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PDX Now

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My time in Portland was short but also wonderful.  I enjoyed so many great days out, foodie rendezvous’ and most importantly Oregon’s climate.  The people were cool and weird.  But also kind, welcoming and genuine.

Would I visit again?  Yes.  In a heartbeat.

If my articles have convinced you to visit Portland – check out http://www.travelportland.com/ for travel planning ideas.  Have fun and get lost in the woods!

Cacao: Drink Chocolate

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You may watch Portlandia and think ‘Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein sure have an affinity for that “Cacao!” Safe word’.  I was intrigued. Chocolate or ‘Cacao’ as a safe word – it makes sense.  I’ve had many a rendezvous with chocolate where I’ve eaten way too much in one sitting.  A safe word would have served me well.

In my hunt for cool and interesting chocolate businesses in Portland – I came upon a delectable little shop simply called Cacao near my hotel.  Perfect – I was on vacation, I needed a fix.

Cacao features a handpicked selection of chocolate from around the world, including the best premium solid chocolate bars from small producers, select chocolate from the best local chocolatiers and North American makers, and their very own house-made drinking and hot chocolates.

When you walk into the shop you will be greeted by a warm and sweet dwelling.  The aroma of chocolate and a simple set up will easily start a swoon and a wonder of what you can put into your belly to satiate the rumblings a brewing.

Cacao has book cases causally laden with the best in haute couture chocolates, boutique blends, demure packaging, plates of easy to pop into your purse chocolate fare and blocks of chocolate that would make an excellent date in bed with a book on a Saturday afternoon.  The luxury abounds.

Cacao is a specialty chocolate shop with a focus on North American craft chocolate makers and North West chocolatiers. Founded in 2006 by Jesse Manis and Aubrey Lindley, Cacao is a collection of the best chocolate in the world. Each item is carefully selected based on a range of different criteria—value is placed on areas of focus like small manufacturers, chocolate made in countries where cacao is grown, organic and fair market practices, transparency of operations, value pricing, and limited chains of manufacturing and distribution. Ultimately these gentlemen care most about flavor and quality and are always seeking out new and exciting flavors in cacao beans and chocolate.  They have stated that they never want to forget that chocolate is meant for the pleasure of eating.

I’m a fan of a chocolate hot drink.  Now that we are heading into winter, what else can be the ultimate in self soothing from the bristle of the cold?

I encourage you to indulge in Cacao’s chocolate bar where you can sample their lovely specialty chocolate drinks.

On offer are:

1) Cinnamon Infused:   A Venezuelan Dark Chocolate meets cinnamon.  It is a lighter fare, great for kids and if you are feeling like you need a tiny rush.

2) Rivoli:   A Classic Dark Chocolate, 72% Arabic from Ecuador.  It is grand, bold, epic and a luscious knock you to your knees mate.

3) Spicy:  Think ground paprika, cayenne pepper, ginger and coconut milk.  The Spicy drink is for when you need a spicy kick to wake you up, get ready to run a marathon or at best get hustling.  I could easily sip this drink with my dinner.

Manis and Lindley are painting a portrait for you to step into.  To indulge in some unique and delicious flavours of chocolate but to have a slower rendezvous with them.  Their small but beautifully lighted shop encourages a place to dwell, sip your Cacao Drinking Chocolate and reflect, be soothed, let an experience wash over you and still have some extra cash in hand to grab another drink and snack before heading out for the day or home to bed.

The Cacao drinking chocolates are affordable and can also be bought in a beautiful glass jar to take home with you simply labelled ‘Premium Drinking Chocolate’….’dark and rich’.  No sell necessary.  The product stands on its own.

The best love affair you can have at Cacao is sampling the marriage between local chocolate wizard Sebastian Cisneros ‘Craque’ from his sweet brand Cocanú and Portland’s famous ice cream shop, ‘Salt & Straw’.  The marriage of the Arbequina Olive Oil ice cream, Craque and Cacao’s Caffé Vita espresso will make you want to worship at the altar of Cacao.

The olive oil and Craque pairs perfectly with Cacao’s drinking chocolates or Caffé Vita espresso to make a decadent pour-over.  Adding Craque for added textures truly is an addictive treat in the form of candied cacao nibs. The satisfying crunch and perfect level of sweetness make for ideal snack or as a topping for ice cream, salads and roasted vegetables.

The warm, rich chocolate combining with the cool, fruity, lightly salted olive oil is transcendent.  It will transform you.

If you want to swoon and appreciate some of the best chocolate, chocolate drinks and desserts – please visit Cacao in Portland.  They are a game changer on the scene.  Their wares will satiate your chocolate appetite upon every visit.  They are also happy to pack up their sophisticated sweets for en route and home love affairs.  Just give them the safe word.

Cacao Locations

WEST END STORE

414 SW 13th Avenue

Portland, OR 97205

AT THE HEATHMAN

712 SW Salmon Street

Portland, OR 97205

https://cacaodrinkchocolate.com/

Portland Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum was a treat.  When you travel and have the time and access to see great art – there is a pressure to get it all in.  Instead of walking around aimlessly at the Portland Art Museum I thought I’d focus in on what interested me the most.

My favourites were the Forbidden Fruit from Chris Antemann at Meissen and the Native American Art installations.

Forbidden Fruit

Chris Antemann at Meissen

SEP 27, 2014 – FEB 8, 2015

In 2012, Oregon-based sculptor Chris Antemann was invited to participate in the Art Studio program of the renowned Meissen Porcelain Manufactory to collaborate with the Meissen master artisans on unique pieces and a series of limited editions of her sculptures, resulting in a grand installation that reinvents and invigorates the great porcelain figurative tradition. Using the Garden of Eden as her metaphor, the artist created a contemporary celebration of the 18th-century banqueting craze. Inspired by Meissen’s great historical model of Johann Joachim Kändler’s monumental Love Temple (1750), Antemann created her own 5-foot version. Stripping the original design back to its basic forms, she added her own figures, ornamentation, and flowers, as well as a special finial with three musicians to herald the guests to the banquet below. Employing her signature wit and formal references to classic Baroque Meissen figurines, Antemann has invented a new narrative on contemporary morality through her one-of-a-kind porcelain figures in a setting that evokes the decadence of Boucher and Watteau.

