On the third day of our epic roadtrip from Vancouver to Tijuana, we took the I5 Interstate from Seattle to Portland. It is the main and most direct North-South route in Washington State and the drive takes less than three hours if the traffic is good. Given a few days to spare, there are mountains, islands and lakes to explore, but there isn’t a lot to see from the interstate. Arriving at the boutique HiLo Hotel, we dropped our bags and set out to get to know Portland a little better. Within five minutes of our hotel we stumbled across Jake’s Famous Crawfish, which has been in business since 1892. Being unfamiliar with both Jake and his renowned Crawfish we stopped there for lunch and found the both the food and beverages to be excellent.
The Loyal Legion
We spent much of the meal debating whether to go on the bike-bar tour of Portland that Ted had booked. Billed as ‘Beer, Bike and The Portland Way’, it was a 2 hour, 3 stop pub-crawl on a pedal powered bar. In good weather this would have been quite compelling, but the cold weather, combined with our inherent fear of exertion put us off. After some debate, which required a few more rounds of drinks to settle, we cancelled the tour. We had reached out to a friend in Portland, James, before the trip and whilst chez Jake we firmed up our arrangements. The plan was that we would meet at the Loyal Legion, an establishment whose sole purpose is to celebrate the Oregon Craft Brewing tradition. Re-orienting our sole purpose to the same, we took a taxi across the Willamette River.
None of us were in particularly good shape when we arrived at the Loyal Legion, as we had been slightly over served at lunch and all felt tired and somewhat listless. As we stood outside the bar, taking in the bracing air, Ted noticed a man pacing manically back and forth between two posts on the other side of the road. He remarked that the pacer had the right sort of idea, a comment that refers to his habit of pacing away a hangover. This was a technique he had used extensively at Nick’s house one particularly painful New Year’s Day, and became known as ‘Ted’s Turkish prison walk’ after a scene from the film Midnight Express.
1,000 Years of Silence
Starting to feel the cold, as none of us had brought adequate cold weather clothing, we ventured inside the Loyal Legion. Portland has more breweries per capita than any other city in the world, and the Loyal Legion has a fine selection of their beers: 99 in fact. Looking at the extensive menu I was most taken by a stout called 1,000 Years of Silence from the Fort George Brewery, which I duly ordered. Nick chastised me for not reading the small print, as the beer is rated at a startling 10.5% ABV. It was a magnificent brew, but not one you could drink a lot of and remain concious. James arrived shortly afterwards and we had a great evening with him. After a good spell in the Loyal Legion we had dinner at the Trifecta Tavern next door and then headed to James’ cigar bar: McMenamins Greater Trumps, where he gave us each a fine cigar. We participated in the pub quiz and I helpfully illustrated each of our answers, which later proved to be popular with the quiz markers.
Mexico By Friday
Ted had invested in a large scale map of the West Coast, which we pored over with James during the evening, carefully recording his advice on the map. Our inattention to one of his carefully inked annotations – about landslides – would cost us a great deal of time later in the trip.
The next morning we loaded the Chav Wagon early and were about to set out when a homeless person set about us. ‘God has a plan for you!’ she screamed, spitting at us with rage. Sympathetic to the poor woman’s plight but not particularly keen to hear more about God’s plans for us, we set off. We were headed for Cannon Beach, a renowned beauty spot on the coast. Getting there meant taking Highway 26 across a small mountain range – and heading slightly North. ‘You do realise we have to be in Mexico on Friday?’ Ted remarked pointedly as we headed back the way we had come. This became a frequently used phrase on the rest of the trip – particularly whenever I was setting up my tripod.