Hello wonderful readers! As I write this I’m spending my last full day on a vacation that I alternately don’t want to end, and also wish was over already (If you’ve been away for two weeks with your family, I think you know what I mean).
I write this from a Residence Inn-Marriott lobby in Seattle, as we’re finishing up our vacation in the place that worships both Frasier Crane and Kurt Cobain in equal measure.
Felt the itch to get a bunch of thoughts off my chest after being in Seattle and Portland for the past seven days; so glad we got to make this trip and sad my almost-2 year old won’t remember any of it.
After a week in the two cities, I can certainly see why everyone’s moving here. And I’ve seen enough clouds to last a year.
Some ramblings from my brain, which has to weigh heavier after a fortnight’s worth of wonderful eating…
— I loved both of these cities, and each are very distinct, but I have to say, I loved Portland a little better. The vibe in Portland was different from any other city I’ve been in. The people were incredibly friendly, in an offbeat/weird sort of way. The restaurants were great, the Children’s Museum was the best I’ve ever seen anywhere, and I had maybe the best breakfast dish of my life at the Waffle Window, a famous local eatery where I ate a blueberry cheesecake waffle that I’m still thinking about a week later. We had some Voodoo Donuts, dined at the Portland City Grill on the 30th floor of a business tower for our anniversary and saw the city at night, and had a great hotel experience.
In short: Portland rocks.
–A huge highlight for me in Portland was Powell’s Books, a nirvana for writers like me. The legendary Portland bookstore with more than a million books was two blocks from our hotel and I spent a combined three hours there over two days, and easily could’ve doubled that. I think I showed great restraint only buying four books. I said to the guy that he must hear this a lot, but that I had to leave then before I bought any more books. He said, “Yep, all the time.”
— They take recycling VERY seriously up here in the Pacific Northwest, and the people are pretty damn cheerful. Not surprisingly, the local babysitter we hired to watch our little guy one night in Portland was awesome and oh yeah, she’d been an extra on “Portlandia.”
— My son was amazing the entire trip; truly, he has completely spoiled us. Ate new foods, slept great, rarely kvetched as we schlepped him around, and was so friendly to everyone (while changing him in a men’s room in Seattle he said “Hi!” and “Bye!” to every single person who came in for like three minutes). He yelled “18!” when we entered any elevator, since that’s the floor we live on at home, and he could’ve spent a week at the Children’s Museum in Portland (seriously, if you have kids and ever go to Portland, you must go there.)
— Seattle was wonderful as well; really great seafood and very cool vibe, but definitely felt more like a big city. Have to say, the Space Needle a little disappointing (that was Nate’s one cranky day) and the EMP Museum, the huge music experience center that Paul Allen created, was only so-so.
But the Ferris Wheel was super-cool (we saw a guy propose to his girlfriend at a few hundred feet in the next wheel over, which was entertaining), Pike Place Market showed us flying fish and great eats, and Chihuly Glass Museum was fantastic.
— The little convenience details of a hotel are so important; here in the rooms in Seattle they have the power outlets built in to the bedside table lamps, so you can just plug in your phone and iPad without having to fumble around for the outlet behind the bed or somewhere. To me, that’s huge.
–I will say this about Seattle: I’ve visited a ton of American cities, and I’ve never seen more people wearing local team gear than here. I mean, everyone was wearing Mariners or Seahawks jerseys, hats, or T-shirts. It was amazing. This city is sports-mad, and it’s a damn shame their NBA team was stolen.
— Speaking of which, it was fascinating being here while the Oklahoma City Thunder-Golden State Warriors series is going on; the Thunder, of course, were the Seattle SuperSonics before owner Clay Bennett moved them to Oklahoma. People here HATE the Thunder, with a passion. Every local I talked to was rooting for Golden State to win, so they were pretty happy Saturday night.
There really ought to be an NBA team here.
— Finally, I love the 20-minute mini-relationships you have with people on vacation. You’re standing in line, or on a ferry or a monorail or a streetcar, and you talk to them, learn their whole story, tell them your story, then the line ends and you get in somewhere and you never see them again. But for those 20 minutes, they kept you entertained. So much fun learning about new people.