Portland, you had us at beer cheese…
Day 3 – Kalaloch to Portland
We woke up to rain pounding on the tent, we were sure we would get out into a storm! It was just a drizzle though, we had put our tent up under a tree and it was the drops from the tree that was causing the “storm”. The ground is very hard at Kalaloch Campground, not good for tent pegs, we had to use rocks to secure our tent in place for the night in the end.
We spent a short time taking in the views from the campground over the beach this morning before setting off on a fairly long drive after our visit to Olympic. Today we were headed for Portland, Oregon.
Portland has a saying – Keep Portland Weird – and it is, in the best way!
The drive from Kalaloch to Portland takes around 4.5 hours. On the way to Portland we made a stop at Centralia to use an ATM, we spotted a stripmall there from the road, anyone seen a drive through ATM before? We hadn’t, drove through in the wrong lane and got stuck in the one way system the other side. Solution? Walk through and hope no one saw to laugh at me! We also stopped at Starbucks and got a toffee doodle cookie which tasted amazing, I wish they sold these at our Starbucks.
We crossed over another impressive bridge on our way into Oregon across the Columbia River. We made our way to our hotel for the night McMenamins Kennedy School. Portland has a saying – Keep Portland Weird – and it is, in the best way! This hotel was everything we expected to find in Portland, it’s an old school which has been converted into a hotel amongst other things including a brewery and a cinema. We stayed in the English Wing which is purpose built but you can stay in an old classroom complete with blackboard. I’d recommend the Beer 101 package if you’re staying at a McMenamins property, it includes a flight of 6 McMenamins beers and a Growler to fill with your favourite.
After check in we headed off into downtown Portland for lunch, we wanted to try the famous food trucks we had seen on TV, there are so many! One benefit of choosing lunch at these is that everyone can have something different, I tried out the Grilled Cheese Grill and had the Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese – the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. Richard tried the Whole Bowl, his meal was very healthy looking and he enjoyed it as well.
We headed over to Powell’s Books next, I could have spent all day in there. The store covers a full block and has 4 floors, it is huge. We had a quick look around but didn’t buy anything – I was tempted!
We really wanted to try a few of the pubs in town, one in particular Henry’s 12th Street Tavern which we had looked at the menu for prior to arriving and spotted a beer cheese soup, we had to give it a try. We expected it would be pretty weird but it tasted so good! We only got a cup to share but we could have had a full bowl I’ve no doubt, definitely try it if you’re in the city.
We went on to visit a couple more of the bars in town before heading back to the hotel, Fat Heads and the highlight of the afternoon – the Multnomah Whiskey Library. Now I’m not a whiskey fan but Richard loves it and what a place this is, it’s like an old boys club with 1000 whiskeys lining the walls, reached by rolling ladders, and over 600 other spirits for us none whiskey fans, I actually had a cider, Alpenfire Calypso, which was really good. We arrived at opening – not intentionally but I’d recommend doing so – apparently there is usually a wait to be seated but we got right in. Our bar person was called Amy and she was great, it really helped having her guide us through the menu which is roughly the same size of an Argos catalogue.
“I like whiskey, but I’m no expert. I needed some help so I asked the server Amy about local whiskeys. First I had a single malt from Portland itself Westward Single Malt. Single malts are rare in that part of the world and they only sold this brand in the state at that time, so I was keen to try what might be a one off. It was particularly good, shame I might never get to have it again. The second was more typical American rye whiskey Henry Du Yores Rye Whiskey from Sheridan Oregon. I’ve never tried a rye whiskey before but it was really good. Not quite as smooth as the single malt. I could have stayed longer but I think I would have blown our whole budget in one afternoon.”
We had dinner at McMenamins and it was at this point we had our flights of beer which includes 6 small beers amounting to approximately 2 pints. Our favourite was the Hammer Head but there’s something for just about everyone, a good range of flavours. For dinner Richard had the lobster mac and I had the principals special pizza, we even had dessert brownie for me and whiskey bread pudding for Richard, the food here is very good.
We loved Portland and really wished we had booked more than just the one night stay – our return visit is already booked and we’ll be staying at the Kennedy School again!