eptember 14th, 2011-
After I had my 5am garbage truck wake-up call from the city of Seattle, I went back to sleep until 9am and then headed downtown on the King County Metro to catch the Big Pink Bus. King County was renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. county in the ’80s after discovering that William Rufus King, Vice president in 1853, after whom the county was originally named, was a transvestite and homosexual. Here’s a portait of him, I’ll let you decide this one yourself:
I got a nice Grey Line tour of the city to get my bearings and ended up back at the Space Needle/Seattle Center.
Gray Line Big Pink Bus Photos:
Editor’s Note: Although I appreciate Grey Line’s contribution to breast cancer research, the name “Big Pink Bus” is not a selling point. Don’t ever tell anyone you took a ride on the “big pink bus”. I prefer the “Grey Line Tourbus”
-September 13th, 2011-
After getting in late on the 13th, I headed downtown from the airport to the Queen Anne District. A confusing, big city nighttime adventure to say the least, I would give Seattle an 8 out of 10 on the Genuine Bum Urine (GBU) chart with New York a 1o of 10. Most of Seattle stunk of it unfortunately. I got to speak with a few cool homeless guys and some German tourists along the way. Queen Anne for me was a quiet neighborhood (except for the obligatory 5am armageddeonesque garbage trucks that rouse you from a dead sleep) adjacent to the Key Arena with lots of cools bars, restaurants, eccentrics, etc. My hotel, the Mediterranean, Is a locally owned chain with the #2 cityview in the world according to Tripadvisor so I headed up to the observation deck to snap some Seattle Skyline pics. I really liked the Med, it was exceptionally cheap, clean, and well maintained for being downtown, AC was extra but unneeded with nighttime temp around 60 degrees, and lots of cool folks and a great staff. One old lady was berating one of the nicer staff members about the air conditioned rooms being extra, little did she know that she was in Seattle, and when she awoke she would see her breath if the windows were open.
Woke up at the buttcrack of dawn to take the F streetcar to catch the Napa Valley Wine Tour bus down at the Ferry Building. The city was beautiful and foggy and somewhat quiet in the morning. We headed out across the Golden Gate towards Napa and I got in a few Patel Shots of the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz island.
And the beautiful Sausalito.
We finally started seeing some vines
First stop was Andretti
The light in Napa Valley was close to perfect
Behind the trees is the French Laundry
Opus One at High Speed
Next stop was V. Sattui. They had some great wines and the only Madeira I ever liked. It was excellent and made from a 100 year old Solera.
After lunch at the V. Sattui gourmet deli we went over to Whitehall Lane. This winery had a blend similar to Opus One for about a third of the price. It was OK in my uneducated opinion. They had some nice wines and dessert wines.
Whitehall Lane gave us a great education in the winemaking process. We learned that some french oak barrels cost $1100 each. Therefore some wine is very expensive.
55 degrees @ 76% humidity for 18-24 months is expensive too.
We got to see several of the Napa Valley AVAs: Yountville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Oakville
Our last stop was Franciscan
After the tour we had a nice ferry ride back from Mare Island to the city to catch some views of the Golden Gate and downtown.
Pok Pok was great, had their world famous fish sauce wings and the best Thai noodles I have ever had. The Green Dragon pub/brewery was great and had my first sour beers at Cascade brewery across the street. Also, got lost and crossed a closed bridge and met a man living there wearing women’s clothes who gave me directions in broken English. Portlanders are very helpful no matter how weird they are.
I got in around 3pm on the train from Vancouver and headed up to the Pearl District. I meandered about until I found the Rogue Brewery. I met my bartender Chris, who ended up being from Cookeville and friends with my friend and former sales manager Brad Woods.
I sampled many stouts and porters and had their signature “bleu balls” Kobe beef filled with Rogue creamery blue cheese.
I down the street to Deschutes Brewery and had a sampler. Their Black Butte Porter is excellent. I did a summary look at Powell’s and took the Max back to my hotel.
Headed down to Southeast Portland this afternoon to go on the Distillery Tour with my Distillery Row Passport: http://distilleryrowtours.com/ I stopped by Lloyd Center for the Portland Retro Gaming Expo but I wasn’t nerdy enough to get in (they also wanted $20)
The Distillery Row passport is a great way to sample some great small batch liquors at a low price ($20 for 6 distilleries) 4 of the distilleries are along 20 blocks in SE Portland within walking distance so it makes for a great afternoon. The distillers are on-site in some locations and have a real love for their craft which definitely come through in the product. I had some delicious gins and vodkas and even some excellent absinthe. I was most impressed with this Subrosa saffron infused vodka which tastes like an Indian meal in a bottle. It was served with Mango juice and was delicious.
I also had a delicious Ginger liquor from New Deal.
New Deal also has a delicious coffee liquor and a 5 pepper liquor called Hot Monkey.
On the way to House Spirits I had Australian pasties for lunch with boysenberry soda from Hot Lips.
I stopped by the Rogue headquarters as they were unveiling their new Voodoo Donut Maple Bacon Porter complete with pink bottle.
This guy was riding his unicycle out front. In a kilt. Playing the bagpipes. Wearing a “keeping Portland weird” tshirt.
This guy made my day.
Deco. A real loser. poor service. I left.
House. Nice Aquavit and selection of unusual mixers.
I dropped by the Lucky Labrador Brewery for their Dogtoberfest, which was, a lot of dogs and their owners, both drinking beer.
I took the bus over to the food cart pod on SE Belmont and had dinner at Lardo. Pork belly and egg on ciabatta. Ginger creme brulee for dessert.
September 23rd, 2011 Portland, OR
Woke up mid-morning to the official first day of Fall with beautiful sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. I hopped on the Tri-Max and the bus headed to SE Portland as I had left my debit card at the Green Dragon on Thursday. My Green Dragon bartender Russ, who was very kind and informative, gave me a free beer for coming back to get it. He also showed me the gigantic keg cooler/cold storage for the on-site brewery which was pretty neat. I took the bus over to downtown and meandered through downtown on the way. I found another food cart pod and had some Reindeer sausage and salami hash for lunch. I caught the Max up to Overlook Park
I went all the way up to the expo center to scout the area. On the way back down I got a picture of Mt. Hood and went to check out Fire on the Mountain and the Alibi, an infamous Portland landmark and Tiki bar/dive.
I ended the day with a beautiful Portland Sunset at the Rose Arena ( and free Mentos) and a trip to the Ikea Megastore/Small City.