I’m on a layover in Houston.
This really is the armpit of America. (Or is that Cleveland? I’ve got a layover there, next week.)
Now that I’ve dipped my toe back into American culture – this is my first time back in the United States for two years – I’m yearning to get back to Portland. To make my suffering exquisite, I’m counting the ways I love Portland while I wait to return.
1. Powell’s Books
The iconic city-block-sized bookstore is one of my favorite places to get lost for hours.
4 floors of used and new books, across a wide variety of subjects, all laid out for bibliophiles to drool over.
Wandering through the aisles, I chanced across full translations of the Nag Hammadi, a biography of George Bernard Shaw, and a vintage edition of Maus, none of which I would have found shopping on Amazon.
2. Corepower Yoga
Dim lights, big mirrors, smooth floors, and hot, sweaty yoga.
My favorite way to exercise.
Every class I have ever taken at Corepower Yoga has given me a workout, and being a big flexible male acrobat, a challenging yoga class is hard to come by.
Many studios keep all intermediate-and-below classes at a moderate level, but even the beginner;s classes at Corepower Yoga give me a big sweat. (I’ll be there this Friday at 9:30 if you want to join me.)
3. New Seasons
Twice a week, my family and I would shop at New Seasons when we lived in Portland, and it was always an exercise in abundance.
Oh, you’ve got a gluten allergy and you eat GMO-free – how about some lollipops? A salad bar? Pizza and ice cream?
The staff at the Arbor Lodge store became genuine friends of my family, because it lives up to it’s tagline – the ‘nicest store in town.’
4. Anna Bannanas
My enchantment with Anna Bannanas goes back to when they first opened their St. Johns store, and I wrote a novel in their front window.
They didn’t have many customers, being a new coffee shop (in this location, anyways – they had a store in Northwest) and I was trying to make it as a freelance writer.
To get a change of pace from my home office, I came to Anna’s every day to write for a few hours in the morning. One winter I wrote a novel in that cafe, and it’s always held a special place in my heart ever since.
Plus, their coffee and food is great, and they have a kids play area. And they serve beer. We spent many a happy evening drinking and playing in that public house, and I’m looking forward to going back.
5. Fish Tale Ale
This IPA has sunk it’s hook into my heart.
Bright and hoppy, with a light body and full, round flavor, this beer is the reason I once decided to get a beer gut.
While living in Costa Rica, I have had to satisfy myself with pale lagers brewed by German expatriates.
Soon, I will be able to drink my favorite beer again, and I don’t expect to remember much of the experience.
6. Old Friends
For someone without a lot of roots, knowing a pal for a few years counts for a heavier proportion. I’m lucky enough to get lots of my friends together for Huntress Happy Hour, and I’m expecting a grand old time.
I retired from Parkour for two reasons:
- I’m getting older, and my penchant for finding daring and death-defying architecture to climb was not slowing down with my advancing age; and
- The architecture in Costa Rica is laughably unstable.
I’ve spent the past couple of months in some light training, so when I revisit Portland, I can get a few dash vaults on my favorite obstacles.
8. St Johns Bridge
I’ve got a love affair with this bridge.
I sort-of climbed it once. (It’s a long story.)
9. World Domination Summit
I’m really excited to go to this 3-day conference. You can read why on my other blog.
10. Urban Planning
Living in Central America, I can see firsthand what happens when you don’t have good urban planning.
The traffic in Costa Rica is a mess, and it’s totally difficult to get around and make things happen.
Portland, by contrast, has well laid out streets, incredible public transportation, and the flow just happens…easier, in Portland.
Coming from the jungles of Costa Rica into an urban core, I’m fully expecting some culture shock.