This trip was some very much needed de-stressing time for me. I didn't want to have anything to stress over or worry about while I was there. I didn't want to *have to* do anything--I didn't blog, I didn't run, I didn't count Points--and it was wonderful. (Spoiler: I also didn't gain any weight while I was there, which I'm thrilled about. I ate intuitively, and it worked out perfectly.)
I didn't want to have to think about anything or make decisions on this trip--so Thomas had everything planned out, and I didn't know anything that we were doing until we got there. That way, everything was a surprise, which made it that much more fun.
Here is the general rundown of my trip :)
Jerry drove me to the airport and dropped me off. When I was in line to check my bag, I realized that I didn't have my driver's license--total panic. I called Jerry and told him to go get my passport, and bring it to the airport ASAP. Long story short, after about 40 minutes, I asked an employee if anyone had turned in my license, and someone HAD. I was so relieved. It must have fallen out of my bag when I was digging out my confirmation number.
I flew from Detroit to Minneapolis, and then from Minneapolis to Portland. From the airport in Portland, Thomas had given me very good directions (knowing that I'm TERRIBLE at finding my way around) to take the MAX (a train) to his office building. He was waiting outside when I got there, and I actually had no trouble finding it! It had been nearly a year since I saw Thomas, who has become one of my closest friends, so it was a fun reunion (complete with a Jerry face! I can't wait until Jerry and Thomas get to meet next month in Indy, because several people have said they look alike).
He showed me his office, and then we headed out to get some food and beer at Shanghai Tunnel, where we ordered noodle bowls. (The whole time in Portland, I just ordered exactly what Thomas did, because I wanted to try his favorite stuff--and again, no decision-making. I'm not picky, and it seems we have the same sort of tastes for food, so it worked out great. I tried lots of new things, and there wasn't anything I didn't like!)
Thomas's friend, Laurel, was going to meet us there, and I was actually really nervous to meet her. She was a reader of my blog before Thomas was, but I'd never met her in person and I don't know her very well. I always get nervous about meeting new people, but she ended up being super nice and easy to chat with! So the three of us went to Voodoo Doughnut afterward, where I told the guy working there to just give me his personal favorite doughnut.
When we left there, we went to another bar to chat for a little bit before Laurel had to leave. Thomas and I chatted until about 1:00 AM (which is 4:00 Eastern time for me!), but I was so wound up and excited to be there that I wasn't really all that tired.
Early Saturday morning, I had plans to meet up with some blog readers! I had gotten emails from a few people who were interested in meeting up, so I chose Starbucks at 7:00 on Saturday. I wasn't sure who would show up (if anyone), and I was really nervous to go, but I was looking forward to it as well. Laurel picked me up from Thomas's at 6:40, and we went to Starbucks.
Three more readers ended up meeting us there, and even though I was really nervous, everyone was SO nice and I felt comfortable almost instantly. We chatted for about an hour and a half, and then took a group photo before leaving.
|Katie, Emma, me, Mary, and Laurel|
So, we went to the mall, where I bought Brandon some Legos and a video game, and then we ate at the food court. Brandon said his very favorite food is Panda Express Orange Chicken, so I told him that he could order for me--I'd get whatever he chose. He chose Orange Chicken and chow mein. I had never actually eaten at Panda Express before, and it was really good! Brandon chose well ;)
After lunch, we went to play laser tag. I was really nervous about it, because I'd never played before and wasn't sure what to expect. Long story short, I wasn't crazy about laser tag. I felt incredibly awkward and unsure of myself, so after that first game, I sat out while Thomas and Brandon played a few more. Brandon LOVES laser tag, and he and Thomas were quite competitive ;)
After laser tag, we went to dinner at Killer Burger. I tried Thomas's favorite, the Peanut Butter Pickle Bacon Burger. I never, in a thousand years, would have tried it if Thomas hadn't raved about it; but I'm always excited to try new things, so that's what I ordered. It was a burger patty with peanut butter sauce, bacon, mayo, onions, and pickles. I wish I'd have taken a picture! It was SOOO amazing. I couldn't stop talking about it for a full 48 hours after that.
After dinner, we all met up with a couple of Thomas's friends, Lucian and Timeea (and Timeea's service-dog-in-training, Bengee) for bowling at SuperPlay. Timeea has a spinal cord injury, and she's been training Bengee as a service dog to help her get around (she described it as using him as a "cane"). It was interesting to watch Bengee try bowling! ;)
I was throwing gutter ball after gutter ball at first, and Brandon was very excited that he was going to beat me. And then after about the fourth or fifth frame, I started doing much better. Toward the end of the game, I actually threw three strikes in a row! That was my first-ever turkey.
We bowled two games, and then let Brandon play some video games before we had to take him back to his foster home. It was such a fun day! I adore Brandon, and I'm hoping that maybe next year Thomas can bring him to Michigan and we can go to Cedar Point.
We made it an early night, since the Shamrock race was in the morning. It had been raining all day, and it wasn't looking like good weather for the race, either.