Antemann’s Love Temple is the centerpiece and heart of the installation. It was designed to house a host of semi-clothed revelers around a banquet of “forbidden fruit.” After sculpting the Love Temple and banquet table, Antemann expanded the vision of the installation to include a pleasure garden made up of eight separate pieces that surrounds the temple, creating an elaborate tableau in the great tradition of royal 18th-century sur la table.

Accompanying the lavish and overflowing banquet table is a massive 12-light porcelain chandelier and a collection of smaller sculptures to accompany the table along the gallery walls, evoking the tradition of palatial porcelain rooms. The small, intimate vignettes entertain with playful scenes of dalliance and seduction.

Review:

A very cheeky exhibit and perhaps art that we may cast off as cheap and cheesy.  But the beauty in these porcelain pieces is the attention to detail, sauciness, the manipulated control in creating such fine and cohesive work.  I was mesmerized and found myself lost in the Love Temple piece.  As I moved around the tableau I saw even more decadence and conversations between the characters unfolding.  The ‘forbidden fruit’ reminded me of sugar plums and added a further enticement to keep looking as a voyeur into the characters debauchery.

Native American Art

The Museum’s collection of Native American art is housed in the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Center for Native American Art. The collection, remarkable for both its depth and diversity, consists of more than 5,000 prehistoric and historic objects created by some 200 cultural groups from throughout North America. Included are outstanding works by Native American masters such as Allan Houser, Charles Edenshaw, and Maria Martinez, in addition to regional contemporary artists such as Lillian Pitt, Joe Feddersen, Pat Courtney Gold, Rick Bartow, and James Lavadour.

The Center is located on the second and third floors of the Hoffman Wing in the Museum’s Belluschi Building; each gallery is devoted to art from a specific cultural region. The second-floor galleries focus on the Museum’s world-renowned collection of Northwest Coast art as well as galleries dedicated to the Arctic, Plains, Woodlands, Southwest, and California regions. Also located on the second floor is the Phil and Sue Bogue Gallery, dedicated to the display of the Museum’s excellent collection of Pre-Columbian art from Meso and South America. Two additional galleries featuring work from our own region, western Oregon and the Columbia Plateau, are located on the third floor.

Review:

Being Canadian, I am always drawn to First Nation art.  I particular love looking at costuming, accessories and especially bead work.  The Portland Art Museum will satiate your fix.  From the ornate dress, beaded handbags and tapestries you will be moved by the emotion and history woven into each piece.  Awe-inspiring and also worthy of reflection into the history of Native American Art in the Northwest Coast.

If you have time check out the Modern Contemporary Art space.  I took swooning breaks between the works of Damien Hirst ‘5 Skulls’ and Andy Warhol’s ‘Family Album 312’.

The Portland Art Museum needs some of your time the next time you are in Portland.

Portland Art Museum

1219 SW Park Avenue

Portland, OR 97205

http://portlandartmuseum.org/

The Oregon Historical Society

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I was told by someone whilst travelling, ‘why are you going to visit The Oregon Historical Society’?  Hmm, I was confused.  Why not?  For a girl travelling from Canada wanting to learn more about the state of Oregon it would make a fantastic reference point in educating myself towards Oregon’s roots.  Isn’t that one of the most important pieces when travelling?

Sure enough, I arrived at The Oregon Historical Society and read that their mission is a simple one,

‘As the steward of Oregon’s history, the Oregon Historical Society educates, informs, and engages the public through collecting, preserving, and interpreting the past . . . in other words, Oregon history matters.’

What struck me whilst visiting in Portland is that people are kind, live simply, earnestly and with sheer enthusiasm.  So refreshing!  These are beautiful qualities to behold and seen as evidenced at The Oregon Historical Society through their varied and interesting historical exhibits.

I encourage you to check out the following:

Place: Framing the Oregon Landscape

November 8, 2014 – May 17, 2015

Place: Framing the Oregon Landscape brings together an impressive collection of artists currently working to capture and interpret the landscape of Oregon through the medium of photography. The dramatic beauty of this region’s landscapes has inspired generations of artists, and these contemporary photographers carry forward the innately human aspiration to depict the relationship between their own existence and nature’s elegance. This exhibition will feature the stirring works of ten contemporary landscape photographers and draw from the Oregon Historical Society’s extensive collections to foster a contextual examination of the land, its people, and the artists’ negotiation of that duality.

Review:

The ‘Place: Framing the Oregon Landscape’ exhibit is stunning.  Interactive, emotional and an eclectic collection of work.  As a visitor you are instantly aligned with the artists as they demonstrate their connection to the Oregon landscape and what drew them to it.  What their reactions to their new ‘place’ is and what creative stimulation it evokes.  As a visitor, I found myself taking photographs in transit, of nature and the mountains in Portland.  I immediately felt a kinship to this exhibit.  It stirred something deep within me.  What brought me to Portland?  What am I taking home with me?  Don’t forget to pick up some free postcards at the ‘Place: Framing the Oregon Landscape’ exhibit to pop onto your fridge or your desk at work.  They are beautiful pieces of art to reflect upon at a later date.

Plastics Unwrapped

October 14, 2014 – January 1, 2015

Only 50 years ago, we hardly used plastics. How did they go from being rare to being everywhere? Plastics Unwrapped, explores how material culture was changed―rapidly and perhaps permanently―by plastics. Learn what life was like before plastics, how they are made, why they are so convenient to use, and what happens after we throw them away. Explore how this? Material of the future? Has impacted our daily lives, as well as the long-term impacts that plastics have on our environment. Plastics Unwrapped is a traveling exhibit organized by the Burke Museum, University of Washington, and the national tour is sponsored by Boeing and the University of Washington.

Review:

An interesting exhibit that offers some tremendous food for thought.  Portland has the hand on the pulse of ‘green living’ and recycling.  An informative and easy to digest exhibit that is worth perusing for your relationship with being kind to the planet we share.

