My guide Pedro Moncrief picked me up at the Portland Airport. Imagine Hunter S. Thompson and his lawyer’s multi-day daze through Vegas, substitute the desert with a forested locale and replace the psychedelics with carbohydrates and you have a good idea of my five days in the great Northwest. We hit every spot in town critiquing them along the way. At one time or another I had a vegan apple crepe, a vegan Oreo donut, a vegan chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, vegan nachos, and a vegan coronary.
My reason to make it out to Portland was my cousin’s wedding. The drive East into the Columbia River Gorge was a feast for the eyes. You had to cross the Bridge of the Gods, which is perhaps the least humbly named piece of engineering in the modern world, but somehow lived up to its nomenclature. The nuptials were held on a sunny October day overlooking the green mountains and the blue, choppy river. This was followed by eating and much drinking. A man seated at my table complimented my appetite by telling me, “You certainly put the gorge in the Columbia River Gorge.” A band played and at one point we were able to lift the bride and groom in their chairs.
The next day we felt the need to dry out. Pedro Moncrief and I went out to nature. We walked through the forest over creeks and above mountains where we were introduced to the mighty Wahclella Falls. I walked down to get as close as I could to this force of nature while staying dry. The impact of the water falling into the stream, made a thick mist which a superstitious lot could easily confuse with a ghost or phantasm.
We kept driving and got to a much larger waterfall, Multnomah Falls, this was much more of a tourist trap. To get away from the crowds we decided to climb to the top of the 600 foot falls. We walked up the paved path with nine year old kids and 75 year old ladies passing us. We finally got to the top only to find there was no snack bar up there.
Later that night I discovered one of my favorite bands was playing in Portland, The Dandy Warhols. They were playing at a concert to protest the idea of putting fluoride in Portland’s water supply. The band played all of their early hits and sounded magnificent, but their singer who was once a dapper hipster fellow looked run down. His hair, once fashionably short, was now pulled back and he played the entire concert seated. I wondered if this is what this city with its amazing food did to you. But as the concert ended the singer revealed he hurt his back in a basketball game. And with that news I ate another slice of berry pie.