Attempted to Ford the River on the Oregon Trail: The Oregon Chronicles Part I

This is a tale of two Oregons. The good Oregon and the winter Oregon. Oregon is one of the most scenic states in the US. And because of my most fabulous of jobs I was fortunate enough to visit this fair state twice last year. This is Part I of my Oregon chronicles.

Before I begin I want to start by acknowledging my visits to Oregon where limited to only 2 cities, Hillsboro and Portland. And I spent less than a week total between the two stays. With that being said, I still think the trips are worth writing about and so I shall.

The Arrival

My first and longest stay in Oregon was in August of 2018. Because of the whole job thing, my flight into Oregon was via the company plane which landed in a private hangar in Hillsboro. (I felt so classy ya’ll). It’s about a 2.5 hr flight from Phoenix direct from Mesa Airport to Portland-Hillsboro Airport. August in Phoenix is like hell on earth, 100+ degree temps every day and even at night it doesn’t get below 80. Average temps in the Hillsboro area in August are like highs near 80s and lows in the upper 50s. Sounded good to me. Prior to my arrival the weather had been fantastic. But at the time of my visit, forest fires were still raging in California and the smoke had migrated over the Pacific Northwest. Nevertheless the weather felt incredible.

Hillsboro is a modest sized city surrounded by some farming communities. It’s very drivable and easy enough to navigate around. There was lots of green things growing everywhere, and many large pine trees throughout the city. It was quite picturesque and it felt earthy, for lack of a better word. I could see why people would want to live here.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Portland West. It’s a nice hotel with decent amount of amenities and was close to work. But the prices were ridiculous for a Holiday Inn. I think the high rates are mainly due to the close proximity to my job site. Just a few blocks away and within walking distance from the hotel is a new development called Orenco Station. It’s a planned community with all kinds of places to eat, sleep, shop, and drink. Friendly folks and a lot to do just in this one area, but it’s straight-up hipsterville. Not that there’s anything wrong with that 😉
Further out you’ll find the usual suspects of chain restaurants (IHOP, P.F. Changs, Red Robin, etc.) but there is large amount of ethnic food places and restaurants unique to the region. And for all you creatures of comfort you also have the typical stores like Target, CVS that you’ll find any part of the US. For this trip, there wasn’t much time to check out some of the new places. So I stuck to what I knew.

First Day

My first day in Hillsboro I didn’t do or see a whole lot of the city. I went straight in to work from the airport to meet my team members. The group I work with is remote, some members in AZ, some in OR, and some in Costa Rica. I was meeting our super smart software tech lead for the first time and I really wanted to make a good impression. We’d “known” each other for a few months but never interacted outside of Skype. Unfortunately things didn’t quite go as planned. I had been in super run mode the last few days and was on a health kick. So I had forgotten to eat my tiny little pre-planned meals. And as a diabetic taking meds every day and not eating is bad juju. Within minutes of sitting down for our first meeting I started to get the shakes and sweat pouring off me like rain. I looked like I was tweaking off of a crystal meth binge. Out of the corner of my eye I could see my coworker giving me that look. Like what the hell is wrong with her. Is she on crack or something??? The shame you guys, it burned. I’d come to Oregon to slay but here I was at work looking like a junkie. I wanted to fall through a hole in the floor and die. The situation continued to go downhill for there. My meeting was about to start and I was so nauseated I couldn’t speak. I was praying to God not to let me puke on the nice guy in front of me.
Well God must have been listening that day. I made to the restroom in time and was able to recover with the help of some honey. The rest of the day went better but there was no time for sightseeing. Dinner was at Sweet Tomatoes with my software co-worker who was too nice to mention our earlier situation but was still kinda giving me the side-eye.

Into Beer World

Beer from Jakes

Now for the fun part of the trip. On my last day in Oregon, my co-workers made plans to go into downtown Portland to check out the sights. Because yours truly was once again without wheels, I quite naturally invited myself along on their trip. (Sorry about that guys)
Our first stop was at the Washington Square Mall right off of highway 217. It’s a decent size mall with every kind of shopping store imaginable: American Eagle, Coach, Apple, GameStop, etc. There was even a brick and mortar Amazon book store (first time seeing their physical store anywhere). Initially I had no intentions of shopping there, I really anxious to get to Portland. We stayed there long enough to lose each other a few times and walk away with lighter wallets.
After everyone tired of being mallrats we were on our way into the city. The drive into Portland was beautiful. The area surrounding Portland is mountainous and tall pine trees run along the side of the I-5. The view of the skyline is amazing as you approach downtown. I don’t think anyone had any destination in mind for where to go, we just wanted to have find some food and have some fun.

It didn’t take long to get downtown from the mall. We found street parking somewhere near W Burnside and Park and then off we went. I was surprised at the number of homeless people in the area. It was as much or more as I had seen in several areas in California. We did a quick tour down Broadway Avenue and took some pictures of the area. Everywhere I turned downtown looked spectacular. There was a lot going on around us and it was hard to know where to go first.

We made several stops on Broadway in search of cheap eats. But cheap and Broadway do not go together. So our burger & beer budget had to settle for food from Jakes Grill happy hour menu. For bar food, it was actually good and most importantly cheap. They also had a nice beer selection. I had the Ecliptic Capella Porter. It tasted kind of like coffee but went well with my burger.

After Jakes we had time to do one more thing. The only thing that mattered, find more beer. I mean really, how can you come to Portland and not go for a pint or two of their local craft beers. It’s sacrilege! So in the spirit of the city we found a chill joint called Bailey’s Taproom. They had a nice selection of craft beers (over 20) and there was something for everyone. The vibe of this place is really awesome, kind of laid-back and nothing fussy. I think I got some kind of chocolate/coffee beer again that was even better than the one I had Jakes. We stayed for a spell, had a drink or two, and discussed the meaning of a frenemie.

Headed Home

Our return trip was uneventful. We all got to use the company jet again. Yay!! And my remote coworkers were returning with me to visit the AZ site. Upon arrival they went off to seek out the Grand Canyon and I went off to seek my bed. My visit to Oregon was short and sweet but I knew I would be going back .

The smarty pants I work with. Awseome people

Stay tuned for Part II of the Oregon chronicles……………………

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