As a fan of the show Portlandia, Oregon’s largest city inevitably crept up on my travel list. I allotted a weekend to explore the city and a few gardens, before continuing on my Pacific Northwest road trip. Even though I packed in as much as possible, I still felt like I missed out.
If you’re short on time, but want to see the very best of Portland, here are a few places to start:
Honey, I’m not going to lie. I walked into my hotel suite with a limp wrist, a half-drunk glass of Pinot and fully possessed by the living spirit of NeNe Leakes. I’m on my way up. Savannah has that effect on me. I find everything here so incredibly lovely. Doors are held open, seemingly everyone is smiling and alcohol is readily available (except Sunday mornings when the wine is for Jesus only).
I recently discovered two new joys of road-tripping: I-80 between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and gas station potato chips. Not just any potato chips, but artificially flavored Italian Hoagie chips by PrimoHoagies. Do they taste like a hoagie? No. Yet, it makes your breath smell like you ate a footlong. How? Pennsylvania magic.
A continuous curtain of water battered my car for the first thirty minutes I was in the great state of Georgia. Coming from Southern California where it never rains, it seemed like an unnecessary show of force. Okay, I get it, you have water here. A few minutes before I was attacked by extremist clouds, I photographed a bright blue billboard with an anatomically correct peach that offered an official welcome from Nathan Deal, who was not the owner of a car dealership or host of a game show, but the governor. This sign was strategically placed over a highway rest stop that I thankfully had the foresight to patronize, otherwise, I would’ve had a repeat of what will forever be known in my house as the ‘Arizona incident.’ Five days ago, when I left my home in Los Angeles, I got caught in an epic, two-hour traffic jam somewhere near Flagstaff. And, while surrounded by a sea of idling cars on historic Route 66, I was left with no choice but to open my car door and hover my pants-less body over the steaming hot pavement until I heard drops turn to a cascade and then back to drops.
Pumpkin and cinnamon are my least favorite flavors, so I never had a taste for fall…until I got lost in a field of sunflowers, rolled a wheelbarrow full of pumpkins and stood over a waterfall — all in one 70-degree day.
Today I was supposed to be driving through Wyoming as part of an elaborate, multi-state road trip. From Yellowstone, my next stop would have been Grand Teton National Park, followed by Shoshone Falls in Idaho. But we all know what this year has done to our travel plans.
In honor of Pride month and our fifth year of marriage, enjoy a retelling of the odyssey of our wedding day.
Everything went silent. I couldn’t hear the officiant. I couldn’t hear the waves. I couldn’t hear the seagulls. I was in a complete sound vacuum, as I watched her lips. I wanted to absorb the moment she said, “I do.”
Everything up to that point was chaotic. A whirlwind of ridiculousness, from a late start to a long drive caused by a disastrous manicure to a traffic delay due to weather and hunger. All of this compounded by an additional 25-minute tour of all of Key West’s dead-end streets in an effort find our hotel, which was outside of the purview of our GPS, but somehow still under the control of President Truman.
From the moment we finally set our bags down in our room, we had exactly 30 minutes to get ready. Thirty minutes. Two brides. One bathroom.
“I need the eyeliner,” she said
I looked in the monster make-up bag I had packed just 5 hours prior. But there was no use, I knew the moment she said eyeliner that I forgot to pack it.
Nearly fourteen years of togetherness are all riding on getting through the next 19 minutes and counting. I was not about the let a shitty black crayon get in the way of marrying the woman I love. I contemplated a few options, like sticking one of her thin make-up brushes into the mascara tube or just handing her a pen.
“You’re not going to believe this,” I said, full knowing that she would believe it.
Profuse apologies followed and then her half-acceptance of them, but really, we didn’t have time to fight about eyeliner. We barely had time to look at each other. And every time we did, one of us would get teary-eyed, so I think it was a good thing we didn’t have the stupid eyeliner.
We made it to the beach exactly two minutes before our scheduled time, but our officiant was already there, which meant I didn’t have time to tell her all of the things I wanted to say. I couldn’t tell her that she looked more beautiful than ever. I couldn’t tell her that I loved her. I couldn’t thank her for planning this beach wedding because I was too much of a princess to get married in a courthouse where Alex Hanna was fighting traffic tickets at the next window. I couldn’t tell her that she made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I couldn’t apologize for forgetting to pack the eyeliner and all of the other countless stupid shit I do on an hourly basis. I couldn’t say a word. We were too busy making small talk and going over forms and making transactions.
And the more I desperately tried to slow down the moment, the faster it seemed to go. Before I could get my bearings we were under a palm tree holding each other’s hands. This was really happening. I was really marrying her. Officially. Legally. Forever.
I was asked to say, “I do” first. The words fell out of my head like the contents of a plastic Easter egg. Two words have never been said more clumsily. I could’ve as easily said, “Yeah, yeah.”
But now it was her turn. The person that swore marriage wasn’t for her. The person that argued the concept of marriage was antiquated and patriarchal. The person that even to this day feels like we are rushing into things when we make plans six months in advance. The most private person I know is now being asked to publicly affirm that she was completely cool with having a wife forever. For. Ever.
“I do,” she said in her softest, most graceful voice.
And with that my hearing returned. The roar of the ocean, the click of the camera, the officiant’s memorized speech about the significance of a ring. All of it came back and louder than ever.
Since then life has been just a little more bright and just a little more loud and just a little more perfect.
Here’s to another fourteen years…this time we get to be newlyweds.
Public transportation in Miami is lackluster to say the least. And with long distances between points of interest, your best bet is to rent a car. I compiled a few tips on how to drive like a local, whether you’re landing in MIA or FLL.
I’m often asked what is my most favorite place I’ve ever visited and, without hesitation, I always answer Amalfi. But it’s not for the reasons you think. Before reaching the picturesque coast, I traveled from Naples to Sorrento with five strangers and an Italian driver obsessed with disco in one of the best (messiest) car rides I’ve ever been in (and that’s saying a lot.) That prelude made reaching the coast all the more special.
As a kid, I remember watching the Rose Bowl Parade on our very non-HD, barely color and monstrously boxy television set. I could hardly hear the announcers’ color commentary over my mother’s “¡Mira pa’ eso!” “¡Que cosa más bella Dios mio! ” and “Como inventan los Americanos.”
Now I get to send her text messages with crisp photos, inches away from the floats.
The first time I stepped foot here, I wept as if I were looking up at the Sistine Chapel…and I wasn’t even inside the Venetian. Everything was so far-fetched and over the top, yet so perfect at the same time. Is that a real life lion in the middle of a casino? Yes. Is that my waiter rappelling while holding a bottle of wine? Yes. Did a volcano just explode on Las Vegas Boulevard? Yes. Is that really Minnie Mouse doing something obscene to Sponge Bob’s nose? Yes.