Portland, OR! A city so metropolitan people sometimes ask me, in low, concerned tones, if we all have running water yet. (Former answers include: ‘Yes,’ ‘Nah, we just turn our faces up to the sky and guzzle like turkeys,’ and ‘When the revolution comes…’) But fear not sports fans, if you’re traveling in to see the Thorns, the Thunder, the Timbers, the Trail Blazers, or the Winterhawks (or even straying from our Lady of Urban Sprawl to come and catch a Hillsboro Hops game) I’ve got all the best places to eat, drink, and recline merrily. Else what’s an equipment manager for?
Airport O’ My Airport
Much as I love the grand ol’ Portland International Airport, as a frequent guest I can tell you that if your layover doesn’t involve an overnight, it’s not worth the effort of clearing security to leave. Instead, it’s best to grab a Black Tiger Mocha from Coffee People (Concourses B, C, E, and the North Lobby), settle in at Laurelwood Brewery or Beaches Restaurant & Bar, and while away the time by soaking up that heavenly free wifi. Part of my ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ ritual is to buy one last book from Powell’s Bookstore, an Oregonian treasure with an offshoot just past the ticketing booths.
The City of Bridges, Roses, and Public Transportation
If you do have an overnight, the strip malls surrounding PDX are easily accessible from the MAX Line, our light rail train. Get on the Red Line and grab some hot wings at Buffalo Wild Wings or pancakes at IHOP, and then spend a night at Aloft Portland Airport Hotel or the 19 other hotels (including the Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, and Howard Johnson’s) located around Airport Way. The best way to find a good room for the night is to get on the wifi to kayak.com, and make sure to click the tab that says ‘has airport shuttle!’
No true Oregonian steps farther than 3 feet without walking into a microbrew or a coffee shop or, for the truly adventurous, a vegan food cart (watch out for hugs!). If you’re not swilling down Widmer in the Rose Quarter (home of the Moda Center and the Memorial Coliseum) or grabbing curly fries at Providence Park, then you’re sticking it out at one of our many, many restaurants or bars. Since both venues are easily accessible by MAX Train and Trimet bus (and achievable, but expensive by car) it’s pretty easy to spend that food budget on something great.
Rule Number One: ‘There’s Always a Food Truck.’ Really. If you’re feeling the spirit of adventure, step out onto Pioneer Square and grab the largest burrito you’ll ever see in your life just off the Starbucks, but remember to only pay cash. And you’ll always be able to find fast food or a convenience store, but if you want high end and popular, you can’t beat Departure (http://departureportland.com/) in the Nines Hotel on Alder which serves fresh and delicious Asian fusion food with separate menus for vegans, veggies, and the food allergic. Just remember, ‘high end’ in Portland means we match our socks to our Birkenstocks and wear the nice fleece vest.
Rule Number Two: ‘Give It a Try.’ Just in town and haven’t got a ticket? Get out to 4-4-2 on SW Hawthorne, the place for all things Bosnian and soccer-related (where you can also get a burger, but why would you? You could try Bosnian food instead!). The TV’s always tuned to the beautiful game and you’ll always be able to get a Bloody Mary the size of your head.
Rule Number Three: ‘Know Where Thy Coffee Is.’ In the summer, baseball lurks just off highway 26 in Hillsboro, where the Hops are actually near one of the best coffee shops in town. Insomnia Café on Amberbrook Drive (across the parking lot from the Boom Fitness) serves some of the best coffee in the state, (the Aztec Mocha is my heavenly savior) as well as a variety of pastries (vegan and otherwise) and some lunch items. Starbucks is, of course, in every nook and cranny, but Portland also features more independent coffee shops. The delicious and only sometimes insufferably pretentious Stumptown Coffee Roasters has several shops downtown, including one attached to the Ace Hotel on Stark, that serve doughnuts, muffins, and gorgeous café au lait.
Rule Number Four: ‘It Matters Both When and How You Get There.’ Parking is expensive in Portland and driving can be very confusing for people who aren’t used to the number of one way streets, bicycles, or heaving masses lurching to walk free on our municipal streets. Unless you really think you’ll need it, I find it’s easier, cheaper, and less aggravating to get around the way our city council intended. Most everything you can want, and most assuredly some things you don’t, are really easy to find in Portland. Our dedicated, if sometimes confusing, public transportation can pretty much get the footsore traveler anywhere they need to be as long as you don’t try to get on at 5:00 pm (rush hour). Trimet (www.trimet.org) runs the MAX, the street car, and the bus lines and provides helpful maps to tell you which line to use. Grab a day pass if you’re leaving the downtown area, or stay in Fareless Square and ride for free!
Rule Number Five: ‘Always Be Able to Answer ‘What’d Ya Get Me?’ Say it with me, team: “Books Solve Everything” and Portland, OR is home to Powell’s Books (http://www.powells.com), the largest used bookstore this side of the Mississippi (and, via unconfirmed rumor, the Rio Grande). Located on Burnside, this bastion of all things written also has a sizeable collection of tchotchkes, knickknacks, gift cards, and weird knitted accoutrements, to satisfy the hungriest of present-loving souls! Grab the map from the information desk up front (Yes, There’s A Map. Yes, You Will Need It) and peruse to your heart’s content. And if books aren’t your thing? You’re on Burnside, a street with so many shops, restaurants, concert venues, and bars that you’ll never be caught without something to buy.
All right, let’s huddle up here. No one can guarantee all the events you plan will come off without a hitch, but if you’re heading out to Portland, OR you aren’t going to be stuck twiddling your thumbs waiting for the lights to change. You might, however, be wondering why in the hell you packed all the crap you didn’t need and nothing of what you could’ve used. But that’s next week’s post on The Equipment Manager!