As we made our way back towards the weird and wonderful city of Portland, we remembered it was quite hard to find discreet, long-term overnight parking so thought we’d spend a night camping just off the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway, perched alongside the Columbia River, looking across at the state of Washington from Oregon. Although cold and a little overcast, it was such a perfect little spot to spend a night next to a nice warm fire and can of soup.
In typical Oregon style, the next morning was wet, so we did our best to ventilate as we edged closer towards the city. We stopped off at a roadside petrol station for a quick cup of coffee and our morning hit of wifi as the sun rose, organising ourselves for the day to come. We drove closer and closer towards Portland, stopping only at a shopping complex or two for a Subway lunch and to escape the rain, as we squeezed in the last bits of US retail before we’d eventually cross the border back into Canada.
That night we returned to one of our favourite areas in Portland, Laurelhurst, parking on a quiet back street as we headed into the action. We walked past a small restaurant called Tapalaya, noticing they had happy hour food and drinks specials. We’d usually try and eat on the cheap whilst travelling the reasonably pricey USA, but as we were nearing the end of our trip we thought we’d start to loosen up a bit. This way of thinking tended to carry on through our remaining days in the states, but more on that later.
Tapalaya specialises in Cajun-style tapas, so we ordered a few plates as I knocked back a few more happy hour martinis than probably necessary. We rolled out of the restaurant and into Laurelhurst Cinema, catching a strange but oddly captivating film to keep us out of the rain and out of Fuego.
The next morning we walked ourselves into town, stopping in to renowned Stumptown Coffee Roasters for our morning brew. As this was now our second visit to Portland, we wanted to see the areas we hadn’t last time so decided to head up to the trendy Northwest District where we bounced around a few shops as Anita looked for a new pair or two of glasses.
After a morning of window shopping we headed back towards Chinatown for one of THE biggest combination bowls we’d ever had. I can’t stress the size of this “super bowl” enough. A monster bucket of roast duck, roast pork, bbq pork, pork dumplings and greens, all floating about in the most perfect noodle soup. I joked that they should put on a full-time lifeguard just in case someone were to drown in this thing.
We spent the following days hitting our favourite neighborhoods around town, doing plenty of second hand clothes shopping and eating the very best of the local budget food scene which consisted mostly of Trader Joe’s pre-packages. This is of course was until our final night, where we decided to splash out and visit arguably one of Portland’s best Thai restaurants – Pok Pok. We threw back a few cocktails as the very friendly and knowledgeable waiter walked us through the menu. But, admittedly, we were only really interested in one dish and one dish only – Ike’s signature Vietnamese fish sauce wings. And man were they good.
After our fantastic last supper we did a bit of wondering around the surrounding shops before stumbling on yet another arthouse cinema, this time with a free screening of the 1983 classic “Trading Places”. Jackpot! We spent the evening laughing at Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy before returning to our beloved Fuego to sleep. After all, we were headed to Seattle the next day, the very last stop of our absolutely incredible road trip across the United States of America.