Archive for August, 2015

Saturday in Portland

August 16, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are having a nice weekend.

Yesterday was my day off in Portland. I woke up early and walked down to Pine State Biscuits restaurant, about a half hour away. The line was very long so I decided to go elsewhere. WP_20150815_10_52_54_ProI chatted with my sister on the phone and walked up SE Division street. I found a french place and ate quiche for breakfast there. After breakfast, I walked around a bit more and browsed some shops and made it back to my airbnb. I took the car and headed to the Portland Farmer’s Market at PSU. WP_20150815_13_54_22_ProThe market was really cool. I sampled all sorts of local treats, drank a big glass of kombucha, and purchased some salami.

After the farmers market, which closed at 2, I drove to Cannon Beach. The drive took an hour and a half and was beautiful, through the hilly forest. The hills go right up to the coast. I got a little frustrated at the drivers. WP_20150815_15_53_01_ProI wonder if, in Oregon driving school, they teach people that the left lane is a passing lane. The beach was beautiful and the town of Cannon Beach was very cute.

I found a good parking space and walked around the beach. I thought it was going to be too cold to swim (someone mentioned that), so I didn’t bring beach clothes or a towel. But after walking in the water for a little, I couldn’t resist. Swimming in the ocean is one of my favorite activities of all time. So I dropped my bag near a family that looked nice, and went swimming in my undergarments. WP_20150815_15_59_05_Pro I swam right next to Haystack rock. It was so refreshing. I’ve been feeling a little sad and stressed, and this was an instant fix, at least for the rest of the day.

I didn’t spend too long in the water -there’s always a risk that my bag would be stolen. I got out and found a place on the beach without too many people and “changed” in the most appropriate way I could. Then filled my water bottle and drove home. I ate beef jerkey on the ride home and listened to some good radio stations. The drive back felt much shorter than the drive to.

WP_20150816_08_44_53_ProI got home around 7:30 and headed out to dinner, this time in NW Portland at a popular restaurant, Peruvian place called Andino. I got a killer parking space right outside the restaurant and didn’t have to wait at all for a seat at the bar. The food was pretty authentic. When they brought my cebiche, I saw that it didn’t have canchitas on it, the way it is traditionally served in Peru. I told the bartender that the cebiche needed some of these little corn snacks, he brought some right over! Hooray! For dessert, I had a homemade alfajor and got to taste some boozy milkshake because the bartender made too much for someone else.

After dinner, I walked around the Pearl district for a little, and then drove back. I wanted to try this interesting Japanese and Korean bar, but it was closed, so I parked at my airbnb and walked around Belmont street for a little before heading home.

Today I ate a nice breakfast at Cricket cafe, and now am about to leave to go to California. I’ve really enjoyed Portland and home to come back.

Love, Annie

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Working days in Portland

August 15, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been a productive and fun two days in Portland. WP_20150813_06_09_17_ProYesterday I woke up early and went on a jog through Laurelhurst park, a nice park right near my airbnb. I saw some beautiful scenery and a raccoon, from which I carefully moved away. There were also a lot of people sleeping in the park. For the workday, WP_20150813_12_53_32_Promy first stop was Safeway. I spent all morning at Safeway. After Safeway, I drove to the Pioneer square area where I found more important outlets. I walked through a cool food truck area and ate sushi for lunch. WP_20150813_20_28_12_ProAfter more work in the afternoon, I went to a restaurant called “Ox” for dinner. Ox is Argentinian food x Portland food. It was an excellent meal. I had oysters, squid and octopus salad, house made chorizo, and blistered green beans.

wp_20150814_14_36_09_proToday I woke up early but did not go for a run. I went to a coffee shop for breakfast and work, and then worked all day. In the afternoon I visited the Japanese Gardens and the Rose Gardens on Portland’s west side. Both were excellent. WP_20150814_15_46_54_ProI forgot to mention – for lunch, I went to a restuarant called Harlow that served vegetarian food and smoothies. Someone who worked there called me “ladybug.” I liked that – it was a very welcoming place. They served an item that was priced on a sliding scale because they believe that everyone deserves a warm, organic meal but some people cannot afford the standard bowl. What a cool establishment.

In the evening, I went to a wine bar called Noble Rot, which was recommended by my uncle’s friend. WP_20150814_18_28_48_ProNoble Rot is on the fourth floor of a building and has a great view. I tried a flight of Pinot Noirs and then Rose. For food, I had some Padron peppers (kind of like Shishito peppers – some are spicy – but fatter) and some ricotta cheese toast. A lot of the produce used at Noble Rot (the herbs in the Ricotta AND the peppers, in my meal) is grown on the roof of the building. MM!

Later in the evening, I took a walk back to WP_20150814_21_39_49_ProCascade barrel house to get some dessert beer and ended up trying a few more. I’m really liking Portland with its unisex bathrooms and friendly people. It’s a very easy place to be. Kind of seems like Allston, MA but with wider streets, more respectful people, and cleaner.