Working on the River: A History of Dredging

May 1 – December 14, 2014

Come navigate a part of Portland’s history in the original exhibit Working on the River: A History of Dredging. Through this exhibition, discover the men, women, and machines that have shaped our region’s geography, trade routes, economic vitality, and history. In commemoration of the Port of Portland vessel, Dredge Oregon, and its recent upgrades, this exhibit highlights the role of dredges like the Oregon in maintaining the Willamette and Columbia River navigation channels for maritime trade.

Review:

Dredging is fascinating.  At first you may think, I’ll skip this exhibit – I encourage you not to and immerse yourself into some education as to why dredging was and is instrumental to life in Portland.  This is the stuff you want to go home and talk your mates about when they ask, ‘Why Portland?’.

Oregon: 150 Years of Statehood; 150 Million Years in the Making

The windows in this exhibit illustrate how geology crafted Oregon’s landscape and natural resources and continues to shape the land and lives of its citizens.

Oregon My Oregon

Winner of a 2005 MUSE Award, Oregon My Oregon features the most important pieces from the Society’s collection of artifacts.

Oregon Voices: Change and Challenge in Modern Oregon History

With Oregon Voices, a new permanent exhibit, the Oregon History Museum combines the technology of today with stories from the past. This interactive exhibit gives visitors a chance to explore the issues and events that shaped Oregon from 1950 forward.

Clink! A Mini-Taste of Oregon Wine

Due to the popularity of Clink! A Taste of Oregon Wine, the exhibit’s “Tasting Room” (Hayes Gallery) has been held over and a portion of the exhibit highlighting the history of the Oregon wine industry is currently on display in the space. Learn about the early days of Oregon wine through colorful graphics with photos and text, view vintage bottles from the OHS collection, or relax in comfy chairs while paging through photo books featuring some of Oregon’s most celebrated vineyards.

Review:

These four exhibits are wonderful examples of what makes up the fabric of Oregon and why it is one of the most interesting, game changing and progressive states.  Take your time with them and let the wonder sink in.  It may offer you some inspiration to input into your own life.

The Oregon Historical Society is a must see on your next trip to Portland.  For a quiet humble neighbour sitting next door to the Portland Art Museum you will need an hour or two to walk the length of the exhibits.  Leave some time for ‘Place: Framing the Oregon’.  Visitors and locals alike have a lot to gain from hearing the whispers of those through their photographs about why Oregon is important.  You may find your own heart echoing similar beats.

Lastly, if you look closely enough you will see where Portlandia filmed the infamous ‘Sacagawea’ skit.  If that doesn’t get you in the door to visit The Oregon Historical Society; you are missing out.

The Oregon Historical Society

1200 SW Park Avenue

Portland, OR 97205

(503) 222-1741

http://www.ohs.org/index.cfm

Tasty n Alder

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I heard great things about John Gorham’s ‘Tasty n Alder’ restaurant when I was researching my Portland, Oregon trip.  I was eager to try it out as it was just down the road from my hotel, the Mark Spencer.

Tasty n Alder sits pretty besides it sister restaurants, Toro Bravo and Tasty n Sons.  I picked Tasty n Alder mainly for its relaxed vibe and foodie options.  Plus being a girl travelling on my own, I thought it would be a great fit to have a nice meal and still have time to do something after.  Three hours later…

My dinner reservation was for 7 p.m. and I was greeted with a full restaurant on a Thursday night.  People were eating, having drinks and having a laugh.  Perfect, I could slide into a side booth and have a quiet meal.  But I ended up being sat beside a sweet couple who had driven over an hour and half to have a meal at Tasty n Alder.  They stated their dog was waiting for them in the car.  It was the sweetest thing.  I was eager to hear more – why ‘Tasty n Alder’?

They proceeded to tell me ‘what was good’ on the menu and why they kept coming back to Tasty n Alder.  For them it was all about the tasty food, reasonable prices and a feeling like their service was always appreciated.  Wow!  For a couple that said, ‘they don’t eat out’ a lot.  They had firm ideas on what they liked and didn’t like on the menu.  That said, there wasn’t much they didn’t like on the menu.

With their suggestions in hand, I placed my order.

Starter:

Grilled Spanish Octopus

The Grilled Spanish Octopus was beautifully prepared.  It was cooked just enough that upon biting into it, it was tender to the palate.  No rubbery texture.  Just supreme.  I noticed I kept staring at it like it was a painting in a gallery on my plate.  I appreciated the minimal dressing and sautéed garlic. The garlic brought out the flavours of the octopus and took it to another level.  Simple.  Gorgeous.  I could have had 7 plates of the Grilled Spanish Octopus and called it a night.

Saigon Brussels Sprouts

I’m not a huge fan of Saigon Brussels Sprouts but these prepared by the Tasty n Alder crew were robust and had a kick to them.  In terms of portion size – the plate was full.  It could have been easily shared between three people.  Even after I had finished my Grilled Spanish Octopus  and was heading onto my main, I was being distracted by the juiciness of the brussel sprouts.  It just kept on giving and giving.

Drinks:

Rawhide-  bourbon, salted bonal honey, genepy, lemon, boker’s bitters

The Rawhide will take you out.  I’m not kidding.  It is a powerful liquid potion guaranteed to make you smile.  I adored the bourbon and mix of the salted bonal honey and lemon.  It punctuated the flavour of the drink.  Tasty n Alder are employing the best Mixologists behind that bar of theirs.  This drink was the recommendation of my waitress who it seemed everything she gently suggested was bang on.  It always helps to pick the brain of good wait staff.  Thanks Kristen and Manager Katie!  They know what will make for a fine dining experience time and time again.

Improved Whiskey Cocktail- rye, maraschino, bokers bitters, herbsaint, demarrera

I sipped the Improved Whiskey Cocktail during the course of my entrée.  It was also very tasty and married well with my meal.  I liked the mix of the sweet and sour.  It made for a nice end note as I transitioned between my starter and entrée.  But again, it will take you out.

Entrée:

Seared Scallops with mint pesto

I encourage you to order the Seared Scallops with mint pesto the next time you are at Tasty n Alder.  The scallops were larger than a Silver Dollar coin.  Plump.  Full of intent.  They require time to dwell upon and pay homage to.  They were thick and juicy.  Cutting it gently into quarters was only kind.  I enjoyed the mint pesto sauce as well.  It was fresh and aromatic.  I felt like I could have been eating this dish sat on the side of a cove because it was so alive.  A true gem.

