I was already thinking as early as March that I wanted to get out of Austin and head to the northwest in the heat of the Texas summer – I get so sick of the heat here by the time the late summer rolls around. And then I happened across the Cascades Gran Fondo bike tour on some random facebook posting and thought, ‘Hey, that looks like fun’. Ok, so I’ve got a travel bike. Let’s do this thing.

At first I thought I might just plan a long weekend and as I got to planning things it quickly ended up being a whole week. By the time you fly to Portland and rent a car, you might as well take a little time and see a few things, right? At least that was my reasoning. So here goes. My blog posting summary(ies) of the best finds along the way. Your mileage may vary. Let’s start with Portland.

Portland

I wasn’t really in Portland all that long. I flew in on a Thursday evening and left the following morning. On the way back, I passed through on the way to the airport to fly home. Even so, I managed to catch two places I’d highly recommend if you’re passing through and are hankering for breakfast or lunch.

The first was the Bijou Cafe for breakfast. I met up with Jacque and Chris there and had an excellent omelet. I got the mushroom and ‘Bravo Cheddar’ omelet. Somehow I managed to walk in and find one table open. Just after snagging it, a line was already forming. While we were seated inside, the weather was great and they had the door open so it was a really pleasant spot.

On the way back through Portland as I was headed home at the end of the week, I met up with Blake at Clarklewis for some lunch. This is a place I’d been for lunch a few times before on business trips. It’s in the ‘Industrial District’ and if you didn’t know better you’d just say it looked like an old warehouse loading dock – which of course it was at some point in the past. I had a salad and the steelhead. Included some potatoes. Tasty. I really like this place and it’s just off the I5 freeway that runs through the center of the city.

I would be remiss if I didn’t recount at least some of my overnight stay in Portland before heading south to Bend. To cut to the chase, I chose a ‘home stay’ in the heart of Portland as my overnight stay. I’ll gloss over how such a home stay is arranged. Google it. I found a loft apartment in the Pearl District. The photo here is of the courtyard just outside the place. Note the artwork and the people. As it turned out, August 2nd was a Thursday – and in fact First Thursday in Portland. The place was hopping. Music. Drinks. Lots of people. My host for the evening was in fact the caterer for the food/drinks in the courtyard.

This was all fun and interesting until about 11pm when things started to wind down. Very fine by me considering the long flight to Portland and the 2 hour time change. It was 1am Austin time. But the interesting thing was that my host and many of the other denizens of this complex kept a little party going in the courtyard. It kept going and going and going. I was beat and nodded off quickly. By 3am though, I woke up. Keep in mind I’m in a loft apartment. The floor plan is entirely open. There’s one bathroom that’s next to where I’m trying to sleep. The party goers are starting to line up to use the bathroom. One by one. One after the other. 3am. 4am. 5am. Eventually even my host and his buddy crashed and only the sound of snoring could be heard. But of course by then on Austin time it was 7am. My body said ‘get up’. Sigh.

I contemplated making a lot of noise on the way out but instead just packed my things and loaded the car. Plenty of time on my hands before my planned meetup at the Bijou Cafe, so I walked a few blocks and grabbed excellent coffee and free wifi at Backspace.

Portland’s always fun – and the food and coffee great – but I was ready to head for Bend. In fact, mostly what I wanted to do was get to Bend and take a nap on the porch. By the time I hit the road though, I had enough caffeine coursing through me I never did get that nap. On to Bend…