Returning to the Hotel de Luxe late Friday afternoon, we decided that after a short nap we would find a nice bar to watch televised basketball and enjoy a drink before dinner. Our rented Dutch bikes were stored in the hotel garage for the next day's adventure so we chose to walk up the hill to the Rose District or the Nob Hill area.
While waiting for the light to change at the street corner, Planner Guy asked the woman waiting next to us for a bar recommendation. "I'm going to a one right now", she said and invited us to follow her. Along with way we exchanged our stories. We were visiting from Flagstaff and loved the Pacific Northwest and she, Amber, had lived in Portland for several years and loved it. Amber gave us the run down on the neighborhood and some suggestions on places to eat and visit while we were in town - it seems everyone in Portland has a long list of things the visitor should see and do. Once we arrived at the packed little pub, she asked us what we did in Flagstaff. We told her that we both worked in local government. "Then you must meet my friend John! He works for the Portland Development Corporation and loves to talk about Portland". Before we knew it we had made plans to meet her and John, who she contacted by cell, at the Cup and Saucer, located back in Hawthorne, where we would be going anyway to return our bikes. We expressed our amazement to Amber that she was offering her time to two complete strangers. She laughed and said "That's just the way people are here."
The next day, Amber arrived at the Cup and Saucer with John, who does indeed work for the PDC in public affairs. As described he couldn't have held Portland in any higher esteem and seemed to have his finger on the pulse of everything that was happening and on the horizon. Since PDC is a major planning and economic development arm for the City of Portland, Planner Guy and John had no end of stories and ideas about city planning and economic development to exchange. Like the cities where we came from in the Midwest, Portland has very distinct neighborhoods with which the City has actively worked to maintain bragging rights as the bike commuting capital of the US. The distinction was years in the making, 10 - 15 years, giving me hope for Flagstaff (and that other city where I once lived).
While we chatted we made no short order of polishing off our breakfasts. Amber told us the Cup and Saucer served a really good breakfast, and that wasn't the half of it! My ginger buckwheat pancakes (stack of two huge pancakes) were so good I completely forgot that I would love to loose 8 pounds. Along with turkey sausage (seasoned with something I couldn't put my finger on), I ate every last bite and forgot to offer Bob a single bite. Not that he was paying any attention. He ate a fragrant egg concoction, with delicious home fries (which I did sample), and biscuits. Coffee? Yes. Lots of it and at just the right strength. I felt no guilt or shame. In fact, nobody at the Cup and Saucer seemed at all worried about diet or their waistline (and really, when you bike and walk everywhere, there is little reason to worry about weight and fitness).
After a couple of hours of great conversation, we said our goodbyes and thanked them for their company. Is everyone this friendly in Portland? Could be . . . only the day before another, complete stranger had stopped on his bike and inquired if we needed directions (we did). We wondered why on earth we hadn't made plans to stay until Monday? John had offered to introduce me to the author of a Portland bike commuting blog I follow! If only we had rented the bikes for 2 days instead of one.
With an hour to go before the bike were due, Bob and I stopped at an Italian grocer before heading back to Clevercycles. The Italian boy cannot be separated real prosciutto. "Are you getting pictures of this?" he asked anxiously. Why would I do anything else.
Pedaling down Hawthorne Avenue, it started to rain lightly. Though the tiny droplets slid down my sunglasses I had no difficulty seeing and the considerate drivers actually slowed and gave me extra room on the road.
Ahead of me Bob pointed to the right corner. A zoobomb?! I believe it was. Thank God for digital camera and roomy memory cards. It was hard to picture life sized adults flying down the hill on these tiny bikes and surviving but apparently this is what happens. A definite must see for the next trip to Portland
Upon checking in our bikes at Clevercycles we walked back over the bridge and back up to our hotel. We stopped by Powells for browsing, Stumptown Coffee for a warm up, the Saturday open market for some local color, visited the world's smallest park, and finally refueled with Italian, as Bob couldn't get pasta out of his mind. We ate exhausted but satisfied.