Dessert:

Steakhouse Brownie with vanilla ice cream & cajeta artisan goat caramel

I was craving a decadent dessert and opted for the Steakhouse Brownie with vanilla ice cream & cajeta artisan goat caramel.  The brownie was royal and Beyonce epic.  It was made from scratch and had the layers of flakiness to prove it.  It was pure chocolaty joy.  The vanilla ice cream & cajeta artisan goat caramel pulled the warm, cool and sweet flavours into a dance.  Even though I had already eaten an appetizer and main, this dessert was the perfect end.  I could have easily taken the Steakhouse Brownie with vanilla ice cream & cajeta artisan goat caramel home with me and gotten into bed with it with a book and a big spoon.  It was all romance.

In terms of pricing at Tasty n Alder plates will cost you the following:  Smaller plates, $5-$15; meats, $12-$30; larger plates, $14-$19; desserts, $6-$7.  Indeed very affordable.  For the food quality and quantity you are leaving with not only your belly full but your senses opened to possibly trying out more dishes the next time you are at Tasty n Alder and whispering your good times to friends and family so they can join you next week.

If you find yourself travelling and want to feel like you are in a cool, family friendly with a dash of hipster resto – Tasty n Alder is for you.  The wait staff was great and left a lot of room for recommendations without the hustle to sell.  I appreciated their authenticity and genuine approach.  I also appreciated that the staff gently checked in on my progress without pushing me out the door.  Like a true family establishment they encouraged me to stay, keep enjoying and just take my time.

Lastly, the space at Tasty n Alder was warm and friendly which was amplified by their young, hip and trendy staff.  The re-claimed wood type table and chairs created a modern space but a space you can get stuck into with fuss.  The restaurant was lighted perfectly and the music albeit loud was not club pumping.  Tasty n Alder is a place for everyone.  Give them your business – you won’t regret it.

For the price, ambiance, service and food quality, Tasty n Alder gets a strong 5/5.

Tasty n Alder

580 S.W. 12th Ave.; 503-621-9251; http://www.tastyntasty.com

http://tastyntasty.com/alder/index.html

Mother’s Bistro & Bar

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“At Mother’s, we take traditional homemade favorites and refine them with classical cooking techniques, so they’re like mom’s cooking, only a bit better. Slow-cooked foods that take hours to prepare—hand-made dumplings, stews, roasts and braised dishes.

We make everything from scratch, using the best possible ingredients Pacific Northwest wild salmon, Carlton Farms pork, Painted Hills beef and the finest European-style butter in everything we cook and bake.

The best meals of a country aren’t in its restaurants. They’re found in its homes, made with love by mothers cooking for their families. That’s why each month we feature a Mother of the Month (or “M.O.M.”), and bring you some of her special dishes prepared in our kitchen.”

Owner, Chef Lisa Schroeder

Mother’s Bistro & Bar is located in the heart of downtown Portland, easily accessible from all directions with lots of parking nearby. Separate dining areas provide warm and cozy atmospheres each equally inviting, with gilded mirrors and crystal chandeliers glowing with warm light.

The bright and sunny dining room in shades of yellow and green with gold accents make for a warm and fuzzy dining experience for all, from families with young children (there’s even a play area!) to couples sharing a night on the town.

The Velvet Lounge, our sultry bar, is the “dark side” of Mother’s, with gold and black flocked wallpaper and comfy banquettes in addition to even more crystal chandeliers and mirrors, making it a perfect spot for a happy hour bite, pre- or post-theatre cocktail or late-night dining.

Review:

When I arrived to Mother’s Bistro & Bar on a Friday night around 8 p.m. the restaurant was full.  It was brimming with families, young couples, couples on a double date, older folks on holiday and a smattering of regulars. Right away I felt like I was in a family establishment.  People were on their best behaviour and were wearing their Sunday best.

This is a nice feeling when travelling alone.  Being able to fit in and slide into a nice table without being noticed but noticing everything safely around you.

When I was seated and looked around the Mother’s Bistro & Bar’s space I felt like I was sat in a brasserie in France.  The soft furnishings echoed of buttermallow, gold, warm wood and chandeliers with diamond like earrings.  It was luxe but also very comfortable.  Comfortable enough for me to be alone and also to be sat with a family of four from Eugene visiting for the weekend.

The waiter was pleasant and gave me the day’s specials.  Everything looked great and something indeed my mom could make for me from scratch on a Sunday if I was still living at home.  I’m sure a lot of people can attest to when they are travelling, there is a tiny ache of home when really all you want to do is run away from it and have an adventure.  Food is a safe choice to satiate that ache.

I ordered the familial, Chicken & Dumplings (slow-stewed chicken (mostly white meat) with herbed dumplings) and the Carlton Farms Pulled Pork (slow-cooked natural pork topped with country gravy, (or gluten-free house-made barbecue sauce served with smashed potatoes & seasonal vegetables).

As I waited for my meal I made myself comfortable and listened in to a conversation from an older couple beside me.  The gentleman was saying to his wife that perhaps they needed to walk off their meal.  Her reply was simply, ‘No, I’m good.  I just want to sit with it.’

It’s true.  Isn’t ok, to just sit with the meal?  I want to love it and I want it to love me.  I’m on holiday, I thought,  I’m going to sit with it too and sleep well.

When both entrees arrived they were perfect.  They were just the right mix of hearty, protein and warmth that filled my belly but also gave me that extra love that only food can do for you when you are in a city on your own in November.  Satisfaction.

I thought the service was very good.  The wait staff was attentive, authentic and gave a lot of space.  It didn’t feel like an oversell to purchase food and drink.  Instead it felt like you were at home and a member of your family were politely asking if they could get you a plate from the stove.  It was a nice feeling to sit back, have a meal, people watch and contemplate the day’s activities and what else I had planned in the days ahead.

