The Eugene sky was overcast as we woke to hit the road once more. Before we left town, a bite to eat was in order, which we located with the help of our trusty GPS. I'd never seen an entire restaurant that hinged on ramen noodles as their primary ingredient, and Joey and I have certainly had some memorable ramen experiences already, dating to our days as college roommates. Our visit to Toshi's Ramen
The menu, I thought, went a little overboard. While it was nice to see some visual representations of their menu, it didn't help the fact that everything looked pretty much identical to my untrained eye. And frankly, many items were nearly identical, varying by as little as a single ingredient from item to item.
We ordered Gyoza (pot stickers with pork and veggies) to share, and I ended up with this surprisingly attractive bowl of ramen. The ingredients were fresh and unique, and must have been very cost-effective for this Toshi person, since about 90% of my main course was water.
Our drive north to Portland took a little over two hours, filled with lush, almost-autumn foliage and bumpy, mountainous landscapes. It was a surreal experience, this drive, because as some of you might remember, Portland is our endpoint. This drive, for now, signified the end of our long trek across this vast country - at least until Sarah was back with us. Joey and I had decided that it wouldn't be right to finish our ascent into Washington for the final two days of our voyage if Sarah wasn't with us. So for now, we were landing in Portland on day 98 and setting up shop.
We pulled into town and circled around for a while, getting some looks at our new home away from home. Right off the bat, we found ourselves encountering far more purple houses and VW buses than we were used to seeing.
I don't think it will come as a surprise to many of you when I tell you our first stop. A quick visit to BeerAdvocate
yielded some excellent advice as to where to wet our whistles with sweet, sudsy microbrew. We found ourselves at Deschutes Brewery
in the Pearl District, a section of town that boasts a plethora of unique spots for a bite or a bev.
Joey and I found seats at the bar, planted ourselves down and exhaled two long sighs of satisfaction at the sight of this wonderful place. Our bartender greeted us with a pair of beer menus, printed on green paper and rippled with dried droplets from the customers before us, which we briefly perused before formulating our plan of attack.
Among our options was a six-beer sampler, with five-ounce glasses of whichever beers we chose. We counted our way down the line, and found that they had 18 taps - which just happened to be perfectly divisible by six. So Joey and I shared a sampler comprised of the first six beers on the line, followed by another with the next six, and then the final six. The styles ranged from their refreshing Green Lakes Organic Ale to their robust Black Butte Porter, and we both knew we'd be drinking plenty of the deliciously hoppy Inversion IPA in the weeks and months to come. Somewhere in there, one of the kegs kicked and a new one went on tap in its place, of which our bartender was kind enough to offer us a free sample. 19 beers in one visit is nothing to sneeze at.
To aid in the digestion of all these delicious microbrews, we ordered some bites off the menu, which was about as expensive as I expected for that part of town. Our plate full of fries was as good as anywhere, but the other half of our order was a trip. Being well aware of Portland's reputation for good, fresh seafood, I ordered a dish with jumbo buffalo prawns. This would be the first time I'd ever had prawns before - I had no idea what to expect.
Well, guess what? It turns out I have had prawns before. They're just shrimp. The bartender claimed that prawns are slightly larger than shrimp, but as far as I'm concerned, they just changed the name so they could fish for suckers. They caught me, all right. Still, the dish was very tasty.
Joey was driving, and had left a lot of the beer consumption to me. So he took us a few blocks away to the Alexis Restaurant
, as he wasn't quite ready to call it a day. We sat down and talked with the bartender about our circumstances, that we'd just arrived and now it was time to start looking for a place. He said he lived in the Northeast part of the city, a decent place to be, as he put it.
Soon we were back in the car, and Joey took us to our temporary dwelling at a hotel in nearby Lake Oswego. The trip was not quite over yet, but for now, it was time for us to start taking root. More on that from Joey, coming very soon.