Monday, October 24, 2005

Portland Pumpkin Pickin' and TSA Toenail Tumult

The World Series is on travel status today, so let's go back to Portland for a spell.

After my Friday afternoon stroll down NE Alberta, I took the bus downtown and walked over to Powell’s City of Books. I bought Alan Hess’ Googie Redux, the definitive exploration of Southern California coffee shop architecture and stared at bookish women for an hour or so.

I caught up with Noah and Trish for dinner. We went to a place downtown called Higgins that prides itself on innovative uses of fresh, regionally-grown ingredients. I made Noah and Trish pose next to this pumpkin in the bar. I ordered rigatoni with fennel sausage and a garlic cream sauce, which our waiter described as “fucking excellent.”

Austin is a progressive place, but you're highly unlikely to hear your waitperson use that kind of language unless s/he knows you. Nevertheless, the pasta dish was pretty fucking excellent.

The Indian summer weather continued on through Saturday, so we decided to go to Portland’s farmers market. Located along one of the famed “city park blocks” on the Portland State University campus, the market brimmed with vendors hawking fresh fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, breads, cheeses, meats and various pickled items. Trish bought some lavender peach preserves that were awesome.

Then we drove 10 miles west of town to Sauvie Island, where several pumpkin patches attracted throngs to pick the perfect pumpkin in anticipation of Halloween. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced such an intense autumnal vibe in my life as a Texan. We tromped around the muddy patch, fetched two impressive, green-hued pumpkins and hopped aboard a hay ride that took us back to the parking area.

The only catch was getting off the island. Since there’s only one two-lane bridge, traffic backed up for almost two hours. Nevertheless, you could do a lot worse than sitting in traffic on a picturesque island in mild weather while the sun goes down.

We went to McMenamin’s Kennedy School for dinner. It’s an old elementary school the McMenamin’s people turned into a restaurant/bar/club/movie theater/hotel. Their red snapper sandwich hit the spot after a day of pumpkin picking.

We’d planned on hitting a club or something, but we were all too beat to do so, so we came back to the house, had a few beers and passed out.

My flight on Sunday didn’t leave until 11:35, so I didn’t have to wake up too early. The airport wasn’t too crowded, either, but the TSA confiscated my damn toenail clippers.

I've carried these clippers on airplanes many times since 9/11, but the Portland agents claimed I could use them to cut wires and compromise the plane’s airworthiness. The latex-gloved woman behind the counter looked at me like I'd tried to bring boxcutters on board.

They gave me the option of mailing my toenail clippers to myself, but I decided to surrender them to the War on Some Terror since they were kind of old and grody anyway.

Apparently, they don’t realize my unclipped toenails could do a lot more damage than those clippers.

Other than that, it was a smooth, uneventful journey home. The planes were full, but I landed in Austin with plenty of time to watch the Astros lose.


Anonymous said...

Hey man, that "pumpkin" at the bar you're referring to is my lover, so lay off. We're going to sue you for like a million dollars for defamation or libel if you keep it up, man. Your sniveling antigourd attitude is why Austin will never be cooler than Portland. (

Susan said...

Higgins! We adore, absolutely adore that place. Even if they want to call their burger "Finely ground spiced sirloin on a hearthbaked roll".

--susan s, soon to be moving to the PDX

Terence said...

Wow. Noah and Greg in their mid-30s. Here are two observations, made with sincere fondness: (1) Noah has stayed thin, while I've become a blimp; (2) Noah's looks remind me more than ever of Grant Hart (who has become thin in what must be his mid 40s), which, of course, is a great compliment.

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