Mother’s Bistro & Bar should be on your travel itinerary when you visit Portland.  It is a fine establishment, with earnest customer service, offering time to reflect on your travels but also feel part of a new city family.  Lastly and most importantly, the food is definitely worthy of writing home about.

Mother’s Bistro & Bar

212 SW Stark St.

corner of Second Ave.

Portland, OR 97204

http://www.mothersbistro.com/

Portland Aerial Tram

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Keeping with all the wild and wonderful things Portland has to offer, I made sure checking out the Portland Aerial Tram was on my bucket list.

It was well worth the jaunt and to be exposed to something indeed so Portland – for the mere $4 and change; it was a lot of fun.

The friendly tram conductor was eager to usher us in to the tram upon arrival.  I felt like I was going to Oz when I got into the tram.  This was going to be an experience.

There was no a lot of chit-chat between tram conductor, visitors and various hospital staff.  The hospital staff didn’t seem at all over it travelling up the hill to the Oregon Health & Science University.  Which was neat.  It gave us visitor’s permission to geek out appropriately.

The views were indeed spectacular.  As the tram climbed up the hill at a smooth pace, we could take in the beautiful Fall tree canopy with its gold, brows, red and yellow hues.  The houses looked like something out of Lilliput Lane from our view and the mist always present hung like mini clouds in nooks and crannies down below.

Here are some quick facts about the Portland Aerial Tram:

How high, how far, how fast?

The Tram cabins travel 3,300 linear feet from South Waterfront to Marquam Hill. Traveling at 22 miles per hour, the Tram cabins rise 500 feet during the four-minute trip. Each of the two cabins have a capacity of 79 people, including the operator. The Tram operates load-n-go. If you miss one, expect another in just a few minutes.

What else is in the area of the lower terminal?

The lower tram terminal is at the intersection of SW Moody & Gibbs–the most transportation-diverse intersection in the country. In addition to one of the nation’s only aerial commuter trams, you’ll see cars, buses, shuttles, a streetcar, a soaring pedestrian bridge, a shipyard, a cycle track, and the densest bike parking in America’s #1 biking city. Bike valet is offered free to the public at Portland Aerial Tram. It is sponsored by OHSU and operated by our partner Go By Bike.

South Waterfront is an emerging neighborhood with several dining options within walking distance of the lower terminal and more opening in 2014. Elizabeth Caruthers Park is one block south of the terminal and hosts a seasonal farmers market.

The Tram Tower is lit in a color schedule designed by the artist Anna Valentina Murch.

What can I expect at the upper terminal?

The upper deck has views of downtown Portland and the largest enclosed sky bridge in North America. As you exit the upper terminal, take a right to enter an outdoor patio with seating and views of the terminal, the surrounding region and, on a clear day, Mount Hood and Mount St Helens.

Summit Espresso is located a short distance away inside OHSU. Open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

The upper terminal links to the 4T Trail–a self-guided tour by train, trail, tram and trolley. Much of Marquam Hill is a natural protected area with several trails that make for a great forested hike.

Why a Tram?

As many as 20,000 people a day visit Oregon Health & Science University’s main campus on Marquam Hill. OHSU is  Portland’s largest employer, medical destination, and home of several medical schools. Marquam Hill is also home to a residential neighborhood, nature trails, and hospitals owned by Shriners and Veterans Affairs. However, from downtown Portland, Marquam Hill is accessible by just two 2-lane roads. To keep Marquam Hill accessible, an ambitious solution was needed. After reviewing a few different options, the City and stakeholders determined a tram was the best possible solution.

The Portland Aerial Tram is part of Portland’s public transportation system and operates in coordination with TriMet and Portland Streetcar.

Who designed the Tram and cabins?

The Tram was designed by Angelil/Graham/Pfenniger/Scholl, based in Zurich, Switzerland, and Los Angeles. The custom-designed cabins were made by Gangloff Cabins of Bern, Switzerland.

Who owns and operates the Tram?

City of Portland owns the Tram. OHSU provided $40 million of the $57 million construction cost of the Tram. The City’s share of construction costs ($8.5 million) will be collected over time from rising property values in the district. In comparison, 1 mile of an urban 4 lane freeway costs between $60 million to $300 million.

OHSU oversees operation of the Tram, while the City is responsible for maintenance of the stations and tower and provides regulatory oversight.

Tram personnel perform continuous rider counts to determine the mode split–which then determines the share of operating costs split between OHSU and the City. Public fare is set and collected by the City and OHSU rides are paid by OHSU.

What are the Tram names?

The Trams are named Jean and Walt. The north cabin is named after Jean Richardson–the first female engineering graduate from Oregon State University. The south cabin is named after Walt Reynolds–the first African American to graduate from OHSU (University of Oregon Medical School at the time). The real life Jean and Walt rode their namesake cabins for a naming ceremony in 2007.

The station names come from the local Tualitin language. The lower station is named Chamanchal (“on the river”) and the upper station is named Chemeffu (“on the mountain”).

How safe is the Tram?

The Tram is exceptionally safe. Concerns about the seismic history of our region have been addressed in the Tram’s design. It meets the new, more rigorous Swiss standards for aerial tramways and, thus, exceeds U.S. seismic standards. The Tram is equipped with redundant (backup) drivers and generators in the event of power outages, and the entire system is under constant computer monitoring.

Will weather affect the Tram?

There will be times when high winds or ice may affect Tram operations. However, this type of Tram has proved itself very capable and trustworthy in the extreme winter conditions of the Swiss Alps. Tram staff constantly monitor weather conditions and will adjust operations as needed.

The Tram is the recommended route to and from Marquam Hill in the event of a snow storm or icy roads.

Will the Tram cabins ever get delayed in mid-route?

Tram operators know from experience that Tram cabins will occasionally be stopped in mid-trip for a few seconds or – in rare instances – for several minutes while Tram operators make routine adjustments. If there is a delay, your Tram operator will explain the reason and give updated information on how long the delay will last.

Next time you are in Portland, be sure to check out the Portland Aerial Tram.  It will give you a chuckle but at the same time appreciate how progressive Portland is when it comes to transportation in the city.

Doppelmayr USA, Inc.

