As the sun dimmed on the train from Vancouver to Seattle, I caught my last glimpses of the islands and water directly next to me. Although the light was fading it was a perfect replica of the train setting from Girl on the Train because you can in fact see into people’s houses. Who knew?
The next morning I had decided to go to the La Marzocco showroom (the espresso machine you see in every established coffee shop) because I was too excited and up to early to head straight to my next stop. As I walked in to the showroom I was swallowed with sound and people. It was 9AM and there was a full blown live concert with a stage and crowd in this space. At that moment I fell in love with Seattle. Turns out it was a live radio show to promote the Capitol Hill Block Party that was happening in the Summer with some of my favorite artists. After the music, excitement, and free food, I made my way past the Space Needle and into the Chihuly Gardens and Glass museum. I was the first one in the door when it opened and raced to the back to the foremost photo spot in the whole place. I had it all to myself for about fifteen minutes and I looked crazy with my self timer and camera in weird corners of the room, but I got the shot I wanted.
For lunch I found the best mac n cheese of my life at Pike Place Market, that was washed down with a moscow mule with fresh made ginger beer. The market was not as large as I expected, but the Seattle Beer Company hidden down a stairwell in the back provided some entertainment. It’s not the actual ordered beers that you get you, it’s your own damn indecision and the ten testers you are given before committing. In the late afternoon sun I boarded a Seattle water taxi to west Seattle. The view of the city was unreal, shades of grey and white contrasted with the clear blue sky with a background of mountains that were much closer than they appeared. Upon disembarking, I immediately got back on to do it all again.
The next day I got a significant caffeine high. I made it to Victrola Coffee Roasters for a coffee cupping session, my first. I smelt and tasted each portion of the coffee making process surrounded my lumberjack looking men with a much more extensive knowledge of “grower economics” and “taste wheels” than I did. I ended up making up a long-winded explanation of what my coffee tasted like because all I could honestly discern was dirt, and not good tasting dirt, but I needed to be accepted into this group and prove my coffee enthusiasm was grounding in some knowledge and not just vanilla lattes. After my intensive one hour course at Victrola I went two doors down to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and ordered that deliberated vanilla latte and loved every sip. This place was a tourist destination. Two floors, multiple coffee bars, roasting demonstrations, it had it all. I had to work off all the caffeine with a long walk and some shopping naturally. I wandered through the hip Capitol Hill neighborhood and found myself back at Pike Place Market for a nighttime view and snack.
Although my time in Seattle was short, I was excited for my last stop… Portland. I had decided I was going on a brewery tour of Portland, and that’s exactly what I did; hence why I have almost no photos taken in Oregon. My first day I went to Breakside Brewing, and was challenged to order the pretzel and beer cheese. Please, I could do this in my sleep. It was the size of a medium dog…. and I conquered it earning a free beer for myself and the attention of the rest of the bar. That’s right boys. I walked it off with a trip down the new 23rd avenue shopping district. Shops placed in old time Portland houses, I was a fan. Later that night I made it to the Aladdin Theater for The Lone Bellow concert. I noticed that many people in the audience actually knew each other, everyone was hugging and catching up. It was an intimate show but still I was surprised at the camaraderie in the Portland music scene. I could fit in here.
The next day I had to remind myself it was a marathon, not a race. I went to about five breweries including Deschutes Brewery, Fat Head’s Brewery, and 10 Barrel Brewing. There was an intermission between some so I could go to the famous Powell’s books and get lost and semi nauseous with the five floors of books and the smell of hardcovers. The brewmaster at 10 Barrel Brewing is a woman, a fact which I learned after asking about the beer entitled “Glen Coco.” I was actually given a special cup, because women are awesome, and women support other women.
My last day, I stopped by Voodoo Doughnuts, which was completed with a line at 10AM and incessant snapchatting from the other members of the line. I finished my doughnut at the Portland Saturday Market that made the West Palm Beach Green Market look like a destination to revere. It was an absolutely glorious day. Sunny with a high of 60 degrees. I found a brewery, Wayfinder Brewery, in the industrial district in East Nashville (supposedly the hip side so I HAD to go). I sat on their porch for hours drinking and reading and unintentionally becoming a part of a going away party for a member of the Oregon Coast Guard. My last stop of the day was the Base Camp Callobofest which I had happened upon during my pre-trip research. 16 breweries from around Portland came together for a day to show off their inventive brews, complete with cornhole, axe-throwing, and music. I had my taste buds burned off by a beer made with ghost peppers, but they quickly recovered with a Rice Krispy beer that rocked my world – probably the best beer I’ve ever had in my life – I went back for fourths….oops.
After that afternoon I had to go back and take a nap. After I awoke and went to the hostel cafe for a sandwich, I was starving. Sitting there, reading my kindle with my sandwich, a guy came up to me. He was stoned out of his mind and began a conversation about ghosts. I thought to myself that I actually wasn’t busy, I was going to entertain this. After about 10 minutes his two friends, who he had met about an hour before walked in. He yelled to them that I was “cool” and that they should invite me out with them tonight. I turned and met Leonel from Mexico, and a VERY attractive Brit named Andy. I immediately said yes. Who cares if it was only 9PM and I was already in my pajamas reading. “Give me five minutes.” We were going to CC Slaughters, a local favorite bar with an absolutely terrible name. Once at the door, hot Andy couldn’t get in without a passport. We decided to uber back to the hostel to grab it. While in the car our uber driver asked what our plans were for the night, we explained our predicament and how we were headed right back. He mentioned that that was actually his favorite bar (surprise!) and with no hesitation Andy offered that if his shift was over he should join us. The uber driver stops the car, looks back and states as serious as possible “If you’re not joking, I will absolutely join you.” He asked us to call him Peaches, and he drove us back to the bar (free of charge!) and we all went in. It was a night full of three dollar drinks, dancing, laughing, and getting to know strangers. I had a flight at 6AM, but who cares (!), what a hell of a story I was living.
Click here for a list of my favorite places and experiences in the great Northwest