The Great NorthWest??

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I’ll admit it, I just don’t get it! What is the big deal about Portland/Vancouver? With all due respect to those who live in that area and love it, I seem to be missing the point. I mean, if I want urban blight and congestion and artificially inflated prices I’ll go to NYC, at least they know how to properly screw over the common man. And I won’t need to deal with a bunch of hipsters while getting humped.

Just … don’t … nope …
man bun, ears gauged, white sunglass frame
hipster beard, obscure neck tattoo
Just … no

Case in point: 

I’m here in Vancouver WA with Sheila on one of her business trips. She chewed up a bunch of Delta miles points so I could join her (that meant we had to fly coach class this time … more on THAT topic a little later). I like being with her (well, all the time) when she travels so I can make stuff a little easier for her (driving the car, carrying her luggage, getting her coffee in the morning) and we usually make some contacts with old friends while we’re in town, so it’s been a good deal.

We have been using these trips to do some donut comparison shopping. Sheila & I like to see what’s available in these various regions and every now and then we get a great surprise, i.e., Gibson’s Donuts in Memphis TN (just extraordinary!). Of course, our shining star comparison is The Donut Hole in Destin FL (so far the clear winner). We have recently retained a donut tasting expert, Hudson, (aka Huddy, aka bigbuddyhuddy) to weed out the imposters, so you know this comparison thing is serious.

The “big deal” donut place here in Portland area is VooDoo Donuts, but the inside track says that the hype is all hipster driven and that there were better places to go. So, using our slick donut research skills we found two shops that could complete with the hipster-loving VooDoo … Blue Star Donuts in Portland and Tonallis Donuts & Cream in Vancouver.

My first question for both of these places is this; If you are a donut shop, isn’t it logical to have some #@*!%+_&(*#! donuts on your shelves?? It’s Friday Morning at 9:45 am and neither of these two joints has any kind of donut variety available. “Wow, they’re sold out of almost everything”, hipsters intone while tugging on their abnormally large Paul-Bunyon-esque beards, angst-ridden foreheads furrowed as they attempt to understand the situation with which they find themselves confronted. 

Hey, donut shop people!! I have an idea … how about you make some friggin’ donuts so people will give you money?? How about that for a business plan?? I guarantee that, no matter what time you go into the previously mentioned Donut Hole or Gibson’s, they will have DONUTS!!  But here in the Great North-West? Nope, both of these supposed donut shops had, maybe, a total of two dozen donuts on display between them, with only 4 different types of donuts to choose from. 

Tonelli’s   boring + boring = Boring
Blue Star   $4.00 each … that’s right, $4.00

Now, the hipsters were stroking their logger-man beards and pondering which of the FOUR donut types they might wish to purchase. Hey, hipsters! How about you buy one of each and get out of the way? It’s not like you have any good choices … clearly the popular donut types sold out somewhere between 6:30 am and (now) 10:00 am, so let’s cut the melodrama and either buy something or get the heck out of the way …  

And that little donut scenario summary is kind of what Portland/Vancouver is like. Much ado about nothing, IMO. However, the surrounding, somewhat more rural, areas are simply beautiful. The scenery is amazing, the air crisp and clean, roads essentially uncongested. The over-sized beards, however, are still in abundance, but in the rural area cases these guys might actually cut down trees …

Flying to Portland from the ATL, in coach, was an endurance test. Sheila used some mileage points for a companion ticket so I could join her without having to pay for a ticket to an area that neither of us ever thought would be worth the price of admission. But there were several nice surprises in Washington/Oregon for us, surprises we wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t gone with Sheila.

View from coach class … nothing but butts

That said, O-M-G with these coach seat sizes! I’m 6’5”, Sheila is 6’, so we need some leg room. To be fair, because this flight was coast-to-coast there are maybe an extra 3” between the rows. That’s just enough to pull a leg out of the way using a contortionist move, keeping your knee cap from being crushed by the seat in front of you. I’ve noticed that short people are always the very first to recline their seats … always … while the tall folks try to have mercy on their fellow passengers and try not to just slam the seat into the recline position.

I usually fly 1st class because; #1, I’m 6’5” and, #2, the fare is not that much more expensive on the shorter flights (like Newark to ATL). At least in 1st class, when the shorty in front of you slams the seat back you still have ample leg room. In 1st class you get to sit down ahead of almost everyone (physically challenged and families with kids are the exceptions), and then you get to drink the complimentary beverages while the coach class losers straggle in to find their seats. You can just see the look of jealousy as they eyeball your drink (scotch for me, Bailey’s & coffee for Sheila) and look longingly at your pillow and blanket.

But not this time, coach it was. And to add to the ultimate shame of being in coach, Sheila kicked-my-butt BIG time at the trivia games on the plane entertainment screen. It was disgraceful, not even close … I knew she was way smarter than me, but that was just horrible. I really need to find something that I’m better at than Sheila just so I can try to save face a bit … 

My score on top, sadly … Sheila beat me, soundly

We did get a chance to meet up with old friends of Sheila who now live in Washington state. Cindy & Jeff were in Sheila’s country waltz dance class about 1 million years ago when they all lived in LA County CA. This was my first chance to meet them and they were really cool … 

Cindy, Jeff & Sheila – Castle Rock WA

On Saturday Sheila and I went to the general Mt Hood area of Oregon, visiting Hood River, Multnomah Falls, Bonneville Fish Hatchery (coolio sturgeon), and ended the day in McMenamins Edgefield Hotel in Troutdale before getting back to the airport for the return red-eye to ATL (yes, yes, yes … in coach again!). Loved all of those places, an excellent balance to the (yawn) blandness of Portland/Vancouver, plus a much lower % of hipsters. 

Multnomah Falls

We went to the strangest Goodwill I’ve ever seen while we were in Hood River … it was set up like a boutique but with thrift store pricing. I think Laura and her vintage clothing resale biz (check her out online – or is starting to have an impact on Sheila’s already vintage mindset …

Sheila at the Hood River OR Goodwill Boutique

Okay, running out of space this week … Overall, the trip worked out wonderfully, and I’ll have more on that in an upcoming blog. Lot’s of exciting news!

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