Portland Redemption

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On a more uplifting note: While the “Hatchery vs Wild” symposium disappointed, Portland food does not. So I, along with some Patagonia buddies and various other fish conservationists, drowned our sorrows in good eats. Did somebody say food trucks? I am always blown away by the variety and quality of grub found in the vaunted Portland food vehicles. Teriyaki? Falafel? Pad thai? Curry? Pizza? Chile Colorado? Kalua pig? Who could decide? I like to think of a row of food trucks as a kind of long, outdoor buffet table. Why choose just one?

That’s me, fighting off despair. Spam musubi, anyone? Nothing soothes frayed nerves–at least for me–like salt, sugar, fat and pork byproducts. It was a good start.

Finally, on the way out of town, McCoy and I stopped by another iconic Portland food source to grab a little Voodoo “for the kids.” And speaking of salt, sugar, fat and pork byproducts, did you know they make bacon maple bars? Let me repeat: Bacon. Maple. Bar. As in slices of crispy bacon on top of maple frosting on top of chewy fried dough. But really, it was just for the kids…

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Road Trip III

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As our road trip drew closer to home, we packed the last of our vacation with Griswoldian adventure. Which is to say, we pretty much covered every tourist possibility we could think of. Started Wednesday with a calorie-filled tour of Eugene’s 5th Street Public Market, then waddled to the car to continue homeward. Pulled off I-5 long enough for a 10-minute tour of my hometown, Corvallis (“Look, there’s the house I grew up in!” “Oh. Can we listen to the rest of Hank the Cowdog now?”), then kept rolling North.

Cruised into Woodburn for a look at the tulip fields, and got sucked into an hour of bouncy-house-and-bungie-jump carnival games at the farm. The fields there are gorgeous, the kids had fun, and I was a little grumpy. Right up until I discovered the local vendor selling homemade bratwurst. Instant attitude adjustment. Great stop.  Who knew a tulip farm would feature a carnival midway? Or, more importantly, homemade bratwurst. Perhaps something to consider as income generating strategy for the blueberry farm…

Finally, we pulled into a downtown Portland hotel, our ratty duffel bags overflowing with dirty laundry and sacks full of groceries and farm supplies filling the trunk. The bellman, observing the 50 pounds of fish meal and organic fertilizer blocking access to our bags, said “First time I’ve ever seen that.” Welcome to the city, Jed Clampett. Main, thing, though, is that we were fully prepped for some urban foraging.

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Next day we sandwiched a trip to OMSI in between a thorough tour of the food truck scene (Me, carnitas tacos and Spam musubi. Stacy, chicken enchiladas. Kids, chicken katsu and mac salad. All unbelievably good. And cheap.) and a long walk in the rain to the infamous–and excellent–Voodoo Donuts. As if we needed dessert.

Then it was on to the TV studio to shoot the little interview with Comcast Sportsnet, a fast stop at the Burrito House in North Portland, and a late-night drive in torrential rain all the way to the Island. Stacy and the kids slept while I squinted through the blurry windshield (California car…still had the original wiper blades) listening to our only non-Hank-the-Cowdog CD, Paul Simon’s classic Graceland. I just kept thinking what an awesome trip it had been, and of course, about all the work that piled up while we were away. When we pulled into our driveway, it felt good to be home.