Wednesday, July 31, 2013

7-31-2013 Cara's Thoughts on Upcycling in Portland

In our wanderings around this city, I have been totally impressed by the number of places that have upcycled common objects into beautiful, creative works of art that are often functional.  As a supporter of sustainability in action, I love to see discarded items enjoy a good second life, especially in such a public way.  Following are a few of my favorite examples of upcycling and reuse.  Keep up the good work, Portland!

These bike racks (made from old bicycles) can be found on SE Division Street.
This amazing piece of art and others like it, made from all kinds of scrap metal, are for sale at the Love Art Gallery in the Sellwood-Moreland area.
This incredible railing, made from old saw blades, wrenches, staple guns, gears, etc., can be found outside The ReBuilding Center on NE Mississippi Ave.
This is the beautiful entrance to The ReBuilding Center on NE Mississippi Ave, where the public can donate or purchase affordable salvaged doors, windows, sinks, tubs, furniture, and lots more for reuse.  What a wonderful resource!

Monday, July 29, 2013

7-26-2013 - Meeting at Lightbar restaurant and coffee house

Eric had a nice productive day working at Nedspace and then at 4:15 he went to a meeting at the Lightbar  The restaurant opened on June 1.  The meeting went well and I think the owner, Alex, now fully understands the importance of Local Search, Yelp, Foursquare, etc.  He has a nice place there and he whipped us up a little special appetizer.

The bar features a really unique lighting fixture
The Lightbar features a full bar, a full coffee bar, and a menu of gourmet food
We have been taking the bus instead of driving anywhere and this has always worked out....but on this day from this location the bus was a real let down.  I had a couple of choices of what bus to take home and according to the schedule I was making a good choice, but I missed the bus, missed the transfer and ended up spending 1.5 hours getting home.....Then as we headed out for the evening the bus again sort of let us down and took a long time.

We finally arrived at our destination after dark and we ended up going to a gathering of food carts for dinner.  In Portland, many of the food carts are clumped together in semi permanent pods.  That is where we went.  We decided on Pyro Pizza and were not disappointed.

wood fired pizza in a cart

8 bucks for a margarita pizza ( very good )
From there we headed off to our destination which was to see countryside ride.  We saw this band before and they were really good and unfortunately my pic and video did not turn out because the bar was too dark.

After the band was done we looked at the schedule and realized that the bus ride home would be very difficult and time consuming so we had to take a cab home.

Friday, July 26, 2013

7-25-2013 Alberta Last Thursday Event - Eric's Take

At about 6 in the evening we headed off for the Alberta Street event that is held on the last Thursday of each month.  On the way we took note of a couple of things that really make Portland stand out as unique.  The first one is how nice our neighbor's yard looks.  Many people landscape with edibles and they are both useful and beautiful.  It just makes more sense to me to do this.

landscaping with edibles
Our other neighbor has had these people working hard on a brand new retaining wall.  They had a bunch of scrubby bamboo before.  Now they have paid to have that all ripped out and they are getting a new wall built.  They have chosen to have this built out of recycled concrete that used to be a road or floor or parking lot or something.  It is really turning out nice.

The busted up concrete bricks are laid out waiting to become the next course

Here is how it looks up close
Everybody really embraces recycling in Portland and at the street fair it looked like anybody can perform or display and we saw some truly amazing products....and things were super super cheap too!  The bars and restaurants had bands too.  

The Elixer Lab is a great place to hang out on Alberta St
There is a place that is called Pine Street Biscuits.  There is usually a long line there.  I happened to look in there and saw no line.  I ordered the Biscuit and Gravy for 4 bucks.  It started off as a full 6 stars on a 5 scale, but it was sooooo rich that by the end I had to give it 3.5 stars.  I don't know what they put in it, but I was full for the rest of the night. 

Biscuit and Gravy from Pine Street Biscuits
On the street there are a variety of very entertaining bands.  Maybe there were 15 or 20 in all.  They were all very good.  Below is typical of what you might see.  

Alberta Street is shut down from 6 until 9:30 and after it was over we met up with a friend.  He was worried that it might be too cold to ride his scooter home.  His friend offered him her jacket to wear, but he wasn't sure if it was his style.
Justin is sporting his loaner jacket
This was at the bollywood theatre and the food looks really good and reasonably priced there.  After that we happened across a great band.  I didn't catch their name, ... it was something like Chernobyl.  Anyway they were russians and sang many songs in russian.  They were very good and entertaining.  Below is a clip of their performance to give you a feeling for them.