Tomorrow I plan to head to a biscuit place for breakfast and then to Cannon beach. Hope you have a nice weekend!

Love, Annie

Hello Portland!

August 13, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope all is well. I woke up this morning in Calgary and did some work, then flew to Portland! WP_20150812_16_10_38_ProAt the airport and at the PDX rental car desk, there were lots of lines.

The majority of the first half of the day was spent waiting in lines. Finally I “checked into” another airbnb. This one is in a residential neighborhood called Sunnyside. WP_20150812_19_21_54_ProI’m excited to be in Portland – some of my best friends went to school here and I’ve heard quite a bit about the city.

I had an ambitious afternoon and evening. First I drove to Reed College and walked around there for a while. WP_20150812_19_56_33_ProThen I dropped my car back at “home” and went for a long walk. I visited the Cascade Brewery for the sour beers. I tasted 6 different beers. I’ll go back another time and have a full one. Then I walked to a restaurant called Pok Pok and had southeast Asian food. WP_20150812_21_31_30_ProThe wings were delicious. At Pok Pok I drank the “Pok Pok Michelada,” which was excellent. I walked back in the dark and was happy to have brought my flashlight. Now I’m exhausted. Tomorrow will be a full work day.

Love, Annie

Banff National Park

August 12, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

This morning I woke up early, did some work, and then had a meeting. Around lunch time, I drove west into the Canadian Rockies to visit Banff National Park. WP_20150811_13_17_38_ProIt takes about an hour and a half to get to Banff National Park from Calgary. I don’t have a car at home so it’s fun to drive on survey. Halfway through the journey I figured out that the car had XM radio. YES!!! I love The Groove (channel 50), 90’s on 9, and Classic Vinyl. On the road, it was extremely exciting to see the mountains in the distance. And even more exciting to be in them.

WP_20150811_15_51_48_ProFirst stop was Banff town (pictured above). It was a very crowded ski town. I had expected it to be a little less crazy, not sure why. I decided to have lunch there and found a pizza and beer place with a patio and sat outside. The pizza had mushrooms and pesto and the beer was a local pale ale. There are a lot of Australians in Banff town. I walked around a tiny bit and then headed west again for Lake Louise (pictured above).

WP_20150811_17_00_08_ProIt was very cool to see Lake Louise for real. It took about a half hour to drive there from Banff town. I did a short hike, one mile up and one mile back, to a lookout. Then I went to the shore and sat for a little. There weren’t many people on the little hike, but there were a lot of people at the shore. Lots of people in RVs. Lake Louise is an interesting color, almost like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

WP_20150811_17_02_38_ProAfter Lake Louise, I went to Moraine Lake (two pictures of Moraine Lake), which was still kind of crowded but much more peaceful. I walked one length of the lake and on the walk filled my water bottle with fast moving water from some streams. After the walk I hung out for a while around the lake. The access road to and from Moraine Lake was fun and winding. My dad would like it as a great motorcycle road.

WP_20150810_20_55_25_ProAfter Moraine Lake I drove back to Calgary. It was already 9 pm by the time I got settled so I decided not to go out for dinner. The lunch pizza a was pretty big anyway. Tomorrow I’ll work in the morning and then head to Portland! This was a short and sweet trip to Canada. Hope all is well with you.

Love, Annie

Back to Calgary

August 11, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope all is well. I’m back in Calgary! It’s the first stop on a short survey. During this trip I’ll also visit Portland OR, San Ramon CA, and San Francisco CA. wp_20150810_18_59_12_proIt’s been four years since I came to Calgary on my first ever survey. I only vaguely remember Calgary from that first survey. I’m much better at navigating cities now having visited ~100 since my last trip here.

I flew out of Boston this morning and transited through Chicago. The layover was only 35 minutes long so there was no time to hang out in O’Hare and I had to sprint across terminal C to catch the flight. The flights were easy. I read last week’s Economist (got to catch up), nodded off pretty hard a few times, and drank tomato juice. wp_20150810_18_59_22_proIn Calgary, the rental car company ran out of GPS units, but I found the airbnb just fine. Going downtown is not that complicated although there was significant traffic.

The airbnb condo is on the 18th floor of a moderately fancy apartment building. It’s clean, it’s bigger and nicer than my apartment at home, and the woman I’m renting from is very good at communication.

I did some work in the afternoon (surveying is not my job now, so I must take care of other work from the road) and then had a good wander. I found a tapas restaurant in the “beltline” district and had dinner. I sat at a bar that faced the street, a perfect vantage point. wp_20150810_20_00_46_proI read and watched people walk by. The best things I had were meatballs and rose sangria.

Midway through the meal looked up the Canadian dollar. I assumed the rate was around 1-1 or 1-1.15. The Canadian dollar is weaker than I imagined (currently 1 USD is nearly 1.3 CAD) so I had a very indulgent meal and even ordered dessert and espresso. Tomorrow I’ll wake up early for work and a meeting.

Love, Annie