly. A few more beers entered my system. A nice brewery with quality. Maybe soon they will start distributing to Indiana.

I left the brewery with another destination in mind, but was sidetracked by this huge bookstore taking up almost a city block, Powell's Books. This place was the biggest bookstore I have ever stepped in. Multiple floors with tall racks upon racks of new and used books of every variety. Time escaped me as I wandered the aisles just gazing and searching for nothing particular. I walked out with a couple of purchases and then it was time to fill another craving, Voodoo Doughnut.

I dont care how trendy this establishment has become to tourists or how much locals crave them because they make a damn tasty donught. I bought a couple new to me flavors for breakfast (Diablos and Mango Tango) and one for the road (Voodoo Doll). On the way back to the hotel, I grabbed a slice of Thai pizza from Pizza Schmizza. Another day of travel and exploring was completed. Time for sleep as actual work came in the morning.

After work on my second day, I ventured the few short blocks down to Bailey's Taproom, another top beer bar in the nation and a bar I visited on my last time in town. This place is a techie and beer lovers dream. They had a digital display with all the tap listing, size of pour, and cost. Plus an Untappd feed scrolls across the top. But more importantly, an amazing and often changing selection. I had a few glasses which included a Fort George Rye Whiskey Cavitica Stout, Full Sail Chris's Summer Delight Berliner Weisse, Oakshire III-Tempered Gnome. On my way back to the hotel I found a food truck, one of many on this trip as the city embraces them with spots all over the city and lots of these establishments are wheels off for permanent location. I hit up a Mexican food cart and got a huge steak burrito. Full and very, very content it was time to go back to the hotel.

On my third day in town I managed to sneak away from lunch and found food truck scene a few blocks away. It's about one square block oarking lot with food trucks surrounding the perimeter. I had a Spam Musbi and Spicy Pork from Island Grill Hawaiian Barbeque. Another top notch food truck experience.

After work I decided to head to a brewery. And there are a plenty to choose from in Portland. I ended up at one close to the hotel called Tugboat Brewery (actually across the street from Bailey's). Its a small place with a laid back atmosphere. I tried two of the house brews with my favorite being a Russian Imperial Stout called Chernobyl. Also had a tasty Chinese Pork Tenderloin to eat from their unique menu.
Taps at Tugboat

Italian Cured Meat
  On the next day, one of the locals helpers I had for the set up raved about a sandwich place. When he ran there for lunc and grabbed us food. The place is Bunk Sandwiches and I had Italian Cured Meat. It's was great. I highly recommend it.

That night I ate dinner with the meeting planners at Pasta Pastaria. I am not a huge pasta fan but I like our clients and I wont turn down a chance for after work bonding with them. It's good for company. I had a five cheese lasagna and a Black Butte Porter. We had a good time. They called me an AV Ninja.

On the way back to the hotel I stopped in a store and I snagged a bottle of Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis Stout to sip on back in my room.

Yak Momos

It was the last day of the show. Luckily, I managed once again to sneak out for lunch again. A farmer's market was about a block away and I saw food being advertised. There were some interesting choices but I went with an item I have never had before.Yak Momos from Momo Cart which are steamed dumplings with yak meat. And there are incredible! Philly Cheesesteak from Steaks Fifth Avenue

One more night in the city. My first stop was a little store called Made In Oregon where I picked up a couple of bombers to take back home. I also wanted to go to a couple more beer destinations. So it was off to Rogue Publick House. The place was packed but once again I managed to grab a seat at the bar. I ate a trio of pork sliders, which were good. And had a Shakespeare Nitro Stout and a sampler tray because even though we get a lot of Rogue's back home there are some we do not. I had a CPT. Sig's NW Ale, Dirtoir Black Lager, 19 Original Colonies Mead, and Charlie 1981. And on my way back, once again I hit up Bailey's where several taps had changed. A Fort George Three Wiseman Oatmeal Stout (unbelievably good) and a 10 Barrel Brewing Ransom Imperial Stout crossed my lips.

By now it was getting late and I was feeling pretty good. So it was back to the hotel. I had to back and sleep. The road back home would come early.

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Observation of An Illogical mind by Sean Kimmel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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Traveling Man ... out to Portland, Oregon

I was sent out to Portland, OR at the beginning of August to work and manage the AV side if a conference for a client. It was the first time we've done this particular event though we work on other events throughout the year. Since the event was out West, it was decided that I would drive the gear and we would hire labor in Portland.

I didn't mind having the driving duty for two reasons. One: the equipment would all fit in a Sprinter van. This usually isn't the case and we are driving box trucks to the destination and following strict DOT regulations. None if that in a van. I could plan my route anyway I wanted (with in reason). Two: the drive to the Pacific Northwest is one of the few major routes in the US that I have never traveled.

I was excited and planned route around scenic sites I wanted to see and beer destinations I wanted to stop at. The way out took me to South Dakota into Wyoming through Yellowstone down to Idaho and finally into Portland. Four days to arrive.

My day one planned stop over night in Sioux Falls, SD. It was going to be a long day of driving. I got up early, after not being to sleep the night before due to over indulgence at the local beer festival and a long nap afterwards. I headed out around 7:30am and pushed hard throughout the day with Queens of the Stone and The White Stripes pumping out the speakers.

