Portland: July 26 (Downtown)

Time to get downtown!  After some logistical planning, we figured out a way to leave Mike home with the truck while the rest of us spent a day in town.  We wanted to take our time, but Mike had plans to work (his job) for a better part of the day and then work on his bike later.  If he needed to run errands or get parts, a partially assembled bike wasn’t going to work.  Our solution?  He dropped us off at the Portland MAX station in the morning and we rode the rail system into town. It is completely above ground, so we could see the neighborhoods pass by. 


Riding the EXPO yellow MAX line into Portland

As new tourists, we had few definite destinations, but our first stop was Powell’s City of Books, the largest new and used bookstore in the world (cue the angel chorus here, ‘cause we found our promised land!).  The store covers an entire city block and is 3 stories high.  It was totally amazingly awesome!  We love Dawn Treader in Ann Arbor, but here the used books sit right next to the new ones, so it’s super easy to find things!


All set to head into Powell’s!


We’re gearing up for a long ride home, and the girls had a list of books they wanted to read.  If they could find it here used for less than I could buy it on the Kindle, we picked it up. For less than $30, I think we bought 6 books.  Elizabeth currently has a taste for dystopian teen lit, and they had a special display just for her. 


Then it was my turn to roam the stacks, and I had so much fun I forgot to take pictures! Despite its size, the store feels cozy and has lots of little places to sit and read.  I could easily spend many hours and a lot of money here, but we forced ourselves to move on after an hour. 

Coming out of Powell’s we decided to walk the block and discovered Mio Gelato was having an anniversary celebration:  $1 for a scoop!  We couldn’t possibly turn that down, so after picking up one chocolate, one tiramisu, and one crème flavor, we walked and ate our way past the entrance to Chinatown and into the Old Town area. 


Mio Gelato

Cool Fact:  Beneath the Chinatown/Old Town streets, there are tunnels that were designed to move goods from the docks and into basement storage rooms of the local bars and businesses way way back in the day.  Legend says they were also used back in the 1800’s to kidnap unsuspecting bar patrons and haul them off to years of slavery aboard ships bound for the Pacific.  The downtown information booth lady had flyers for tours of these Shanghai Tunnels, but she told us most of it was “just stories. . . but you never know.” 



We came to Old Town for donuts: Delicious, goopy, and heavy donuts in a store that was fun, silly, and definitely a bit risque.  We waited in line for maybe 20 minutes before even getting in the store.  We ordered some of the signature donuts and sat down at a picnic table to eat (some names of the donuts were not kid-friendly, but my kids either didn’t notice or knew enough to ignore them!).   


Notice the pretzel stuck in the little voodoo dude’s chest; this is the donut Elizabeth knew she had to have


Waiting our turn (each person gets her own turn in the store)




The inside decor



Our box of donuts:  Two jelly-filled voodoo dudes, one crème-filled eyeball guy, and a maple-bacon donut



Yep, that’s right.  A maple-glazed donut with two strips of bacon



Everybody had to try a bite, and wow – it was not gross.  It was unexpectedly wonderful. It seemed everybody was eating these things, and now we knew why.  



Elizabeth getting to the guts of her voodoo man



We needed a walk after the donuts, so we walked toward a central gathering area to do some people watching.  We liked this sign. 



This sign made us wonder.  If you have to specifically ask, what are the odds people will listen?



Pioneer Courthouse Square:  Sometimes called “Portland’s Living Room,” we found some good tourist maps here, picked up some brochures, and found a place to rest. 



Oh, and we needed to balance all the sugar so we grabbed a cheesesteak from Philly Cheesesteaks and Burgers, a cart located on the square.  For $6.25 it was big enough to split 3 ways and it was delicious! 



The girls found this guy with an umbrella statue hilarious for some reason



A little bit of Ida (Michigan) right here in Portland!

Highlight of the day:  While we were hanging out in the square, I got a text from a fellow Ida grad who now lives in Portland saying he could meet up for a while.  Joseph (forget that you just had another birthday ‘cause you will always be Joey to me) Klei not only came by to say hello, but he led us to some great coffee and then took us around town for 2 hours and showed us all the stuff we wouldn’t know to see on our own.  Thanks, Joey!  It was fun to catch up, and you are an awesome host for your wonderful city! 



Along the waterfront, standing where the Saturday Farmers’ Market would be, looking across at Ankeny Square



Teaching the girls urban surfing on the downtown trolley



Portland State University Campus



Portlandia: A freakishly large copper statue (second in size only to the Statue of Liberty)


We were also treated to a great view of the city from the 30th floor of “Big Pink” – a high rise building with pinkish-tinted windows – inside the Portland City Grill


Looking out at the southeast section of the city, the mound of green toward the left is Mt. Tabor, an extinct volcano.  It’s been extinct for 300,000 odd years, but it’s still a volcano.  They built the city around a volcano, and that suddenly makes these Portland folk seem much more hardcore than the stereotypical bicycles and flannel would suggest. 



It’s more distant, but just to the right of center here is Mt. St. Helens. 


After many thanks to J. Klei for his company and walking tour, we made it back to camp around 5 o’clock.  Mike had just finished up his real work for the day and was starting on the bike.  The girls helped him piece some things together, and Elizabeth helped him replace a chain.


Getting some help with the velo



Un-greased bike chains hanging all over the place



Putting on new chains


Mike worked on the bike until almost midnight.  There is now only one day of prep time until the riders leave.  We all took a break in the evening and rode over to the Day’s Inn where the event organizers had an info meeting and passed out shirts and stickers. 


Ready to ROAM!



One conference room filled with velos!


We still have a lot to do before the trip moves east and the riders begin pedaling.  Mike has to finish a few adjustments on the bike, I have a meeting about my role as a support vehicle in the first week of the event, and we have to do more mundane things like laundry and grocery shopping.  It was a great day in Portland, though, and we’re almost ready to move on.

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