Sunday was race day. We had to get up fairly early and head out to the start of the race. It was pouring rain, which was a bummer for spectating. I left Thomas at the starting line; he'd given me very easy, very specific instructions to get to where I wanted to spectate at mile 2.75-ish. I just had to walk straight ahead until I got to Taylor Street, and then turn right and I'd hit the spot. Being horrible with directions, I ended up getting lost! I walked about a mile too far past Taylor, and by that time, it was too late to get there before Thomas ran by.
I texted his friend, Libbie, who we were planning to meet up with (and I'm bummed that I realized I never got a picture with Libbie--she was so nice!), and she eventually found me (I had walked back to the finish line). We stood at the finish line, making noise for the runners as they came through:
There weren't very many spectators, probably due to the rain. Thomas finished right when he predicted he would, and shortly after that, the rain stopped. I was completely soaked, and so was he, so we went back to his place to dry off before meeting Libbie for lunch and post-race celebration. Thomas had been insistent that I wear green, so I made sure to really play up the green for the day:
Thomas knows that I like boneless wings, so we went to a place called Fire On The Mountain Buffalo Wings. We were starving, so we got a bunch of wings and fried pickles to share. The wings were good, and I wanted to keep eating beyond being full, but I also knew we'd be having some beer throughout the afternoon, so I didn't want to be stuffed.
When we left there, we went to a bar called Yard House that had a crazy-huge beer list. I tasted two that Thomas thought I may like (I'm not a big beer person, but there are some that I do like), and settled on a blueberry one. And by "settled", I mean I totally committed to it:
|Why, yes, it was windy outside... why do you ask?|
After hanging out there for a while, we headed to the MAX. I started to notice that so many people were wearing green; and about 80% of them (including Thomas) were wearing a similar-looking green scarf. After questioning Thomas and Libbie for a minute, I learned we were going to a Timbers game! Thomas made me think all the green was for St. Patrick's Day, but it was for the Timber's game--very clever.
I'm not a sports fan, but soccer is one sport that interests me, and I'd never been to a professional soccer game before. Thomas and Libbie explained that we were going to be sitting in the Timbers' "Army" section--which apparently meant some really hardcore fans. The atmosphere on the MAX, and when we got to the stadium, was almost electric--you could feel the buzz of people's excitement (or maybe that was the half-yard of beer I drank, haha!).
The game was indescribable. The fans were SO much fun to watch! They do these cheers and chants throughout the entire game, and it was awesome to be a part of it. My only regret is not taking pictures there!
After the game, we said good-bye to Libbie, and then we had a pretty mellow night. We had a couple more drinks while we watched the rough cut of the From Fat to Finish Line documentary, and then some old episodes of Roseanne (love that show!).
On Monday, we did another first for me: a hike! I'd actually never been hiking before, but it's something I've been very interested in doing. We went to Eagle Creek, with a packed lunch for midway through the hike. I didn't know how far we'd be going, but I guessed probably six miles or so.
Hahaha, nearly halfway through, Thomas told me it was actually about 14 miles round-trip! But it was SO GORGEOUS and so much fun. I took some photos, but they don't do it justice at all. The scenery was breathtaking.
|Despite how it looks, I was not chillaxing on this rock;|
I had just fallen hard on my ass and nearly slid into the
waterfall! I misjudged how slippery it was.
|I love all the different shades of green!|
Here is a video of a stream we had to cross. Crossing was much harder than it looks! Although, Thomas didn't do a great job crossing here--luckily, I was videoing him ;)
It took us nearly 5 1/2 hours to walk 13.9 miles. I felt surprisingly really good afterward! My feet were achey, but other than that, I felt okay. (That never would have happened six years ago! I never would have even agreed to go for a hike then.)
It was dinnertime, so we quickly went back to Thomas's to change our socks and shoes, which were wet. Then we went to dinner at McMenamins. Dinner was a chicken caesar wrap (SO good), cajun tater tots, and a raspberry beer called Ruby. I can't even describe how wonderful these tots were!
I was starving, and ate a ton of them, but considering I walked 14 miles, I didn't feel the slightest bit guilty. I was pretty full after dinner, because the food was so good that it was hard to stop eating.
We went back to Thomas's, and had another drink (okay, a couple... but hey, it was vacation!), and chatted. Then the craziest thing happened. We were watching a few comedian clips on YouTube, and one of the recommended videos that popped up was called "Portland Oregon: Things to do and see". It was really cheesy, but a couple of minutes in, the host woman interviewed a woman in line for Voodoo Doughnut. I nearly screamed, because IT WAS PAIGE! Paige is our "Sole Mate"--a member of our Ragnar team--so she's a mutual friend of ours, but she lives in Idaho! How crazy is that? I showed the screen shot to Paige, and she had never seen that video before--it was pretty funny.
Thomas took me to the airport early Tuesday morning, which was a bummer. I wanted to stay longer! I flew from Portland to Minneapolis, and then from Minneapolis to Detroit. As I was getting off the plane in Detroit (after a LONG travel day), I saw Becky, my brother Brian's wife! I was shocked. Neither of us knew we were on the same flight.
So, now I'm home again. I had a fantastic time in Portland, and I can't wait to go there again someday. I met some really amazing people, had so much fun, and now I'm feeling recharged for getting back to "real life" ;)