samedi 12 mai 2007

The city of (currently no) roses.

Oh, right. So I'm not still in Portland. It was only a quick weekend trip, after all. It's just that... well, it was swelteringly hot in LA when I got back, and obviously when it's that hot I just lie there on my couch eating bonbons and watching TV, and... yeah.

I don't think I expected Portland to be quite as small and quiet as it was. I think I expected something more along the lines of Seattle, where I was in December - not as lively as LA, but definitely not a quiet surburbia. Yet it was calm and quiet, albeit with massive industrialization along the river, which was another surprise. And perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that Things Close Early, namely restaurants. We got in rather late on Friday night (thanks, United, for the 2.5 hour flight delay!), and on Saturday night we also wanted a late dinner, and it was a real problem finding anyone who served around 10pm. On a weekday night, perhaps that wouldn't be so surprising, but it was a weekend after all. And as we'd drive by bars in our cab to and from dinner, they'd be on the emptier side.

Yes, many signs, for clothing stores and restaurants alike, had this peculiar thing where they said they'd be open from a particular time to and "-ish" closing time. Like "8-ish". Or, in some cases, "until close". What does that mean? I abhor such vagueness, especially when it comes between me and my food. (And apparently, it means they close early.)

Along the line of signs - I suppose that every establishment that serves alcohol has to have a sign saying whether minors are allowed there or not. Check out the picture of the sign above to see what I mean. (Reminds me of the required signs in Seattle in dining establishments which say, "No firearms permitted on these premises." Is that a really big problem, people secretly packing heat?) And do you see the BIG GLARING grammatical error on the sign? These signs are distributed by the city, I assume - didn't someone proofread them for such errors? I guess not.

All of that aside, my friend and I had a most lovely time there. We walked over two miles every day, exploring the city (although it would have been nice if one of the many people we asked for directions told us that the roses weren't actually in bloom at the International Test Rose Garden before we got there), and managed to get a fair amount of shopping in as well. (Yay for no sales tax!) And oh yes, the wine tasting - that case of wine in the previous post was split between me and my friend, and I'm glad we limited ourselves to 6 bottles apiece since I have no idea how, if we'd each bought a case, ever have gotten it home, not to mention just to our hotel, without us losing our sanity. Did I mention that we did a lot of shopping before the wine tasting? And that if some nice winery owner hadn't told us to leave our shopping with her, we wouldn't have been able to navigate the crush of people at the tasting? Oh, and that a conservative estimate of how much we drank at that tasting (given that there were 20 wineries with an average of 1.5 tastes of wine apiece [most wineries had one or two wines to taste, a few had more than 3] and about 4.5 tastes to a glass), was roughly 6 glasses in under three hours? Which normally wouldn't be that bad, but we hadn't really eaten and we had walked A Lot.

Fun times. There should always be big wine festivals when I'm traveling. And lots of shopping. But now it's back to the grind, and I have to say, I just proctored a midterm for the class I'm TAing, and I'm appalled at how many students didn't know what "antecedent" means, even though we used it in class at least once a day. Appalled. Maybe they shouldn't be proofreading any city-distributed signs anytime soon.