The drive took longer than I anticipated due to road construction from Chicago to Wisconsin and lots of traffic in the Wisconsin Dells area. I ready to stop by the time I hit the Minnesota state line but powered on. Around thirteen hours after my start time and a time zone switch, I arrived in Sioux Falls at dusk and stopped at the hotel I booked downtown.

I wanted to here for a particular reason. Monk's House of Ale Repute, a well known brew pub and one often rated on many best beer bars in America lists. Nothing taste better than beer and real food after a long drive with minimal stops.

I walked the few short blocks to the bar, which was not very busy even for a Sunday night. I saddled up at the bar and looked over the impressive beer menu with so many choices not available to me in Indiana. The bar had really laid back feel and a good layout. Darn good food too, I had Kobe beef kabobs. After a few beers consisting of  Left Hand Voodoo Stout, Lucky Bucket Certified Evil Porter, Gran Teton Howling Wolf Weisse, and Lake Front Fuel Cafe Coffee Stout. I wanted to walk around downtown more and see some of its offerings, but it was time to head back to hotel, clean up, and get sleep.

My day two designed stop was Cody, WY. I headed out early once again and started through the gorgeous scenery of South Dakota. The rolling hills are a thing of beauty and they go for miles. I noticed an unusal amount of motorcyles on the ride. I found out  it was the beginning of Bike Week in Sturgis, my planning I failed to find it out. Motorcycle traffic was heavy as I drove through the heart of it all. There were some very nice bikes but that is as close to to the spectacle as I ever want to get.

South Dakota
It thinned out a bit as I got into Wyoming. More luscious scenery entered my view as the miles passed. I got off the interstate to get to my destination, up into the Horn Mountains, and into the final stretch. Here is a tip, if one had even a remote feeling of having use a restroom, then stop in Sheridan, WY because there is no where to stop. I held my urine for nearly three hours before finding a gas station. Lesson learned: never pass up the opportunity to pee.

Horn Mountains
After twelve hours on the road, I pulled into Cody with the sun still in the sky, barely. This is a tourist town. The last major stop before Yellowstone and even beyond. It is expensive because it can be. The town is also historic due to Buffalo Bill Cody and has a rodeo every night. I was tempted to go but opted for food and drink at the Silver Dollar Bar where I had an Alaskan Amber, Madison River Copper John Scotch Ale, and Big Sky Moose Drool. On my way back to the over priced dumpy hotel, which served its purpose, I stopped in liquor store and bought a couple of bombers. The town was bustling with people. Again, I was whipped and a third long day of driving a head of me so I retired for the evening.

Morning came with the sun rising in my rearview and the great National forest ahead of me. The hour long stretch between Cody and Yellowstone is beautiful beyond words.
As I entered Yellowstone awe and wonderment filled me. I never realized it was mountainous (not sure why). I slowly drove through the giant pines and around Lake Butte soaking it all in with pure delight. I took my time and stopped often. I headed towards Jackson, WY and into the Gran Teton National Park each mile was more beautiful than the next. The Tetons are simply breath taking.Words cant do justice what I was seeing.

Gran Tetons
 The main reason for stopping in Jackson was Thai Me Up!, an award winning micro brewery and Thai food restaurant. Since I enjoyed both it seemed like a no brainier. Jackson is another huge tourist town and basically the first town after Cody. It is very busy in the summer and not the best place to find parking for an extended length van. I almost gave up finding a space when one appeared. I swung in and walked to the restaurant/brewery just as it was opening for lunch.

Thai Me Up
The combo of Thai Me Up provides seems odd but works very well. I had delicious green curry and two fine beers Mayhem and Big Country.
With lunch and lots of water in my belly there was still plenty of driving to do before I retired in Boise. Off I slowly drove up into the Tetons and came out in the back roads of Idaho before cutting over to Idaho Falls and back onto the interstate. 

While this day was tremendous with nature after nearly eight hours of slow back road driving, I was ready to lay the pedal to the floor. I was already exhausted and still had over three hours until Boise. This was the longest stretch of the trip out.

I did make it though and stopped at the Red Lion in downtown for the night. I had every intention of walking around and seeing Boise. But I was wiped out from three days of twelve hour plus of driving, sun burned from driving with the bright sun, and simply tired. When I saw the hotel bar with seven taps handles and a menu, I knew this would be my only stop of evening.

And it was the only stop. Food entered my system followed by local beers Salmon River Big Buzz Coffe Porter, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, and Sockeye Amber. Then nightly drill of showering and sleep followed.

The next morning I awoke early once again at daybreak. With only seven hours to go until Portland, I headed out. Part of plan was to get there mid afternoon and park the vehicle so I could spend the rest of the day exploring the city. The terrian of Southern Idaho was nice with the hills, mountains, forest, and Snake River running all about the state, I was pleasently surprsed. But not as surprised as wait awaited me in Southern Oregon.

In my mind, I always thought of Oregon and Washington as entire states of nothing but thick, dense forest. But Southern Oreogon was so much more diverse and beautiful than I could ever imaged. As a drove on the interstate which was once The Oregon Trail, the desert like mountains turned into plateaus and eventually into hills and mountains of trees as I followed the Columbia River into Portland.

I stopped at a rest area just outside of the city. I had made great time this morning and was early. It was only noon and couldn't park the van until 2pm. I knew of places to go to stall time and hopped back in the van. The city of Portland awaited my arrival.

Creative Commons License
Observation of An Illogical mind by Sean Kimmel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at
Please feel free to share the link but contact me for any other uses or publication. Thanks.