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Tourist in the other Portland (Oregon)

After OSCON wrapped up on Friday I took the opportunity of a free afternoon to play the tourist in Portland. It occurred to me as I booked this trip that I managed to visit both Portlands this month, this one had less lobster though. And I will take this opportunity to say that I was really impressed with Portland’s (Metropolitan Area Express) Light Rail service. I had planned on taking a taxi as needed, but the light rail ended up being quite sufficient for everywhere I needed to go, from getting downtown from the airport for a reasonable fee ($2.40) to getting to the conference each day (which was free!).

My first stop after getting back to the hotel was Voodoo Doughnut, which I’d heard all about from friends who had visited Portland.

I waited in line for about a half hour to get my precious few doughnuts, but it was worth it for the adventure and the delicious treats that result (like this guy). Writing about it now makes me want more.

I dropped off the box at my hotel and then went off to the next destination on my list, Powell’s Books. I didn’t actually know about this place until I came to Portland, and then was delighted to learn that their massive bookstore was just a couple blocks from my hotel. The bookstore was wonderful. I ended up with several books from their main store, and then went across the street to Powell Books 2 (formerly Powell’s Technical books) to enjoy a paradise of Science, Computer and Engineering books, including a whole section for trains (which includes street cars and cable cars!), I thought I would never leave, but I did… with some books about trains, street cars and cable cars.

Dinner was some slices from Sizzle Pie (conveniently located near the hotel).

The next day I met up with my friend B.J. Brown. I met B.J. online via a Mystery Science Theater 3000 IRC chat we both belonged to, so we’ve probably known each other for over 10 years, this was the first time we had the opportunity to meet in person.

Our first stop was a Rogue Ale House. There is also one in San Francisco, but this is a Rogue in Oregon, where Rogue was born! We both ordered a sampler to go along with our lunch, I predictably went very hoppy with the exception of the Dead Guy Ale, which is a long time favorite.

After lunch we hopped on the MAX and headed out to the Oregon Zoo.

I didn’t know much about the zoo when I arrived, but it turned out to be one of the better ones I’ve been to. The layout was quite natural and I really loved their whole “Great Northwest” section.

The weather was nice, but the temperature crept up as the afternoon wore on and I think a lot of the animals ended up hiding. No lions or tigers to be seen! They were also closing early for an event, so I only got a quick look at one of their elephants and we had to skip the zoo train, a 35 minute trip around the zoo and surrounding park. I was very happy that B.J. was willing to put up with my zoo dorkiness, we ended up having a great time.

We wrapped up at the zoo and headed back downtown to meet up with another friend I’ve known online for many years, Chris LaPlante. Unfortunately by the time we met up it was getting late and we only really had time for him to drive me to the airport. Even so, we had a good half hour to talk and that was fun.

More photos from my trip are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157630699644634/

And that ended my short Portland trip! I hope to go back at some point, it’s a nice city and there is more downtown to check out, plus OSCON will be there again and I would like to attend again in the future, perhaps for a whole week next time.

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