7-25-2013 Last Thursday on Alberta in Portland, OR - Cara's Take

Wow - what fun!  Lots of people told us not to miss Last Thursday on Alberta.  So glad we took their advice!  We encountered beautiful new art works, upcycled products, resale items, good music, delicious food, and tons of nice people.  We started out at 15th (the start of the blocked off section), and decided to make our way up one side of the street, then come back down the other side. 

At the start of it all we found a vendor selling notebooks upcycled from old vinyl album covers.  Couldn't help but purchase one made from Janis Joplin's "Pearl" album cover as a gift for a friend.  She will flip when she gets it in the mail.  We also purchased a ring made from an old public transportation token.  In fact, it has an old token from Indianapolis Railways - what are the chances of finding such a souvenir of our hometown out here in Portland?!  Another nice find was a cool keychain made from twisted copper.  (We both love twisted copper art pieces.) 

Amazingly, when we passed Pine State Biscuits there was no line (and there is always a line there), so we took the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about.  We just wanted a snack, so we thought we would get something small.  Eric enjoyed a biscuit and gravy, and I had a biscuit with honey and butter.  However, just one biscuit and gravy was almost too much for Eric, and my yummy biscuit filled me up all night as well.

We also stopped in at Elixir Lab for a quick drink.  Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners happened to be playing.  We had seen them at the Beerfest and really liked their old-timey kind of music.
Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners at Elixir Lab

The street became packed with people, and we were barely able to see everything before it was over and the vendors were packing up.  However, we did manage to run into our two nieces, who laughed when asked if they were misbehaving, and who were offended by somebody asking them for a cigarette.  (They responded with something like, "Do we look like the kind of people who would smoke?  Eeewww!!!") 

At that point they were starting to clear people off the street - very nicely, of course, because that is the Portland way.  First was a line of bicycles, each with a different letter that together spelled "LOVE".  Behind them were vans with loudspeakers asking people politely to clear the street.

We were also actually able to meet up with friends at Bollywood Theater.  They were closing down at that point, so we headed off for another bar.  We ended the night at Alberta Street Pub.  That was our first time there, but we will definitely be back.  Nice vibe, good local beers, plus we hit on a great band - Chervona.  Their Russian/Gypsy/Klesmer/Punk music really rocked and had the whole bar dancing!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

7-24-2013 - search engine optimization meetup

There was a meetup at the upper floor of McMinnimans off of Hawthorne Street.  The topic of the meetup group is search engine optimization.  The specific topic of this meeting was Google +.  The presenter was Colleen and she was very knowledgeable and informative.  She was also very open to new information.  It was refreshing to be with people that appreciate google + and see it's value.  Sure nobody uses Google + now, but google is the biggest search engine and google maps is very widely the google maps product is google + local so Indeed Google + is widely used ... just not as a social network.

After that we went to Buffalo Exchange and got a couple of shirts.  We finished off the night by playing some pinball.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7-23-2013 Tech meetups

We started off at a happy hour meetup that was an event where several meetup groups invited people to.  This was held at the top floor of the Red Lion Hotel.  It was an interesting event and we talked to a few interesting people.  While we were there we were clued into a big open house at Puppet Labs.  There is a big open source software conference here in Portland called OSCON

We really had a great and invigorating time at Puppet Labs.  They create open source software that allows you an automated way to maintain servers.  They have a wonderful facility with about 175 workers.  Their office is very nice and has video games, ping pong, and beer on tap.  They were very kind and gracious hosts and fed us a variety of tasty apps and gave us free beer and wine.  We stayed so late that we had to take a taxi home because the bus was running on their infrequent schedule.

Their bike room is twice this big.  The employees love riding their bikes to work here.
One funny side note.  This was a tech event and people from around the world payed thousands of dollars to come to OSCON.  I ran across a young lady who boldly and confidently said that "she thought computers were a problem and they were too relied on".  I told her that she should just not use a computer or a cell phone and she should just shun them then.  She got huffy.  I found out that she had crashed the party for free beer. 

