Portland, Oregon – Part One

I love traveling. I love finding new places, experiencing new tastes, sounds and sights, and learning new things. Generally I find these things are even better when I experience them with friends who appreciate the traveling experiences as well. Some of my best friends are those who see each day as an opportunity to explore – to go down new side streets, never fearing “getting lost”, to eat at new restaurants and find new favorite dishes, to stop to take a photo or to drive down a country back road, eager to see where it leads. Unless you are a hard-core solo traveler, I hope you have found a few travel friends as well!

One group of my friends in particular really enjoys traveling and exploring. The five of us jokingly refer to ourselves as “the Fabulous Five.” These are friends with whom I have shared in person many of the adventures I’ve shared here on this blog. Seattle, Columbia Hills State Park, and the Saint Paul Rodeo are just a few of the adventures we’ve taken together.

Well, the cookie crumbled and two of the Fabulous Five split off for the summer. One traveled up into Canada for a summer semester studying linguistics, while the other journeyed to the Czech Republic teaching English. Honestly, I’m a little jealous. The remaining three of us, balancing work and other responsibilities, are facing a summer of local adventuring. We determined we would enjoy it anyway.

We three decided and planned to “do something together“. We had ideas, but nothing set. Over a homemade lunch we tossed around ideas and finally decided to drive into Portland, try Wailua Shave Ice and visit Powell’s City of Books – something new and something old.

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Wailua Shave Ice is located in a small pedestrian only mall, Union Way, across West Burnside Street from Powell’s City of Books bookstore. Among the handful of small neighboring shops, Wailua was definitely the most popular spot. We joined close to 20 people in line and tried to decide which delicious sounding shave ice to buy. Eventually I decided on the Almond Joy.

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As we slowly shifted down the line, I got a bit bored, so leaving Anna as a delegate in line, Tina and I set out down the corridor and out the other end of the mall. We made our way around the block and across the street to Powell’s. I sure love that store! Living outside of Portland, I dread going in to the city, but I’ll go if we’re going to Powell’s. The huge bookstore with its warm charm, mixed shelves of new and used books, concrete split-level floors, color-coded rooms, coffee infused air and absolutely necessary information desk, always offers an enjoyable experience.

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Planning on coming back after eating the shave ice, we made our way in one entrance, skipped through one level and up to another and out a different exit. We then made our way back to Wailua where we discovered our held place in line had not made as much of an advancement as we had hoped. Even so, everyone seemed in good spirits and the three of us speculated about the treat we would soon try.

Once we got to the counter and ordered, I saw why they call it “shave ice” and not simply “snow cones”. The light fine ice base reminded me of powder snow; it was not the pebbly ice of your typical snow cone. The drizzled full flavored coconut syrup left no question of its good quality; it was not the typical snow cone cheap sugary artificial color and flavor. It turned out to be one of those treats you can justify and feel good about indulging. The Nutella, toasted coconuts and almonds popped with the coconut ice and fully justified the $6.

By the time we got the shave ice, our paid time for parking was almost up. We decided to forgo Powell’s to instead stop at Scrap PDX. The shop, resembling a thrift store and a discount store merged into one, sells only goods geared for art projects. In a rather over whelming fashion, bins of yarn, cloth and sewing filled one corner, chests and drawers full of beads filled another, along with poster board, plastic of random shapes and colors, paints and all sorts of other things filling in the middle. It made me think of my aunt, an elementary school art teacher of 40 years, and her house. Materials to make all kinds of fun art projects along with half finished demos of the projects lie strewn all over her house. This store was like that. I could see this store as being a go-to spot to find random material you may need for this or that project, but then again, you might just want to go with an open mind…

With dinner and evening time constraints, about this time we headed home. However – we didn’t quite make to a few places, and Tina and I decided to extend the adventure to the next afternoon after work.

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