Portland Aerial Tram

0698 SW Gibbs St.

Portland, OR 97239

http://www.doppelmayrusa.com

http://www.gobytram.com/

WOODBURN PREMIUM OUTLETS®: Woodburn, Oregon

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Did you know that there is no sales tax in Oregon State?  Yes, ladies and gents.  It’s time to start curating a trip to Oregon State where there isn’t sales tax so you can start saving even more of your hard-earned shopping cash.

Since the American Dollar has been horrendous to buy,  I wanted to keep an eye on my spending.  I checked out the shopping in downtown Portland; although there were some awesome things to buy – I wanted to stretch my dollar as far as I could.

After doing some research I found that Woodburn Premium Outlets® in Woodburn, Oregon would be able to help me out with my goal.  No sales tax coupled with 60% – 70% off mark downs was delectable for my pocketbook.

When I arrived to the open air beautiful sprawling layout that is Woodburn Premium Outlets® I knew I made the right decision.  The space was easy to navigate, it held shops I wanted to shop in, there were no long queues of people waiting to make purchases and there were deals to be had.

Think of these 110 Outlet Stores and how they could help you out with your Black Friday Shopping:

Adidas, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Cole Haan, Eddie Bauer, Fossil, Gap, J.Crew, Max Studio, Nautica, Nike, The North Face, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, Tommy Hilfiger, Tumi, and more.

As always as you prep for your shopping day I encourage you to pick up a Woodburn Premium Outlets® VIP Coupon Book from the Management Office if you are an AAA member.  This Coupon Book will make your American dollar go even further.

For example, in my Woodburn Premium Outlets® VIP Coupon Book I had Levi’s Outlet Store savings of $15 off purchase of $100 or more and $30 off purchase of $200 or more.  I also found a Cole Haan $50 off purchase of $250 or more and a J.Crew 10% off purchase of $100 or more.  In total there are over 85 merchants participating in the Woodburn Premium Outlets® VIP Coupon Book – all ready to knock off more money off their wares.

The Woodburn Premium Outlets® VIP Coupon Book  has a nice mix of high-end merchants to middle of the road merchants.  Keeping in mind the goal of saving cash – when you shop during Black Friday keep your Woodburn Premium Outlets® VIP Coupon Book close at hand.  Coupled with the no sales tax – you could be saving close to 80% off your total purchases.  That would never happen in downtown Portland, Oregon.

In my store hunt I was able to pick up 3 pairs of Levi’s Jeans, a t-shirt and some accessories for all under $60 using my coupon booklet and saving on the no sales tax.  The total worth of the goods was $200 retail.  That was a huge win.

Last Fall, when I visited Woodburn Premium Outlets® sister, Woobury Common Premium Outlets® in Central Valley, New York; I discovered a new-found love affair with Under Armour.  With our Canadian winters getting even worse – Under Armour on sale is a great investment.

As I ploughed through the sales rack I found a fleece, a hoodie, some yoga stretch pants and some comfy work out tees.  Again using the Woodburn Premium Outlets® VIP Coupon Book and saving on the no sales tax I walked away with goods for a total of $90.  The total worth of the goods was $300 retail.  Another win.

I appreciated the fact that we were outside Portland and it was a tad quieter walking around Woodburn Premium Outlets®.  Similar to that of Woodburn’s sister Outlets:  Woodbury Common Premium Outlets® (in New York), Chicago Premium Outlets® and Boston Premium Outlets® – Woodburn Premium Outlets® was awesome to stroll in and out of shops.  The cool crisp air, fall colours and a no stress to shopping ambiance added to my shopping vigour.

The shops were endless and easy to navigate.  I would encourage you to pick up a map before you start your day and circle the shops you would like to check out.  This will give you an idea on time and also keep an eye on where you want to spend your money the most.

If you are looking for break points to leave your partner and the kids or need a respite from all that shopping there are some great food options on site.  From the cheerful cafes and sit down eateries – again Woodburn Premium Outlets®  has you covered.  Again, all affordably priced.

Lastly, I encourage you to get to Woodburn Premium Outlets® early in the day.  This way you can get a feel of the space and as I mentioned before start some map pre-planning.   It will save you time and you will capture all of your shopping needs.

Keep this Checklist handy before you leave for Woodburn Premium Outlets®:

–          Sign up for their VIP Shopper Club for added discounts or coupons https://www.premiumoutlets.com/vip/

–          Grab a bottle of water, wear some comfortable shoes and be ready to walk.

–          Get a good night sleep the night before so you are clear and ready to search out some awesome deals.

–          Try to keep your normally heavily purse down to the bare minimum.  The less you carry on your upper body frees up hands for purchases.

–          Make a list of things you want to buy for yourself, family and price points that fit your budget.

–          Grab a map and a coupon booklet from the Management Office before you start shopping.  They are located close to the Levi’s Store.

–          Lastly, keep your chin up and have fun.

What are Woodburn’s store hours over Black Friday and the Christmas holidays?

http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/hours.asp?id=110

How do I get to Woodburn?

http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/directions.asp?id=110

Keep it simple and have fun!  Tell me what you pick up!

WOODBURN PREMIUM OUTLETS®

1001 N Arney Road

Woodburn, OR 97071

(503) 981-1900

http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=110

Pittock Mansion

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The Pittock Mansion was home to Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock from 1914 to 1919. During the late 1800s and the early 1900s, their lives and work paralleled the growth of Portland from a small Northwest town site to a thriving city with a quarter million population. With its eclectic architectural design and richly decorated interior, including family artifacts, the Pittock Mansion stands today as a living memorial of this family’s contributions to the blossoming of Portland and its people.

English-born Henry Lewis Pittock journeyed on a wagon train from Pennsylvania to Oregon in 1853 where, at the young age of 19, and in his own words, “barefoot and penniless,” he began working for Thomas Jefferson Dryer’s Weekly Oregonian newspaper. In 1860, at the age of 26, he married 15-year-old Georgiana Martin Burton of Missouri. Six years prior, Georgiana had crossed the plains from Keokuk, Iowa to Oregon Territory with her parents. Georgiana’s father E.M. Burton was a flour mill owner and one of early Portland’s well known building contractors.