7-22-2013 walk to The Bye and Bye

We had a business meeting at 5:30 at RonTom's.  We met with a very nice copywriter and discussed social networking and local search and looked all of the stuff he did.  It is an interesting place because there is no signage, they don't have a website and the only marker is just a guy with a helicopter suit.  The prices were reasonable at happy hour and they have a large outdoor space that was pretty crowded.  Although they don't have a website they have pretty good info on Google + Local.

After that we decided to head over to The Bye and Bye on Alberta Street.  This is the second time that we have gone here and it is a vegan bar.  The ratings for the place are very good and there is always a big crowd here.  There is a very nice outdoor patio that is very comfortable.

We split a meatball sandwich and it was really good.  The sandwich costs 8 bucks and could be stacked up favorably with any meatball sandwich that I have had.
Meatball Sandwich - Vegan ( 5 stars )
One very nice thing about Portland during July is that there are blackberries and raspberries all over the place.  It appears that people are planting them near the sidewalks just so people can have some as they walk buy.  They are very very good.
Sidewalk Blackberries near The Bye and Bye

Monday, July 22, 2013

7-21-2013 Last day of the International Beerfest

The beerfest is about tasting beer and learning about the different beers.  There are 150 beers to sample and there is a guide that allows you to choose the beer by stats and style and then you go and find the number you want.

The music is awesome and was mostly country and bluegrass type of bands.  It is interesting how blues, bluegrass, and country are so similar and the different music classifications are like different colors....the number is infinite.

 I had plenty of tickets left so we started out trying to try the porters, the dunkels, and the weisengoots.  But soon we realized that all of the beers were running out, so I just basically forgot about the sheet and just walked around and picked something.

I learned a lot about beers during the festival and I thought it was a very nice event.  We each had a strategy over 3 days to try all the beers of certain styles so we wouldn't mix them altogether in the palate.  Who knows if it matters, but that is what we did.

The real highlight for me was the bands.  Below are a couple of videos of the bands we saw on Sunday.

7-20-2013 a day in Portland with my brother and sister-in-law

We got up at about 10, had breakfast and headed out at about 11:30.  We went walking on Alberta Street and just checked out some things.  The goal of the day was to check out some different areas of town and get a flavor of Portland.  My brother and sister had never been here before.

After a little while we hopped the bus and headed into the International Beer Festival.  We were there long enough for my Bro to use his tickets and then we headed on.  We saw some good bands and had a good time there.

On the way we stopped for a pic in honor of our nephew Jake.

We decided to hop into a place called "the Life of Riley" just because we liked the name.  Usually I am on top of reviews and stake things out, but we were just winging it at this point.  We ordered 3 things and they were all nicely spiced.  They were all on the spicey side, but not too much for our tastes.

Pork BBQ sliders
Tofu Tacos

Mac and Cheese with sausage
Normally we review things online and quiz everybody on the ratings and all of that, but this time we just chilled out and had a good time.  Off the cuff I give them 4 out of 5 stars.

After that we went in and played some pinball at McMinnimans.  It was nice since we had a pinball machine growing up.  

After that we hopped the bus and headed off to Hawthorne street and then BAM before you knew it it was 1 in the morning.  My brother saw a cool shirt on the bartender and he literally bought it off of his back.  He has a friend who buy shirts for each other and they just randomly appear in the mail.   I need to get a pic of it.  It really tickled the bartender who was young and saw the humor of it all.  I suggested he send it to his friend unwashed with the story attached.  

We headed home because he had to fly out at 6:30 in the morning.  We packed in a full day and a half that was all accomplished with a minimum of planning.

Friday, July 19, 2013

7-19-2013 Portland International Beerfest Day one

Friday marks the day the 3 day Portland International Beerfest starts.  There are over 150 beers on tap .  Entry costs 20 bucks and that gets you a glass, 10 beer tickets, and 3 days entry into the festival.  They have music going all the time.  Each beer costs between 1 and 7 beer tickets and tickets cost 1 buck a piece.  You can buy pints of stella for 3 bucks. THe venue is pretty small and it was packed on friday afternoon.  Iwonder what it will be like tomorrow.  We enjoyed a good band called Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners.  They are an old time bluegrass band and they were good.
The Bridge City Crooners
We stayed a little while and then we decided to get some food.  There was a 50% off foursquare deal at The Brunch Box.  It is a hamburger joint.  We got 2 burgers for 6 bucks.

