May 21 2012

Sharing Portland

When a family member or friend visits your new city for the first time, excitement often mixes with nervous energy. With first-time visitors to Portland, I want to convey the city's multiple personalities while still allowing room for visitors to form their own opinions.

A few months ago, Justin's mother booked a plane ticket to visit us in mid-May. Two months ago we were painting and planting, weeding and unpacking, and still becoming acquainted with our new city and neighborhood. May seemed like an eternity away! We had recommended that she visit in May because we hoped that both we and the weather would feel more settled.

Arlene arrived in the middle of Portland's 16 day sunny streak. As in, 16 days without a drop of rain. At one point last week, Portland's weather made it one of the warmest cities in the country! Knowing that we wouldn't have to present Portland in the drizzle (even though--so far--I've found I don't mind it), we planned several outdoor activities, including a drive to Washington Park to wander among the not-quite-in-bloom rose garden and through the always serene Japanese Garden. We lunched at the downtown food cart pod, Cheese Bar, and Por Que No, snacked at St Cupcake and Salt and Straw, and cooked dinner with ingredients purchased at the Buckman and PSU Farmers' Markets.

On Saturday, after a busy morning shopping for strawberries and snap peas while dodging crowds at the PSU Farmers' Market, we drove to the Chehalem (rhymes with Salem) Mountains AVA, a subregion of the Willamette Valley AVA, a wine growing region which encompasses the drainage basin of the Willamette River. We started with Rex Hill, and though we enjoyed our wine tasting, we didn't enjoy the exorbitant markup on the bottles.

We then drove to the Ponzi Vineyards' winebar, a bright, airy room situated in Dundee. Ponzi's wines were the best of the day, complete with charming service. We opted to sample several cheese plates that included house-made hazelnut butter. This butter is so exceptional that the proprietor shared he's in the process of packaging it for resale. Ponzi is next door to Red Hills Market, a restaurant and wine bar that's stocked with local wines and cheese, seasonal pizzas, and delectable desserts. We picked up a tiramisu to share at our final destination, Adiri Winery.

Our car jostled along the scenic route from Dundee to Cornelius and when we arrived nearly an hour later, the back windshield was thick with an inch of mud. The bumpy roads (and $8 car wash) mattered little as we began our final ascent to the winery. Driving up the hill reveals a panaormaic view of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. St. Helens. The wine at Adiri was too sweet to really enjoy, but thankfully at that point in the day, I really only wanted to drink water and take in the view!

It was a fun challenge to show Arlene a glimpse into our daily lives in Portland and what makes Portland and the surrounding area so special. I overplanned, somehow thinking we'd have time for a small hike and even a trip to the coast, but there's always her next visit...and our next visitors!