Monday, September 28, 2009

Portland, OR to Las Vegas, NV

Our last day turned into one of our more active - if you can believe it. While Amy wanted to go to Mother's for breakfast on our last day, they are not open on Mondays so instead we went to Pazzo instead. Our main meal for the day.

Last night I had checked into renting a car for the day, and was told to check back in the morning. Fortunately Enterprise had a Yaris available and we were able to drop it off at the airport (all for the same price as a cab to the airport. Now - where were we going to go? We had thought of heading out to Canon Beach, where we had been in 2000, but instead we decided to see some new and drive east along the Columbia River Gorge.

 Columbia Gorge - looking east - from Women's Forum Overlook, OR

We started off in the Hawthorne District (SE Portland), where ABH first lived when she moved to the city. From there we jumped onto the 84 before linking with the scenic Highway 30. Along the 30 we stopped at a couple of view points to see the Columbia Gorge before stopping at many of the waterfalls just off the road. The first stop was Latourell Falls. Here, like most of the other stops, we got out and hiked to view the waterfalls. Next stop was Sheppard's Dell, followed by Bridal Veil Falls. We also stopped at Wahkeena Falls before the major attraction on the route, Multnomah Falls. We had been to Multnomah Falls 9 years ago, and it is still as breathtaking today, though we did not hike up to the bridge to get the full effect as we wanted to see more of the beautiful Oregon / Washington Scenery.

Us @ Sheppard's Dell

Us @ Bridal Veil Falls

After Multomah Falls we continued east (back on 84) until we came to the Bridge Of The Gods, which we crossed over into Washington. We continued east through the town of Stevenson, just taking in the shear beauty of the river and its mountainous surroundings. In Bingen, WA we crossed back over the river into Oregon at Hood River. We stopped at the river for a while to watch all the windsurfers and kite-surfers. It looked like it was a blast, but it must've been cold out there. At Hood River we briefly ventured south into orchid country. Unfortunately we only had time to stop at The Gorge White House. I say unfortunately because this place was nice and there are 31 other orchids in the area. The Gorge White House grows pears, has a winery and an art gallery with old and new photos of the area. We picked up some fruit (the best pears I'd had in years) and turned back towards Portland. again, if we had more time we would have continued on to Mt Hood, which unusually, had no snow on it's peak.

We took the 84 all the way back to the airport, where we dropped off the car and waited for our flight home.

What a great weekend! There is no way we'll wait 9 years to come back here again. Portland is such a great city - maybe one we'll live in (hint again Amy). I'm pretty sure she enjoyed her graduation present.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Portland, OR

We left the hotel around 10am this morning for our hike up to Washington Park. We stopped near the hotel for a snacky breakfast, before our climb into the West Hills. Being the unfit old man that I am, the walk up the hill was a killer. But all so very worth it. Washington Park is a beautiful, large open space with a massive Rose Garden centering it. The view east towards Mt Hood is spectacular - even if there was no snow on the mountain. We spent a good couple of hours meandering through the park and its neighborhoods, before heading back down the hill, through some uncharted streets, just enjoying Portland's west side.

On the way back we stopped at Whole Foods to grab lunch before meeting one of Amy's old work friends, Nancy, in the Benson's lobby bar. As with the rest of the hotel, the lobby is classically beautiful and just a relaxing place to have an afternoon drink.

When Nancy left, Amy and I went to the bar she has been longing for for 9 years. Hubers is a 130 year old restaurant - Portland's oldest - and home of the famous Spanish Coffee. Amy's favorite drink on the planet. After our drinks, we continued with an old tradition of hers and went shopping briefly before the stores downtown closed.

The evening finished off at Jake's Grill, another landmark Portland restaurant. We celebrated our last night in Portland with a great dinner, and our mandatory walk through the city. It seems a shame to be leaving tomorrow, but, back to reality.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Portland, OR

Saturday Markets were our first priority on Saturday morning. Located under the Burnside Bridge, down by the Willamette River, the markets are typical of markets all over the world, with food, local fare, music and knick-knacks. We spent 2 hours strolling through, buying gifts for ourselves and others. We bought a real nice photo of Cannon Beach, where we had our first real date 9 years ago. I also got a sleeveless sweater, to cope with the cool Portland weather.

I Think the Sign Says it All

After taking our stuff back to the hotel, we walked over to the Bridgeport Brewpub to have lunch with Mike, Amy's old flatmate, his wife Jenny and their 3 week old son, Layne. We had a fantastic feed out on the patio of this old brew pub. This was Mike & Jenny's first trip out with the baby, and I think it was a success.

