Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sightseeing in Oregon

I've travelled a lot this season. And even though the destinations are usually really cool places the reason I am there is to race my bike. We usually try to visit some local restaurants and drive by the iconic establishments when possible but the focus is on racing . . . these are not vacations. The opportunity to become a tourist for a couple of days between the Portland USGPs and Nationals in Bend was awesome. Not packing up the van immediately after the race on Sunday and driving countless hours back home was refreshing. We took advantage. But not without first sticking to our training and spinning on the bikes in the hotel.
It was below 20 degrees outside so trainers in the hotel room it was. I introduced the girls to the dark comedy mockumentary Drop Dead Gorgeous and we cracked open the window. The hour went by surprisingly fast.

It was then time to go downtown and see some of the local "must see" places of Portland. Stop number one . . . Voo Doo Doughnut
Seen on the Food Network, loved by many we'd heard good things about this place and were anxious to view the much hyped selection of pastries. They make some very interesting creations there including this
Yes . . . that is bacon resting atop a maple iced doughnut. I didn't give it a try but it was certainly intriguing. Of course we needed a photo with our choices next to the big doughnut. I went with the Portland Creme - it was delicious.
We were a little dismayed by the level of homelessness in Portland - specifically homeless teenagers. The kids flocked to VooDoo. Perhaps because they knew lots of out of towners would be there and might be sympathetic to them. It was really sad and I was shocked to see so many people on the streets throughout the day.

We then got some coffee at the locally famous Stumptown Coffee. With a belly full of doughnut and caffeine we continued on to Powell's Bookstore.
The sun was out and it was a gorgeous day in Portland. It was abnormally cold though - the high for the day was 25 and the wind was howling. The supposedly typical Portland clouds and rain had cleared for our stay and we were happy to have the sun and blue skies.
Powell's is this huge bookstore downtown. It was a bit overwhelming and we gave ourselves just over an hour to get lost in the pages.
I haven't done that in awhile and it was really fun. Internet and Kindles be damned. There's nothing like wandering aimlessly through a bookstore or library and flipping through a book on a whim. I think we all could have stayed there the rest of the afternoon. They had a really cool bike rack in front of the store too. Notice the Superflash on the back of the bike - way to represent Planet Bike!
Linda, Daniel, and Dave left to go visit with some family and Kaitie and I decided we wanted to continue our downtown adventure. So we walked and browsed some stores. The calories from our doughnut had been walked off long ago and we decided we needed a snack. And there stood a cute little sushi shop. Kaitie has never had sushi and I decided now was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
It was delicious and Kaitie really liked it. We were now fueled for a few more hours of shopping downtown. We hit up a cool mall downtown and Kaitie convinced me to use a JCrew gift card that had been sitting idle in my wallet for nearly two years. We were on a roll and started going into fancy purse shops. I think Kaitie would have been the proud owner of a Kate Spade bag had the right color been in stock. We were having a blast though - everyone is so friendly in Portland and the city was beautiful as the sky darkened.
Kaitie and I after a fun day in Portland.
Back to the hotel to check out the free dinner and we were surprised to see a really good salad bar, pizza, and Monday Night Football . . . with the Packers! I'm more of a fair weather fan but something about just coming across a game in Oregon made me feel more connected to the Pack. So we watched some of the game and I even had a small glass of the free beer . . . which happened to be Fat Tire?! Geesh - how much better can it get?

The next day Kaitie, Dave G., and I decided to drive to the coast. Just over an hour away we figured it was too close to pass up and the weather was supposed to be decent. A little chilly but we wanted to get a ride in and the opportunity to ride on the Pacific Coast Highway sounded really fun. Off to Cannon Beach we went and this was the first sight we saw of the ocean.
The picture doesn't do it justice at all - these rocks were impressively large. I happen to be a huge fan of the movie The Goonies which took place on the Pacific coast and featured these rocks. I got to see the Goonie rocks in person . . . sweet.

After parking the car and changing into all of our layers we were on the bikes and riding the PCH.
The views were spectacular and the ride was a lot of fun. We got one long climb in too which was pretty cool.
We all got a kick out of this sign.
I don't really think there was a threat of a tsumani the day we were there but the waves were HUGE. You could hear them crashing and although we guessed they had to be 10-15 feet high. It was unreal. I was pretty cold by the end of the ride and we were all hungry so we hit up a cute little cafe afterward for some grub.
Bread bowl of clam chowder - yum.

Back to Portland and Kaitie and I headed over to the Zoo to check out their light display. The second Tuesday of the month they offer a special $2 admission and it just so happened today was the day. So we took advantage of the cheap entertainment, bundled up, and walked the Zoo.
It was pretty cool - they had a ton of lights up. We also got to see the elephants - including the 2 year old baby Sam.
Another great day hanging out in Oregon. It was time to get serious again and the trip to Bend on Wednesday loomed. Kaitie left with Daniel and Linda in the morning while I hung out and waited for Jordan and Jim to fly in. I ran a few errands and was constantly impressed by the mountains.
I did a little window shopping in Portland and got some lunch in a cute neighborhood. I was sort of puzzled by this sign but found it funny nonetheless.
Finally it was time to pick up the guys and head to Bend. The fun was just beginning.