Together, Henry and Georgiana began a long life of work, community service, and devotion to family, which would last 58 years and celebrate six children and eighteen grandchildren.

A consummate businessman, Henry Pittock took ownership of the Weekly Oregonian in 1860, changing its format to the daily paper we read today. He went on to build an empire incorporating real estate, banking, railroads, steamboats, sheep ranching, silver mining, and the pulp and paper industry.

Georgiana dedicated herself to improving the lives of the community’s women and children. She helped found the Ladies Relief Society in 1867, whose Children’s Home provided care, food, and shelter for needy children. Georgiana also worked with the Woman’s Union, and played a key role in building the Martha Washington Home for single, working women.

The couple was known for their quiet reserve, helpful demeanor, and love for the outdoors. Georgiana cherished gardening, and kept a terraced flower garden at the mansion covered with every kind of flower imaginable. She frequently adorned her house with cut flowers, and is recognized for originating the tradition of Portland’s annual Rose Festival.

A vigorous outdoorsman, Henry rode horses in the Rose Festival parades, and was a member of the first party to climb Mt. Hood, one of the spectacular peaks visible from the mansion. On one of his climbing expeditions, someone suggested that the group sit down and rest, at which point Henry responded, “The man who sits down never reaches the top.”

Henry and Georgiana were at the pinnacle of their successful lives when they commissioned architect Edward Foulkes to design and build their new home overlooking Portland, the city they loved.

They began planning and designing their new home in 1909. The mansion was completed in 1914, replete with stunningly progressive features including a central vacuum system, intercoms, and indirect lighting. The house also creatively incorporated Turkish, English, and French designs. In keeping with their loyalty to their home state, the Pittocks hired Oregon craftsmen and artisans, and used Northwest materials to build the house. The final estate included the mansion, a three-car garage, a greenhouse, and the Italianate gate lodge servants’ residence, all situated on 46 acres of land almost 1,000 feet above downtown Portland.

At 80 and 68 respectively, Henry and Georgiana moved to their new home. The hard-working couple who had lived in the heart of Portland as it developed from a forest clearing to a bustling business center, now resided high in the hills, with a breathtaking vista of their beloved Portland. It was a warm and gracious house for both the adults and children of the family.

Georgiana died in 1918 at the age of 72, and Henry in 1919 at 84. The Pittock family remained in residence at the mansion until 1958, when Peter Gantenbein, a Pittock grandson who had been born in the house, put the estate on the market.

The threat of demolition at the hands of land developers, and the extensive damage caused by a storm in 1962, brought concerned citizens together to raise funds to preserve the site. Seeing this popular support, and agreeing that the house had tremendous value as a unique historic resource, the City of Portland purchased the estate in 1964 for $225,000. Fifteen months were spent restoring it. The mansion opened to the public in 1965, and has been a community landmark ever since.

A house of historical significance and visual magnificence, the Pittock Mansion today offers us a uniquely personal opportunity to peek into the past, and study our world as it was – from the viewpoint of one Portland family.

Review:

I was up for a little change one morning when I set out to check out the Pittock Mansion in Portland.  Who doesn’t like getting immersed in an old home which was tricked out decades before ‘Cribs’ became a popular show on MTV?

I was in.

I got off the Trimet bus and walked a long and windy uphill trek to the Pittock Mansion.  Hmmm, I’m in pretty decent shape but that trek up made me question myself.  There was some minor huffing and puffing happening.

The trees that looped up towards the property were glorious.  I could feel the elevation wearing my legs down but I was determined.  The sights, the smells and the views put a spell on me to continue on up the hill.

When I got up to the hill, even though it was a tad soupy (or misty) the views from Pittock Mansion to downtown Portland below were indeed spectacular.  I waved to Mount Hood and the pretty trees that embraced Portland below.  That in itself was worth the hike up to Pittock Mansion.

The rooms at Pittock Mansion were hardly your grandma’s front room.  Instead they were filled with lovingly maintained hard and soft furnishings.  Brimming with stories of mischief at the hands of the Pittock children.

You could spend hours in the space just looking up at the ceilings and the craftsmanship of the furniture.

My favourite room in the house was the kitchen.  From the ornately tiled floors, to the fantastic vintage (before it was cool to call it vintage) stove, beautifully displayed kitchen utensils, a pantry closet that if you looked close enough could see cooks clamoring over each other to pull ingredients for the day’s meal together.

It was such a pleasure to walk the grounds and to indeed hear about how Portland’s first families lived.  I wonder what the Pittocks would think of the downtown Portland folk and their ‘granola’, eat local and enviro living?

I encourage you to check out Pittock Mansion for your snapshot into Portland’s past.

Pittock Mansion

3229 NW Pittock Drive, Portland, OR 97210

http://pittockmansion.org/

Bagdad Theater and Pub

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Cast your imagination back to the Bagdad’s original opening day, in 1927….  Outside the new “Oasis for Entertainment,” hundreds crowded onto Hawthorne Boulevard, which was roped off for the big event. A street dance jumped to a live band as searchlights sliced through the night sky. Portland Mayor George Baker gave a rousing speech heralding the building’s importance to the community. And an orchestra performance, male quartet, Maryln Mills and her famous horse Beverly, a jazz band, a stuffed prop camel and a screening of Laura LaPlante’s Her Big Night (1926) dazzled all who attended. It was truly a glamorous night of nights on Hawthorne Boulevard.

For several generations, “Meet me at the Bagdad!” was the slogan for area residents looking for a convenient escape or to catch a glimpse of stardom. Since acquiring the Bagdad in 1991, the McMenamins aim has been to continue that long tradition as a community gathering spot.

Few expenses were spared to create the eastside Portland movie palace. Capitalized in part by the deep pockets of its parent company, Universal Pictures, the Bagdad was called “a triumph of artistry and craftsmanship.” In 1927, it stood as the city’s largest theater outside the downtown area. Beyond its immense size, guests marveled at the theater’s gurgling fountain and grand colonnade in its foyer, along with its faux-Middle-Eastern decor, right down to the Arabian-styled uniforms worn by the usherettes. Even the conductor selected to lead the Bagdad’s house orchestra was a musician of great prominence, having studied under Tchaikovsky.

