Portland + Hood River in 72 Hours - Part 1
In the travel section of the New York Times, they do a weekly shout-out on cool places to visit and a corresponding timeline of things to do, see, and eat in [said town]. It’s called 36 hours in ______. Here's my homage to that weekly gem:
Portland + Hood River in 72 Hours
While I was working on tour, my girlfriend Alicia and I were racking our brains thinking of alternative places to live and work outside New York City, my home for the past 13 years. As rising living expenses in NYC and neighboring boroughs have pushed friends in the business, young pros, and newlyweds out to suburban New Jersey or Connecticut for a better quality of life, we sat wondering why we needed to 'settle' at all. Suburban Jersey is nice (I love The Sopranos) but there's got to be something more to offer than having a backyard, a closer reach to IKEA, a real baby room, and a long-ass commute back to the city. Let's be honest, aside from what Hurricane Sandy taught us, this past winter was brutal, long and we saw an even larger exodus of people moving to warmer, sunnier pastures like L.A.
So we started brainstorming places to live. Tarrytown, New York, a river town 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan, right on the banks of the Hudson seemed like a good compromise. My friend Justin had lived right in town with his (now) wife Stephanie. They commuted daily into NYC and loved the serenity and close proximity to NYC. It has the best of both worlds where you don't necessarily have to leave the comforts of the city but you're not suffering from being pushed out.
But what if we scratch the east and go west! Hood River, OR came to mind. We both have friends and family there and there’s nearby Portland and well, we thought ‘why not?’ Hood River's position smack downstream of Portland on the Columbia River Gorge makes it one of the windiest places on record and because you can sport in snow, water, and earth all in one day, its become quite the outdoor thrill seeker’s jungle gym. But wait, there’s also steelhead trout fly-fishing so it really boils down to what kind of trouble you’re getting into.
And off we go......
Por Que No? | 10am
We head to north Portland to Mississippi Ave and we we're craving tacos (although when aren’t we). My brother Tim, an ex-Portland resident, over the phone and without hesitation say's 'Por Que No'. And why not at 10am? The food is on point. Chili salted cucumber chips with fresh guacamole are a good start followed by the pollo verde, al pastor and fish tacos [with bursts of pineapple], all on homemade corn tortillas. Wash it down with horchata boracha or margarita (try it with agua fresca). Sit street side and you'll be staring into an episode of Portlandia. Old liberals and hipsters on their bikes cruising down tree lined Mississippi Ave makes Bedford Ave look dirty from here.
Prepping for The Great Outdoors | 12pm
So you're about to hit the outdoors but you don't want to sell your baby for a brand new waterproof jacket, I’ve got the place for you. If you’re in Portland, save the money from REI and go to Next Adventure. This place is great. Here you'll find 2 floors of new and used anything-outdoor, recreation from tents to tennis rackets to high tech lanterns, really anything. The basement, at least to Alicia, smells like your danky dirty uncle so don't get your nose caught up too much in used ski equipment - Get what you need and go. The place is large enough that you'll spend hours in there and forget what you came in for. Tip: Check out Powell's Books around the corner for a good used field guide for the region you’re exploring before you set off on your adventure.
Irving Street Kitchen | 7pm
We head back to the Pearl District to meet Alicia's college mates, Allen and Jess. They all met at Miami of Ohio and spent time abroad in Luxembourg and have remained a tight group since. Allen, managing director and founder of Blue Stout, a digital product agency creating websites and apps for start ups, and Jess, a pastry chef at the Roman Candle Baking Co. live right smack in the center of the pearl. Not a bad spot to lay your head with so many restaurants and breweries tucked in and around old warehouses - turned lofts. We grab a blackstrap stout at Bridgeport Brewery and head to Irving Street Kitchen. After the first (and second) round of malbec, the charcuterie board, sopping pepper jam and layers of smoked country ham and duck pate onto fresh biscuits, we're already full. I realize we haven't even begun to crack to whip. Everything was on point.