The day after the US election was a strange time to head down to Portland. The trip had been planned for months, but it still felt like we were going the wrong way at the border. My girlfriend and I tried to fend off the post-election haze with hugs and talks on the ferry over to Port Angeles, but had given in by the time we set off in our rental car, and decided to make a game out of the dark reality of President Voldemort and keep a tally of T***p signs we passed on the 101. Coincidentally, this was the exact number of times we flipped the bird out the window! We also passed a lot of (legal) pot shops, so that provided some balance!
The reality sunk in in other ways, too.* So it was a weird vacation, but what better place for weirdness than PORTLAND! I had an amazing time, and loved so much about the city. You really can’t go wrong. Here are some of the things we did, ate, and drank that we loved:
- Mad Hanna: neighbourhood dive with creative cocktails. Hot buttered pumpkin rum (seasonal)? Mango-habañero marg? Check check.
- Gigi’s Café: chicken and waffles (with real syrup and free liege waffle samples!); sweet/savory combo extraordinaire!
3. See See Motor Coffee Co: a shop for motorcycle riders + a café.
4. Grand Marketplace: IKEA’s vintage cousin who lives in a hipster city? I think you could find anything here.
5. Wildfang: clothes for wild feminists and queer women – we spent ages here trying on toques (beanies, in American) and button-downs.
6. Rocky Butte Park: views of the city, airport, Mt. Hood AND Mt. St. Helen’s! Perfect place to set up your vagina chair.
7. Rose City Food Park: La Arepa Venezuelan food – yes.
8. Laurelhurst Park: perfect for picnics, people-watching, and hanging out on a sunny day.
9. Powell’s City of Books: a city of books. It has multiple floors and takes up a full block and they have maps to navigate different sections.
10. The Big Egg breakfast sandwich shop: the fact that there was no line drew us in (don’t worry, there was a line later!); delish.
11. Our Airbnb: a studio with Hawaiian(/a little bit of chicken-themed) décor, an urban chicken coop, a fire pit, and a two-person hammock. Perfect and perfectly Portland.
12. Alberta Arts district: incredible street art, cute shops, restaurants, bars, breweries, etc.
13. Salt and Straw: weird ice cream flavours! They had Thanksgiving feature flavours, and I totally thought I’d get something chocolatey but after trying the goat cheese and pumpkin pie I had to go for it!
14. Nong’s Khao Man Gai chicken and rice: I think this was my favourite meal. The sauce is extraordinary. You can buy bottles of it!
15. HUMP: you can look up this film festival (curated by Dan Savage) yourself 😛 What a fun event; the best part was that they always choose props that entrants can include for extra points. A year ago, it seemed pretty harmless for one of those to be a “Make America [blah blah etc.]” hat (boo!); someone brilliantly included it as a used condom receptacle (yay!)
16. Fuel Café: giant, delicious portions; Bennys on biscuits was a tasty perk.
17. Shebop: yeah!
18. Voodoo Doughnuts: had to. Neither of us is a huge doughnut person, but I like doing some touristy things (especially when they involve food!) We each got a pretty basic one, but had to try the Gay Bar – lots of cream and fruit loops 😀 Bonus points for the motto on the box: “good things come in pink boxes”!
19. Ground Kontrol: an arcade for adults (and kids)! They serve beer after 5; we had so much fun in the early aft though! Bring cash for games; visit the bathroom for the Pacman floor!
20. Beech Street Parlour: A bar in an old house. Just cool.
21. Sengatera Ethiopian Restaurant: I was full till the next afternoon. AMAZING food.
* (More about our post-election road trip.) We stopped for dinner at a Mexican restaurant in a small city in WA. A couple tables over, some drunk white ladies were discussing their excitement about the election results. We ate quickly and skedaddled, eager to get to Portland! The next night, in downtown PDX, we were around the corner from some of the protests. I was hoping to head over. By that time they’d been deemed riots; we walked past police in riot gear, and a smashed store window below a hovering helicopter. We came across a small pocket of protesters. Things were tense and got scary. Trump protesters were circling the block in trucks with big American flags, with the plates removed. We were like, ‘shit, our travel insurance doesn’t cover political protest! And also, guns!’ and once again skedaddled.*
I have a lot of privilege; I’m white; I can “pass for straight” if I feel the situation warrants it. I was surprised by the results of the election; I generally don’t have to think about my safety in relation to simply going about my daily life. I can return to Canada after a vacation in the States; America under Dump’s leadership isn’t my reality per se. I also think that the idea of Canada being different or superior is an illusion. “America’s issues” aren’t exclusive to America, or the States. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings, and they are still quite raw. But I’m not going to use this platform to delve into that discussion right now.