The Blue Cheese Burger (4 stars out of 5)

Thai Peanut Bacon Burger (3 stars)

Veggie spring roll with dipping sauce ($1.50)
Washed it down with a "real" coke like I had when I was a kid
After that we picked up my brother at the airport and then we went to Doug Fir to see the Scott Pemberton Trio.  We had seen him once before at the blues festival and he did not disappoint.  The venue is top notch and I would highly recommend it to anybody.

Scott Pemberton playing at Doug Fir
After that we headed home and got a nice cab ride by Radio Cab!

7-18-2013 - Clinton area to see the movie bidder 70

It was another very nice evening in Portland.  We had a groupon for a highly rated Mexican restaurant called Que Pasa which is just off of Hawthorn street on the SE part of town.  The place was pretty busy and we had to rush to get out of there to see the movie.

Vegetable Sopas with potatoes Ole 4 stars our of 5
Chicken Mole - 4.5 stars out of 5
With a beer and a sangria and tip our total cost was 20 bucks for everything and we saved about 15 with the groupon.  I put up a better review on Yelp.

Then we scurried off for a 1 mile walk to the Clinton Theatre to watch a screening of bidder 70.  We once again walked through Ladd's rose garden that I posted about before and this time I took a picture of his plaque which says more about who he was.  If you click on the pic it will blow up and you can read it.

William Ladd developed 120 acres of land in a novel way.

 I really love how Portland does things like just ask for help.  People pitch in all the time and help tend public trees and donate to help the trees.  This street was canopied by HUGE elm trees.  In other place these elms have long died from dutch elm disease, but here there are a bunch of them.  People are encouraged to help protect the trees and 120 bucks seems cheap considering the beauty and the shade and all that the tree gives to the neighborhood.


Then we got to Clinton theatre.  It is an old theatre that shows all sorts of different movies, but not the big current blockbusters.   Bidder 70 is about a guy who bid for and won several federal drilling contracts on public land near the arches national monument in Utah.  The movie was not all that enlightening, but it was interesting none the less.

After that we continued walking down Division street and checked out what was going on.  We bookmarked several good restaurants using Yelp.  Then we noticed a large crowd with a sign for live music.  We had stumbled upon The Landmark Saloon on 49th and Division.  There was a really good bluegrass band and they had 24 ounce PBR's for 2 bucks.  Cara got an oatmeal stout for 3 bucks.  It was a divey place with a really nice outdoor patio.  I would recommend this place to anybody.

At about 10 we hopped the bus and headed home.  After 11 or so the bus starts running a lot less frequently and we needed to get up for a big day.

Public Art in Portland, Oregon - July 2013

In our explorations of Portland I have noticed lots of public art beautifying the city.  My sister (who lives here) told me that for every new construction project they must also install some sort of art work.  I love that concept!  As a result you see a wide variety of art pieces everywhere.  Here are a couple of my favorites so far...

This lovely piece is located in the North Park Blocks

Located on NE Broadway, this is "In The Tree Tops" by Margarita Leon

Thursday, July 18, 2013

7-17-2013 Trip to Burnside and to get tickets

On Wed. 7-17-2013 we decided to hop the bus and head over to Burnside street to go to Doug Fir and pick up tickets to the Scott Pemberton Trio.  We had seen him at the Blues Festival and then I saw he was playing at Doug Fir.  I looked up the venue and it has well over 1000 google reviews which is the most I have seen.  My brother and his wife are coming to town to visit and we are all going to the show right after I pick him up from the Plane.

Scott Pemberton at the Blues Festival
We saved about 11 bucks by buying the tickets in person and we checked out the area at the same time.

We ended up going to Burnside Brewing Company and it was 3 dollar pint night so we had a beer and met a really interesting guy named Matt from San Diego.  He had a birthday and decided to just fly up to Portland to go to the International Brewers Festival this weekend.  He just hopped a plane and came up here and his wife will follow.  Interestingly he found Doug Fir online through good reviews and that was why he was there too.

I should have taken some pics, but I am just getting rolling with this travelers log and I forgot!

7-16-2013 Trip to Division Street and Ladd's Rose Garden

There is an interesting feature that really calls to you on a map.  It is called Ladd's Rose Garden.