We explored more of the Pearl District after lunch and headed into some of the south east streets of downtown.

We went back to the hotel at about 5pm to chill before we went on our mini dine around (again in the Pearl - are you seeing a pattern?). We started at Oba, a fantastic Mexican restaurant, with drinks and some of the best tacos I've ever had. Andina (a Peruvian restaurant) was to be our next stop, but you could not get near the bar. Same problem at 50 Plates. We could, however eat at Touche - an Italian restaurant ABH had taken me too way back when we were first here. Hummus and a quick drink and we moved on. Bay 13 turned out to be our last stop (who new appetizers could be so filling), where we split some mussels, edamame and sushi.

Us @ Bay 13

I love that this city is so walkable (though Amy says I need to come back in January). Feels like we've covered a bunch of miles in the last 2 days, yet we've hardly left the NW section of town. Maybe tomorrow we'll explore further.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Las Vegas, NV to Portand, OR

So I wanted to do something to celebrate Amy's graduation, and incorporate that with us getting out of Vegas, so where better to go than where our romance began. Portland, Oregon. We had talked about going there for a long weekend forever and this was the perfect opportunity for us to get away. Thanks to Amy's boss for allowing me to book her time off, I managed to keep this a secret until the week beforehand (had to let her know so she could organize her week at work).

We left on an early Southwest flight, which went off without incident until our thudding landing in Portland. A quick cab ride downtown and we were able to check in at 12pm at The Benson, an historic hotel that Amy has been talking about forever and a day. This beautiful hotel was built in 1912 and has kept a lot of its original interior design. Located in the heart of downtown, our huge room was the start to a wonderful weekend.

First stop was lunch, so we headed up Burnside to Henry's Tavern for a quick bite. After lunch and a beer we walked up to NW Couch & 17th to Amy's old apartment. She was in heaven, picking out some old regular haunts and surprised by the many changes in the 9 years since she'd last been there. We continued our walk in the Northwest neighborhood up to 21st and 23rd Streets, where boutique stores and small cafes and brew pubs lined the sidewalks. We probably spent 5 hours all up just taking in the city - and I know there is so much more to explore over the next few days.

That evening we went to Bluehour for dinner. An upscale American restaurant in the Pearl District that a couple of people had recommended to Amy. Walking to the restaurant I felt pretty overdressed compared to others in the city. That is until we were inside. It must be the only sports jacket wearing restaurant in town. Food , service and atmosphere was pretty spot on. The Pearl District used to be known as an arty area, but it has now been gentrified into restaurants and lofts as well as the occasional gallery. We took some time wandering around this area after dinner, stopping for a drink at the Paragon. A great area very close to downtown. This is where we'd live (hint, hint, Amy) if we were to move to Portland. We ended up back at the hotel not long after 11pm, exhausted after half a day exploring Portland on foot. Much more to come over the next few days.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Garry Ivan Fay

b 8 May 1949
Annandale, New South Wales, Australia
d 24 September 2009
Gosford, New South Wales, Australia

Survived by his parents
Ivan John Fay
Irene (Gigg) Fay

his children
Luke Ivan Fay
Holly Elizabeth Fay

and his grandchildren
Dylan Ivan Fay
Ethan Joseph Fay
Leila May Brown

Rest In Peace Uncle Garry

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gaslight Anthem & Murder By Death @ San Diego House Of Blues, CA

Part 2 of the road trip sees me head down to San Diego. I left Spoon in Hollywood at about 11.30am, after breakfast at Mel's Diner.

On the way south, I stopped in Carlsbad to catch up with the Nagle family. Saw Chris and Casi in July, so twice in a year is unusual for us. They have a great place right near the beach and their son Baden is a little man now - hadn't seen him for 2 1/2 years. Also got to catch up with Nags' parents, who had flown in from Oz yesterday. After a drink at the local, I pushed on down to San Diego, twas slow going in afternoon traffic.

Got checked into the Comfort Inn in the downtown Gaslamp District, before a quick wander around in search of food. Wednesday night may not be the best day to do this as downtown seems to be a ghost town. Ended up having a quick bite at Buca di Bepo (first time I'd eaten there and won't be racing back).

The House Of Blues was only 3 blocks from the hotel and I got there early in case it was like the Vegas one, where all ages shows finish at 10pm. Walked in as Murder By Death were coming on stage. I know nothing of this band, but I thought they had a good sound - rock with a cellist is not something you see every day. But again this not the reason I'm here.

