OR Day 7/ WA Day 0 - Fancy Foods and Friends
Today Dana and I set out to hop from one major Northwest city to another, driving from Portland to Seattle. The day actually started though with me skype-ing my ex-girlfriend who was living in Vancouver at the time, about whether or not we should meet up while I was as close geographically as I was going to be during my trip. We decided that, while there were still a lot of emotions around the break up, we would feel bad if we didn’t see each other when we had the chance since four years of friendship and nearly three years of dating was a lot of time to just ignore. I was glad Dana was there with me, because she and Emma had been room-mates, so they just had normal friend catching up to do without any heavier feelings which kept the whole conversation lighter and more level headed than it might have been if I had been left to my own whiny boy devices.
Between catching up and being emotional, that took up a good chunk of the morning and we had a decent amount of ground to cover so off we went. To be time-efficient, we drove through a little drive thru coffee hut called Coffee Rush, which was super good and super speedy which was perfect for today.
I was surprised by how close Portland and Seattle were, but with some morning traffic it was just under three hours of driving. To break that up and get some good brunch, we stopped in Washington’s state capital, Olympia. I primarily know Olympia, as the hometown of the punk band Rancid, so I was amused and surprised to see that it’s a totally normal and sweet looking suburb. Maybe it looked different in the 80s, but I guess as much punky angst can be born from boredom as turmoil.
For lunch, we stopped at a classy joint with a cute name called the Bread Peddler. They’re known for fine artisan breads and making all their meals and pastries from scratch. Everything looked delicious but I felt obligated to pick the fanciest sounding thing on the menu so I ordered the Ouefs en Meurette (you know it’s fancy cuz it’s French) which consisted of two poached eggs topped with a red wine and herb sauce and lardons (bacon bits), mushrooms, and pearl onions, served on toasted challah bread and accompanied by an arugula salad. The red wine and herb sauce, while a nice flavor, may have been a touch stronger than I would have personally preferred, but everything else was fantastically balanced, and the poached eggs and challah in particular were exceptional.
Post-brunch, we stopped at Olympia Coffee Roasters, which had warm pop-arty interiors and some great locally roasted coffees which helped get us to Seattle.
Our first stop in the city was to meet up with our friend, Jacques, who moved there for a nice tech job after graduation. Jacques is a big wonderful ball of energy from South Africa, who always lit up our dorm with a loud laugh and an eagerness to get everyone partying, so he was excited to get to play tour guide and show us all his favorite sights.
We started out by going to Seward Park, a 300-acre public park that occupies the entirety of Bailey Peninsula which extends into Lake Washington. The park made a stunning impression right from the get-go with some beautifully vibrantly colored flowers right at the entrance.
The most amazing part of the park though, which Jacques was eager to show us, was the Old Growth Forest. An old growth forest is characterized by being largely untouched by the growth of the city and by being a snapshot of the ecology that most naturally grows there. It was very surreal and primordial looking with towering trees and a dense canopy providing a thick shade over the hiking trails. Interestingly, in terms of Old Growth forests, Seward Park is considered relatively young because many of the trees are only (only) 200 years old. We spent over an hour just rambling and exploring the lush otherworldly greenery.
The forest wasn’t the only incredible part of the park though, because, being a peninsula, it also had some considerable shoreline with beautiful beaches and views overlooking Lake Washington. There was a looping path along the shore that we followed out of the park, enjoying all the scenery along the way.
After the park, the next place Jacques led us to was Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, which randomly had an impressive, scowling 16 ft. tall bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin located in a public park. The statue was built in 1988 for the Communist Republic of Czechoslovakia, but the communist part fell only a year later and the statue was sent to be destroyed. A man from Washington happened to be living in the Czech Republic at that time and fell in love with the statue, purchasing it for $41,000 from the scrapyard and shipping it back to his hometown. Many people thought it was horrible when it first arrived, but in the intervening years its become an endearing community oddity that the people in the neighborhood like to dress up for different events.
My personal favorite outfit I saw online was when the community dressed ol’ Lenin up in drag for Pride week:
After the statue, we went Jacques’ favorite local brewery, Reuben’s Brews (which is a fun name to say). All three of us fell asleep in the Uber on the way there, which further leads me to believe that post-graduation is a whole lot like being back in pre-school. The brewery lived up to Jacques’ hype, and the tap room had a really communal fun atmosphere. They had an impressive variety of brews on display, but my personal favorite was their Robust Porter which had a rich dark body but an easy drinkability to it.
After tossing back a few beers, we stumbled on over to Ballard Pizza Company. We split two fantastic pizzas, a Funghi (mixed mushroom and thyme) and a Veggie Bomb (Grape tomato, zucchini, olive, pickled pepper, red onion, mushroom). Personally I thought the Funghi was basically perfect, but I really enjoyed the novelty of zucchini on pizza with the veggie bomb. Look at how happy we were!
After great drinks and food, the only thing we were missing was some great dessert so we made our way to D’Ambrosio Gelato for some fantastic old school gelato. I got an affogato, with vanilla gelato a shot of espresso, and a deliciously crumbly Italian finger cookie. What an amazing way to end the day.
After that, we made our way back to Jacques’ apartment where Dana promptly passed out and Jacques and I sat around drinking a bit and sharing silly videos. Perhaps it was the booze or the late hour, but I distinctly remember this one absolutely destroying us to the point where I think we woke Dana up with our laughing:
Favorite Random Sightings: Electric Lettuce (very psychedelic name for a dispensary; Browsers (cute name for a bookstore); “Home of celebrations and giant meatballs” (two pretty different things)
Regional Observations: I feel like they’re becoming more of a national trend but those tiny drive-thru coffee huts like the one I went to this morning are everywhere in the northwest.
Albums Listened To Today: I still just let Dana DJ, but there was a good amount of Father John Misty today.
People’s Favorite Jokes:
How do you silence an Italian? Mittens
Favorite Coffee: Coava Coffee Roasters in Portland for pure coffee; Rimsky Korsakoffee House for aesthetics
Favorite Bar: Rooftop Bar at Revolution Hall in Portland
Favorite Restaurant: Santeria in Portland
Favorite Beer: Vanilla Oatis Oatmeal Stout from Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene
Favorite Food Cart: Jurassic Cart in Portland
Favorite Attraction: Natural- Crater Lake; Man Made- The Portland Art Museum
Favorite Open Mic - Helium Comedy Club
General Impression of the Portland Comedy Scene: Overall Portland had a really strong scene, though part of them having such a strong scene made it feel busier than a lot the smaller scenes I’d been to. Comics didn’t hang out as much as mics, because they were more constantly on the move to the next show. That being said, when they did hang out everyone was pretty nice and very friendly to me it was just a matter of catching them.
Songs of the Day: