I don't think this NaBloPoMo exercise is having the intended effect. Gawd, I'm sick of blogging now. But dammit, except for Thanksgiving Day, I've made it this far, so I might as well slog on. Plus, it will finally force me to finish my Portland stories. Long, long after I should have. I'll touch on just three highlights: A non-brewpub, and some cool places I found outside of Portland.
The non-brewpub was a really weird little place. It was called La Bodega, not far from Todd's house – walking distance, almost – and not to be confused with the Austin La Bodega, a salsa-dance bar. This place was ostensibly a bar, but yet it wasn't. It was more like a beer boutique. The waiter/bartender gave very personal service, bringing out whichever bottle of fancy-pants beer you desired – and they had the fanciest – and people relaxed around couches in the dimly lit place. No loud music, no big crowds. It almost had the feel of a coffeehouse. I expected a poetry reading to break out. Perhaps a wine tasting room is a good analogy. Good beer, but I wasn't quite certain what to make of the place.
On another day, we drove up Mt. Hood. Yes, there was snow up on the mountain, even in mid-summer. We wanted to take the kids on a ride up the ski lift, but alas! – the lift closed about 30 minutes before we arrived. I wasn't sure how to console the kids – predictably, the older girl started going into meltdown mode (she is only in the last few weeks learning how to cope with disappointment, and still hasn't perfected the skill) – but I darn sure knew how to console myself. With a beer. And yes, Oregon even has brewpubs on its mountains. About halfway back down, we pulled into the Ice Axe Grill in Government Camp. They call themselves "the brewery with altitude," har, har. Once again, my procrastination is making it hard for me to remember what I had, but I remember liking it. Problem is, one beer was just okay, and the other was great, and I can't remember which was which. But I'm pretty sure I had the Hogsback Oatmeal Stout and the Ice Axe India Pale Ale. One of them was cask-conditioned – I want to say the IPA. Definitely stop in if you visit Mount Hood, which you should.
But possibly the most magnificent day of our trip – even edging out Bill's bicycling tour of Portland's brewpubs and the Oregon Brewers Festival, but only barely – was our trip to the coast. The Pacific coast is just godawful beautiful, mountains just shooting straight up out of the ocean. At Pacific City, the big girl and I climbed the biggest sand dune I've ever seen, I jumped in frigid water that made Barton Springs seem toasty, and we all marveled over a multitude of sea life stuck to the rocks, various anemones and starfish that were just fascinating.
And once it was over, we walked over to the Pelican Pub & Brewery (pictured above) for their wonderful beer and magnificent, very fresh seafood. I had some fried oysters that were as big as my head and tasted divine. I've never seen oysters like this. I didn't even know nature made them that big. Jeez, I have no idea what I drank now – either the IPA or the Scottish ale, or maybe both. And I took home a bottle of the 2005 Bridal Ale, a "French country ale," I guess a take on the Belgian saison. Bill and I killed it off the next night back at his house. I left the coast with a warm glow (despite the chilly Northwestern air), filled with good beer, hot seafood, and a great memory of time well spent with my kids. Watching the sun go down into the Pacific is a rare treat.
There is more I could tell of Portland – I can think now of at several worthy places and beers I haven't mentioned: Roots, or the Lucky Labrador (a bar where you can take your dog, and man, their IPAs – they had more than one – and barleywine were stunning), or John's Marketplace, the most magnificent beer store I've seen in my life in one place (more than 800 beers!). Seriously, John's made Grape Vine Market and Spec's look like chumps. But I'm just getting too removed from it all now. The memory's getting foggy, and I'm moving on to new adventures. If you want tales of Portland, you should buy some plane tickets and go create your own. I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thanks to my good friends who made what would have been a good trip anyway into a magnificent one.
Vignette #4, Adam Brož (Budějovický Budvar)
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