The Gaslight Anthem came on to mild applause - which turns out to be standard fare for the San Diego crowd. However Gaslight Anthem put on a energetic, entertaining show. All of their songs are a great stories, and you can see in their performance that they love what they do. It took a few songs but Brian Fallon's between song banter also has a story-telling feel. I got into The Gaslight Anthem earlier this year, when Drew gave me a copy of "The 59 Sound", and I've been hooked ever since. Tonight's performance has highlighted most of that album and a couple that I had not heard of. After just over an hour on stage, they came back for a 3 song encore, which included a rousing cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl".

While this show did not reach the fever pitch of last night's Arctic Monkeys performance, I am glad I made the effort to get down to see them (again not coming through Vegas). Having said that this show was miles ahead of their quick performance at Coachella earlier this year - which, although feeling sick, I really enjoyed.

Gaslight Anthem Setlist
High Lonesome / Casanova, Baby! / Old White Lincoln / Even Cowgirls Get The Blues / The '59 Sound / We Came To Dance / Film Noir / Miles Davis & The Cool / The Patient Ferris Wheel / I'da Called You Woody, Joe / Angry Johnny & The Radio / Great Expectations / Here's Lookin' At You, Kid / The Backseat
Encore: Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts / American Girl (Tom Petty cover) / Say I Won't (Recognize)

The Crap Facts:
This is my 292nd concert.

House Of Blues San Diego is the 79th venue I've seen a concert.
San Diego is the 42nd city I've seen a concert in.
This is my 6th concert in California.
This is my 99th concert in the USA.
Murder By Death is the 292nd band I've seen.
This is my 2nd Gaslight Anthem concert.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Arctic Monkeys & The Like @ Holllywood Palladium, CA

Ever since their debut "Whatever People Say I Am...That's What I'm Not". I have wanted to see the Arctic Monkeys live. But again they are not coming to Las Vegas, so I will go to them. With work a little quiet, I have taken a couple of extra days off, talked Spoon into coming to California for the night to see some rock.

We drove down in separate cars as I am going to San Diego the following day and Spoon is going to do some furniture shopping before heading back to Vegas. We met up at our hotel, the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, just after 2.30pm We wandered up and down Hollywood and Sunset and spent a lot of time at Amoeba, looking through actual records and posters, before heading back for an afternoon kip before the show.

I had seen Bloc Party earlier in the year at the Palladium and suggested we get there early, as last time they only let a limited number on the floor. And we were there as doors were due to open, and the queue was around 2 corners. However there was no limit to who was on the floor for this show.

We got in, checked out the merchandise (meh!), bought a couple of $12 beers - yeah worse than Vegas - and was in our spot as The Like kicked off. This LA all girl band played a good blend of pop/surf rock, though it got a bit samey in the end. Was a fairly good match up for an opening act.

The Like Setlist:
Catch Me If You Can / Wishing He Was Dead / He’s Not A Boy / Release Me / Walk Of Shame / Narcissus In A Red Dress / Fair Game / I Can See It In Your Eyes / In The End / Square / (Shhh) Don’t Make A Sound / Why When The Love Is Gone

But we weren't there to see the Like. And when the Monkeys came on stage the noise from the crowd was deafening. At first it seemed if being on stage was a hassle (geez it's only the 2nd show of the tour), but it wasn't long before they lightened up and really let go. Sound was fantastic and the songs brilliant. I knew they'd play a lot of their latest album, which I'd heard only a couple of times, but it was all good. Definitely was an enjoyable show, even though they only played 3 songs from the 1st album (which is my fave). Actually in hindsight, I'd have gone to San Diego the night before if I'd known how good the show was going to be. Definitely worth the drive down from Vegas. Highlights were I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor and the cover of Nick Cave's Red Right Hand.

Arctic Monkeys Setlist:
Dance Little Liar / Brianstorm / Crying Lightning / Potion Approaching / Pretty Visitors / House Is A Circus / Still Take You Home / I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor / If You Were There / My Propeller / Red Right Hand / Dangerous Animals / View From The Afternoon / Cornerstone / The Only Ones Who Know / Do Me A Favor
Encore: Secret Door / Fluorescent Adolescent / 505
Afterwards we caught a cab to Chateau Marmont to have a couple of late night drinks. Quiet there, and unfortunately no celebrity spotting.

The Crap Facts:
This is my 291st concert.

This is my 2nd concert at Hollywood Palladium .
This is my 2nd concert in Hollywood .
This is my 5th concert in California.
This is my 98th concert in the USA.
The Like are the 360th band I've seen.
Arctic Monkeys are the 361st band I've seen.