Disclaimer: This is a really long post.   

Have you ever seen the show Portlandia?  It only slightly exaggerates the quirky nature of Portland, Oregon.  It's a city where eccentricity is the norm, music is of utmost importance, an 8 to 5 job is weird, strollers are a nuisance (everyone wears their baby/toddler), happy hours start early and end late, driving above the speed limit is futile, local entrepreneurs are supported, parking is cheap, nature is beautiful, tattoos are common place, and foodies abound.

Nate moved out there last April, just before Graham was born.  We decided it was high time Nate met his nephew, plus we've been wanting to head back to the Pacific Northwest ever since our trip to Seattle lo these five years ago.  We didn't do much planning of things we wanted to do while there since we were so obsessed with surviving the cross-country flight with Graham.  So upon our arrival Thursday evening, we threw together a quick list, after which we discovered that our list was remarkably similar to Time Magazine's list (minus the strip clubs). Here's a recap of our adventure:

Travel weary, we opted to stay close to the hotel (an Embassy Suites in Tigard, a suburb of Portland).  We had lunch/dinner at a Wood-fired pizza place in a new strip mall, and of course, had some local beers.  Bought a couple six packs at a New Seasons market (like a local Whole Foods), and headed back to the hotel to catch up.

Graham woke up early.  Reeeallly early.  2:30am early.  And wouldn't go back to sleep.  At 4 something when it became apparent from his jumping on the bed that we were in fact not getting sleep, we got up.  We played for a while.  Then realized we were really hungry.  Alas, the hotel breakfast was not yet available.  But VooDoo Doughnuts (a wildly popular destination for both locals and tourists) is open 24 hours.  Apparently 6 am is the sweet spot (ha - pun not intended) at VooDoo.  The after bar crowd has cleared out.  And Portlanders apparently sleep notoriously late, so there was no line to speak of.  It's such a dive, and the doughnuts are fantastically over the top (to quote my doughnut loving brother, "They almost gave me the diabetes.")

Clockwise from top left: Grape Ape, Maple Bacon Bar, Diablos Rex, Cinnamon Sugar, Oh Captain my Captain, Marshall Matters

After a much needed post-breakfast morning nap, we decided to check out Reed College, a fellow College that Changes Lives.  I have to check out the competition!  The campus is nothing spectacular (but nice), and the student body is definitely a microcosm of Portland.  Chances are, if a kid is interested in Reed, they probably aren't seriously considering Kalamazoo.  Graham had a good time running on the quad and looking at bikes.

We met Nate for lunch in the Hawthorne neighborhood near Reed.  I guess it's close to where he'll be living soon.  It is a quintessential Portland neighborhood, where, as Nate said with some disdain in his voice, the less your clothes match, the better.  And the weirder your hair cut, the more you fit in.  At which point I had to take a picture of his freshly styled coif.

Nate had other things planned for the afternoon/evening, so we were on our own.  We headed into downtown Portland to grab a beer at Rogue.  Not because it's the greatest beer ever, but when in Portland...Graham caught up on some Z's in his stroller.

Then we headed to Powell's Books, which is apparently the world's largest independently owned bookstore.   It's huge!  And we only spent time in the kid's section.

Jeff came up with the brilliant idea of picking up sandwiches from Kenny and Zukes to-go.  While they would have been better warm, they were still delicious later on after Graham went to bed, and very shortly before our early bed time.

Nate had a gig Friday night and knew he wouldn't be available before noon on Saturday, so we decided to spend the morning checking out some of the sites in Washington Park.  Hoyt Arboretum is free and we needed some exercise.  We didn't realize quite how rugged it would be (good thing I was wearing my running shoes), but we appreciated the challenge.  Graham was quite content in his Ergo, cool air on his face, but warm and snugly again my back, so much so that he fell asleep shortly into the hike.  We're guessing we hiked maybe 3 miles all told, and saw the outside of the Japanese garden and International Rose Test Garden.  Graham woke up when we got back to the visitor's center, just in time to not want to get back in the car!

We got back in the car, made our way towards Forest Park and in the process stopped at the Audobon Society, where we saw some birds and walked a little more on the trails (which is more challenging with a wide-awake, boundary-testing toddler).

All this outdoorsy stuff made us HUNGRY, so we headed into the city to Bridgeport Brewing for a delicious lunch and tasty beer.  Graham had fun, too.

I had read about a wading fountain in Jamison Square, in downtown Portland, and since it was a warm day, it made perfect sense to head that way to play in the water with Graham.  He was a little apprehensive of the water, but still had a good time.  We had to cap off our afternoon with some ice cream at Cool Moon across from the square - it was delicious!  Graham had blueberry, I had Belgian chocolate and salted caramel (sooo tasty) and Jeff had I think Mexican vanilla and cookies & cream.

With such a fun filled and action packed day, we decided to lay low in the evening.  We went to a sadly pretty mediocre Thai plce for dinner with Nate, then back to the hotel.

Graham LOVED the little cart at New Seasons and threw a huge fit when we had to leave.

Playing in the water made things better, though.

They're both a little unsure about this arrangement.

Our last day in Portland.  Again - Nate is not a morning person.  What to do on a Sunday morning?  Go to the Zoo!  It's a really nice zoo, obviously very kid friendly.  It was another beautiful cool morning, which was so refreshing.  We all had a great time - although Graham fell asleep the last 20-30 minutes in the park and missed only a few exhibits.  I had to stop taking pictures half way through upon realizing my camera battery was getting low.

Graham calls all animals "dogs."

We had to cross "eat at a food truck" off our to-do list, so we decided to head to Mississippi Ave, a neighborhood in north Portland, which is one of the older parts of town.  The Mississippi Marketplace did not disappoint.  Realizing I hadn't taken any pictures of Portland, I decided to take a few of this neighborhood (which is close to where Nate was living at the time).

Sadly, we were kicked out because "no minors allowed."  Whatev.

We all walked several blocks to Lompoc Brewing after getting the boot from Amnesia (so lame).  Walking any distance with Graham takes FOREVER so we were glad to chill out for a little while.  It was great hanging out with Nate, and I think moving to Portland was good for him.  I'm only bummed that it's so freaking far away.

My little artist

Graham was all photo'd out
After another long, fun day, it was time to chill out again in the hotel and prepare for the trip home the next morning.  While Graham certainly won't remember this trip, Jeff and I will never forget it.  I love my boys.


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