Days 49 – 52 Portland & Seattle

Portland, OR – Seattle, WA

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On Day 49, I awoke under the Redwoods and was off to Portland for the first time to meet Ali and also conduct an overdue tire change. I had an appointment at Portland Motorcycles on Saturday so if I didn’t get there before closing, I wouldn’t be able to pull out of Portland until late Monday. Despite having a bit of time pressure, I drove the first half of Oregon along its beautiful coastline where I saw countless stretches of rocky beach virtually uninhabited.

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But by noontime, I had still about 200 miles to ride so I cut inland and headed for the I-5 Freeway to make up some time. I arrived at Portland Motorcycle with 30 minutes to spare. The great folks at the shop threw Bumblebee on the stand and got me on my way in no time.

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So this was my first visit to the city of Portland, and man, I was impressed! What a great town! Ali and I stayed at the Kimpton (another first for me) which is a terrific quirky hotel brand that resembles a W, but is notoriously pet friendly and throws a great happy hour in the lobby where they encourage guests to mingle and get to know each other. Great location and a great hotel.

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We woke in the morning and decided to head to the region’s well-known Wilmette Valley wine country where many of the country’s best Pinot Noirs are grown. We visited the tasting rooms of Barking Frog Vineyards, Adea Vineyards, and Winter’s Hill. But by far, Monk’s Gate Vineyard was our favorite. We approached their red barn which also served as the storage shed and tasting room. We quickly met with the owners and winemakers, Ron and Linda Moore, who let us taste their Pinot Noir and Pinot Rose and play with their bloodhound who kept sniffing our shoes (we didn’t step in anything). For all the reasons I criticized Napa Valley in an earlier post, this wine trip had a feeling of discovery and building a relationship between the wine you taste and the people and place it came from. Building those connections is the entire point of wine tasting.  And the best part is that each tasting was merely $5 (or free). Go to Portland. Drink great wine. Forget Napa.

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We ended the evening back in Seattle sampling the famous Voodoo Donuts because there’s really nothing like a 1,200 calorie, sugar-laded gutbomb to help you sleep easy in your bed. Pretty fun scene at 11pm, and the freaks were definitely getting their fix on.

The next day, we made the quick hop up to Seattle, and checked into the Sheraton downtown. Ali headed into her office, and I had meetings down by the fish market with a creative team interested in creating a graphic novel for my podcast, The Leviathan Chronicles.

On our last day, I followed my typical Seattle routine by heading to Vivace Coffee that pulls this unreal expresso drink called a Café Nico. Basically, its a 4-ounce mixture of espresso, steamed half and half, orange and vanilla syrups, orange spritz and cinnamon. I’ve talked about how it’s tough to make the needle jump for me caffeine-wise, but just on taste alone, I normally drink 4 of these in a single sitting.  So delicious.

Next morning, it was time to say goodbye to Ali and to Seattle before making my final push north to Vancouver. Time to get some riding done!

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WHAT I LEARNED / DISCOVERED TODAY:

I’m done with wine tasting trips to Napa. I was so enchanted with the approachability of the Oregon Vineyards along with the outstanding quality of their wine. Also, Portland has the best food truck culture I’ve ever seen in a city. Vacant lots are used for all the trucks to congregate together selling everything from exotic fruit smoothies to Vietnamese chow to Hawaiian food to BBQ. Pure heaven. Why isn’t NYC doing this?

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