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Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Foray into Oregon

I've been to Oregon before, but not this deep. The farthest I've gone is to Astoria, which if you don't know, is on the very tip of the state. Well, this time I wanted to go to Portland (oooh, so much deeper). I'd been wanting to see it for a while, but never really had a reason to go. But then I kept hearing Voodoo Doughnut this and Voodoo Doughnut that, and I was like - FINE - doughnuts it is! Okay well, doughnuts are all fine and good, but don't really create a whole day's worth of activity. So, I added a stop to Cannon Beach. I'd heard from a friend how awesome it was there, so I decided to add that to the trip. Then, I started looking on Groupon and Living Social for any deals or things to do in Portland, and discover that Ivories Jazz Lounge was having a half off meal for two at their restaurant. Sold.

The trip itself was very boring so there's not a lot of ground to cover. I drove us down to Cannon Beach. We ate at the Driftwood Restaurant (both having Chowder sourdough bowls, which weren't as good as Duke's), walked across the street and bought a couple shot glasses at a gift shop, and then found our way to the beach. Unfortunately, the clouds were looming.

Haystack Rock
This has to be the most expensive view in Oregon

I wasn't used to seeing a beach that wasn't flat. It intrigued me that we were sea level, yet looked like we were up in the mountains (with the low clouds hanging onto the cliffs). If you go to Ocean Shores, everything is flat. The beach, the town, and everything up to it. Quite boring, really. And the sand is much grayer up there.

Anyway, so after we dumped the sand from our shoes, we headed to Portland. Justin drove this time, because I hate driving in big cities and I've heard horror stories of Portland. The drive to Portland was cool; a scenic drive through the mountains. I'm unsure of our elevations... I think at one point we were at 1500 feet. We were learning quickly about how people suck at driving in Oregon. On our way down to Cannon Beach I kept complaining about the slow drivers... we had one lane roads with an occasional passing lane up big hills, and it was almost torture. It was SPEED 55 and people were going 45, maybe 50 if we were traveling downhill. By the time Justin took over, we realized that this was going to be a trend. The best we could do to keep our sanity was make a running gag that all of Oregon was tl;dr with all their road signs. (For those not internet savvy, that's shorthand for "too long; didn't read".) It was hilarious. The signs we found included:

SPEED (In WA, we say "Speed Limit ____" In Oregon, it's just "Speed")
ELK (They say elk, yet have just a picture of a deer. Because, you know, we know what elks look like but we need a picture for deer)
and then, we saw:


Whoa, whoa! Too many words!

The funniest one though was whenever we would enter a work zone. In Washington, we've got a NOTICE: Traffic Fines Double In Work Zones. In Oregon, we would see 'FINES DOUBLE'. That's it. Short and to the point, I guess! Justin would make fun of the signs like "RIGHT LANE ENDS", he would say, "It should just say 'END'." - Hey, we had to keep entertained somehow!

So anyway, we get to Portland and realize that Damn, Voodoo Doughnut is like, popular.

We were waiting about 20 minutes in 80 degree heat. The sun was relentless - I'm surprised I didn't get a sunburn. Justin and I both agreed that we would never wait in this line for one doughnut. (When we left with our order, the line was even longer than it was when we got there, so obviously it stays this busy pretty much all day long). We ordered several different kinds of doughnuts. They really like to add cereal toppings and I'm all for that. I got one with Cpt'n Crunch, one with rice crispies, and one with Cocoa Puffs, plus several others.

The Review:
Our Groupon consisted of soup, salad, a glass of house wine (or $5 towards a glass), 2 entrees, and a shared dessert for $30, normally $60. The soup was carrot ginger. It was, um, okay. I chose the muscat wine cuz I need something super sweet in order for me to even be able to drink it. Justin got the Pinot Grigio, which was sweet but not sweet enough for my liking. Justin ordered the Jambalaya, and I got the Filet Mignon. The Jazz band began playing a bit later after we arrived and it was nice. Their drummer was blind, which was totally awesome. (Not that he was blind but, well, you know). When our food arrived, I became the critic. Not that I want to be - I go into restaurants with no preconceived notions. But I could see why the place needed a Groupon to drum up business, as it were. My filet was rare... I'd ordered medium rare. The red potatoes were under-cooked, and the green beans were basically just blanched and set on the plate (still very stratchy, almost raw). This was the first time I'd ever sent any food back in my entire life. And no, I wasn't an ass about it or anything. I could have eaten it rare - I wasn't that bugged by it. The reason I sent it back was to let the chef know to check his food before sending it out. They should know to temp, or at least judge by touching, how cooked a steak is. Justin's meal had a flaw as well: clumps of rice in his Jambalaya that weren't cooked all the way. My problem with this place was that these were rookie mistakes. I'm not talking about "oh, the sauce was too spicy for the beef" and shit. This was basic stuff, here. The dessert was good though. Justin said "Well, you can't really mess up a brownie sundae". I answered with "Well yeah you could - with the brownie!" At least it was only $30. I would have been very upset to pay $60 for that.

After that, Justin drove us home. The pavement really is quieter on the other side of the bridge, and that's not a metaphor! "People know how to drive here!" He said. Also, we made it about 400 miles before the gas light dinged at us. We still hadn't made it to Olympia, and of course my sophisticated computer likes to say "FUEL RANGE: LOW" when it gets to the point of panic. Thanks for the help, computer. I began to freak because the last thing we needed was to wait for a fuel up from Progressive at 10pm at night. So, we pulled into a Chevron and paid for just 2 gallons of gas - enough to get us home and to a less expensive option the next day. So, we basically did the entire trip on one tank of gas, which was pretty cool.

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