It was laid out in this odd way because an ex mayor and businessman decided to buy up the property and develop it in this way.  (that is according to the plaque that I should have taken a picture of)

We hopped the bus and got off on Hawthorne and walked through the middle of the X.  It really is kind of cool.  There are big rose gardens and I can only imagine that today they would advocate for big community gardens.

Several Rose gardens are in the area
We made our way south to Division street and saw several interesting businesses and quite a bit going on.  We diverted down a side street and happened upon Dots Diner.  We rated it 4 stars out of 5.  We split a Falafal and Fries.  I reviewed it on Yelp

We hopped the bus and headed home at about 10.

7-15-2013 Trip down Mississippi Avenue on Monday

On Monday 7-15-2013, we decided to head over and check out Mississippi avenue after the streetfest.  From where we are staying Mississippi Avenue is about 1.2 miles away.  There were a bunch of ripe blackberries and raspberries growing over the sidewalk so we ate handfuls of those on the way.

There are several bars and restaurants there and some food carts.  We chilled out at a street cafe that they have just created by taking up some car parking on the street.

a street cafe.  This used to be parking for cars.  It is public space now.

They have a spot to take a photo at the street cafe

We walked up and down the whole street and ended up going to Mee-Sen Thai Eatery We reviewed it on Yelp.
street style pad thai with tofu 5 bucks happy hour 

Crying Tiger (6 bucks happy hour portion)

pad kee mao pak (vegan drunken noodles) 5 bucks Happy hour Portion

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

7-4 to 7-7, 2013 - Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Oregon

Over 4th of July weekend we went to the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, OR.  That was 40 hours of blues on 4 stages over 4 days, and we were there for it all!  It only cost $60/person, so it was well worth it.  There were tons of people, but everybody was nice, and it was easy to find a spot close to the stage.  Plus, there was great weather and always a nice breeze from the river.

All the bands were good (or they wouldn't have been playing at the festival), but here are some highlights from the bands we saw (too bad we couldn't see them all)...

Day 1:

Lisa Mann and Her Really Good Band - They were part of the Journey to Memphis Competition
Ben Rice Band - They were also part of the Journey to Memphis Competition and ended up winning.  Good luck in Memphis!

The Muddy Sons - They were 2012 winners of the Journey to Memphis Competition, and we can see why. Unique stage presence, and big sound from just two guys!

Joe Louis Walker - He really rocked the blues!  Definitely one of our favorites from the festival!

Dusty 45s -  Kind of psychobilly blues rock.  They reminded me a little of Reverend Horton Heat, and the lead singer/musician ended playing a flaming trumpet!

Day 2:

My Own Holiday   

Sandi Thom - All the way from Scotland!  A girl, her guitar, and some heartfelt blues.

Boyd Small Band with Josh Fullero & Lydia Warren

Eldridge Gravy & the Court Supreme - Funky, funky, funky!  Lots of energy in this large band!  You just couldn't help but dance.  Needless to say, they were another of our favorites.

Hot 8 Brass Band - A nice reminder of our winters in New Orleans.  This is another band that just makes your body move.

Allen Stone - I had just recently seen one of his videos on MTV, but I did recognize another song he played. He's better in concert than in his video.

Eric Burdon - Still rockin!

Day 3:

Terry Robb with Calvin Walker

Roseland Hunters

Mitch Kashmar

Scott Pemberton - Very good. We grabbed his flyer about his show at Doug Fir on July 19th and hope to be able to go.

Duffy Bishop Band

North Mississippi Allstars - FABULOUS!  Another favorite.  The lead singer played some unique instruments I had never seen before, including something that appeared to be a cross between a tiny guitar and a bullhorn.  He played it like a guitar, but then also sang thru it and his voice came out distorted.  Oh, and did I mention one guy played an electric washboard?!

John Hiatt & the Combo - I'm sure they were happy nobody smashed a perfectly good guitar at this festival (at least, not that we saw).

Day 4:


Ty Curtis with Terry Robb 

Taj Mahal Trio - How can you not like these legendary guys?  They really rocked the house, and are another favorite of ours!

Robert Randolph & the Family Band - Another great performance!  We didn't know these guys before, but we really like them now.  They even got Taj Mahal to jam out a few songs with them!

Simon Tucker Band - We actually ended up listening to this band on the little Crossroads Stage instead of battling the crowds to watch Robert Plant.  Lots of passion, and good music!  We were very happy with our decision.