At the time of the Bagdad’s opening, Americans’ fixation with movies and Hollywood was already well established. Demonstrating the local craving for celluloid heroes, a cider mill and church were sacrificed in order for the ornate Bagdad to be built on the site. A surge of excitement was generated worldwide in the months following the Bagdad’s opening by the premiere of the first “talkies.” Prior to 1927, theatergoers had enjoyed only silent films, accompanied by an organist or, in the more posh movie palaces like the Bagdad, a live orchestras. And, of course, vaudeville acts were very popular.

So during the Bagdad’s first years, silent movies and vaudeville reigned supreme. In fact, vaudeville remained a key part of the theater programming through the 1940s. Sammy Davis, Jr., performing with the Will Mastin Trio, was one of the many acts to grace its expansive stage.

The Bagdad has also been the scene of some notable movie premiere galas, including Star Trek III, 1776 and A Star is Born. In 1975, actors Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher along with producer Michael Douglas appeared at the Bagdad for the Oregon premiere of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. About fifteen years later, soon after McMenamins took stewardship, the premiere of My Own Private Idaho was screened here. These historic events and many others were depicted by McMenamins artists in a huge, colorful mural that hangs today at our Back Stage Bar, just around the corner.

By the mid-1980s, the local and national media was issuing dire predictions about the health of all single-screen movie theaters. McMenamins, though, jumped at the opportunity to take over the Bagdad, bolstered by its success with its first theater-pub, The Mission in Northwest Portland, which opened in 1987.

Over the course of McMenamins’ stewardship, the Bagdad hosted second-run films as well as special events. Through the Powell’s Books Author Series, welcomed a parade of prominent writers and poets in the main auditorium. Music, too, became a popular addition as the occasional performance graced the main stage. Local and independent film screenings, stand-up comedians and trivia nights further added to the mix, while the beautiful space was often rented out for late-night private events and parties.

As part of the conversion to a first-run-films theater, major upgrades and overall improvements to this grande ol’ dame include a 50% larger screen, 20,000-watt Surround Sound, K Prime digital projector and comfy new rocker seating. This state-of-the-art technical experience offers the latest in accessibility with closed captioning and hearing-impaired options.

The concession menu has also undergone an upgrade, with an expanded tap selection and theater classics like fresh pizza slices, popcorn and candy. Additional menu items will be delivered to the balcony seats, thus improving the flow of foot traffic into the viewing area.

The Bagdad’s much ballyhooed 1927 opening changed the face of the neighborhood and brought the allure of Hollywood to Southeast Portland. Through the years, this landmark property’s role grew as a favorite destination for folks from all over the region. We hope you continue to enjoy the historic, elegant Bagdad Theater as the people of Portland have for nearly ninety years (and counting).

This marvelous relic of Hollywood’s Golden Age is a movie palace full of wonder and surprises. For nearly four generations now, the Bagdad’s Mediterranean/neon persona and daily films have made it an icon of Portland’s vibrant Hawthorne District. The interior is an attraction in and of itself, with barreled arches, ornate wrought-iron fixtures, brilliant mosaics and painted Mediterranean designs and characters.

Kick back in the theater for enjoy a slice of pizza and a handcrafted ale during the show, or come early and enjoy dinner in the casual pub that fronts the theater – but beware,  outdoor tables in the summertime may be hard to come by! It’s some of the best people-watching seats in the whole city.

Review:

As part of my Portland adventures I knew I had to check out the World Famous Bagdad Theater and Pub on Hawthorne.  How could I not?  Just for the exterior alone – this theater was sure to whisper me stories in the dark.   If I listened close enough it would tell me the secret as to why it was still standing all these years.

It did.  The secret was in its unique ambiance, awesome customer service and cheeky stance in a time where the world outside is far grimmer than decades past when it first opened.

I settled in to watch ‘Interstellar’ whilst I was in town checking out the Bagdad Theater and Pub.  I made my way up to the balcony which I was told by one of the ushers is the best place to see the immense screening.  She was right.

I was sat comfortably right in the centre of the first aisle by the balcony.  The seats were comfortable and you were actually able to lounge without zapping the person behind you.  I popped my phone on the table ledge in front of me and instantly felt like a VIP.

I was sat beside a really sweet couple who were eager to fill me in on the history of the Bagdad and also the furnishings of the space.  We both marvelled at the gorgeous antique chandeliers which I was told takes over 4 hours to clean and outfit with new bulbs once a year.

I loved the Mediterranean meets almost Middle Eastern feel of the space.  It felt appropriate and vintage without the shabbiness.

‘Interstellar’ was over three hours long so it was neat to see what people around me were eating without feeling distracted.  There were people indeed eating pizza and other pub fare.  The fare was ordered and then brought to the patrons at their respective seats once numbers were placed at their tables during the film.  It all felt very civilized and made me wonder why we don’t have something similar back home?  By the way, there are two menus:  One for Counter Fare and the other for the Balcony.

It was great to see that the drinks, cocktails and candy at the traditional concession stand were affordable and diverse.  You may think you don’t want anything to nibble or sip on but as soon as you see that concession stand those thoughts will get tossed out the window super fast.  Brilliant marketing!

Even though we were all sitting in a grand space it didn’t feel cramped nor did it feel like people were going to get into your business once the film started.  Everyone was in for a good time and indeed a lot of people watching was in full effect.  Portland has such interesting characters.  There were young people, middle aged folks and even some seniors.  Clearly, Bagdad veterans.  No nonsense.  All business in the name of a good cinema time.

Did I enjoy watching ‘Interstellar’ at the Bagdad Theater?  I did!  It was tremendous and for the price it was a neat experience as a visitor to Portland.  We can all boast about how great our Theaters are in our hometown.  But I much rather brag about how I went to the Bagdad Theater and Pub in Portland whilst travelling and took in classic film experience that only people in Portland know to do with flair, cheekiness and a good time with a pint in hand.

Bagdad Theater and Pub

3702 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.

Portland, OR 97214

Pub: (503) 467-7521

Movie Line: (503) 249-7474 x1

bagdad@mcmenamins.com

http://www.mcmenamins.com/219-bagdad-theater-pub-home