Celebrating Matt’s birthday

For Matt’s birthday we visited Han Oak and partook of their very delicious tasting menu.

For appetizers we had the kimchi plate, curried potato salad and the seaweed and greens. We picked the chicken wings and the onomiyaki for the snack and had dumplings. Also the smoked hanger stake and the pork bo ssam. Plus the dessert.

While we didn’t love the dessert (we reestablished that neither of us like mochi, or meringue) the rest was incredibly delicious.

Plus, they were playing hair metal ballads the entire time, much to my delight.

Anniversary dinner at Navarre

It’s our seventeenth anniversary and to celebrate, we had a delicious meal at Navarre. The restaurant was deserted, as it was a glorious warm spring day and everyone else was probably hiking or some other outdoorsy Portland thing.

Due to the full staff and the lack of other customers, our food came fast. While we ate dinner we traded off asking questions of our favorite memories. Examples: favorite vacation we’ve taken/ favorite wedding we’ve attended/ favorite thing about our house, etc. It turned out to be a pretty fun game.

We forgot to take a picture in the restaurant, so here we are by the car.

We watched a movie today. So did half the country.

The Baghdad Theater was a great place to watch this movie. A big theater with lots of audience reaction, makes an eagerly anticipated movie that much sweeter.

What did I think? I’ve got a review here.

Plus, this movie got me to thinking about just how many superhero movies the two of us had watched in the course of our relationship. And then I wrote a blog post which can be found here.

The evening in which we throw axes

Matt visited his brother in Indianapolis earlier this month. He sent me pictures of him standing in front of a bullseye painted on wood next to a hatchet wedged deep into the wood.

“What is this?” I asked him

“Ax throwing,” he replied. “It’s a thing here.”

“I’m surprised we don’t have that thing here,” I typed

Turned out, we did.

We threw axes at Jack Axe, which is located in the Tiki Family Fun Center in Gresham. We arrived 20 minutes early as requested, heard the safety information and the lesson and then were set loose on the range with four other people.

Our four other people turned out to be great fun, inventing different ways to throw an ax (on one foot; with your eyes closed!) and providing challenges such as affixing a $5 bill to the target. It made our 60 minutes go by quickly.

I was able to hit the target several times. It’s a very satisfying sensation when the ax sticks. Jack Axe wets down the wood, though, so I’m not sure I would have such good results out in the wild.

At $20 per person for 60 minutes, this wasn’t fun enough to meet that high money threshold, but I enjoyed myself and am glad to have done it.

Asylum Theater Speed-the-Plow

The Northwest Classical Theatre Company has taken its last bow in Portland and I miss it. So when I received an email that one of the players from the NWCTC was starting a new company and would preforming David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow, I made a note to buy tickets.

And we did! And here we are back at the Shoebox Theater, which is now the home of Theatre Vertigo. They’ve taken down the costumes which used to hang from the ceiling and done a few things different with the lighting and the painting, but otherwise it’s still the same cozy place.

I had forgotten that when you walk into the theater there are usually some newbies who gasp and exclaim at how tiny the theater is. That was fun to experience again.

Self portrait.

Speed-the-Plow was a great play! It was made better by the fact that when it started, it was trending in a direction of me not liking it. Two guys talking about the amazing deal they were going to make on a movie is not my favorite thing. But things kept shifting and I felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me several times.

Jason Maniccia and Danny Bruno were great as Gould and Fox and Briana Ratterman was also very good as Karen.* Don Alder directed.

Matt and I had a lot to chew on as we drove home from the theater, which is always the mark of a good play. Hopefully we will see another production by Asylum Theater soon.

Fun audience moment: the music playing before the play started included “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” by U2 from their Rattle and Hum album. I was signing along quietly and noticed that the woman sitting on the other side of Matt was also singing along quietly.

*Fun fact: Madonna played Karen when the play debuted in 1988. Also fun fact: the revival of this play was supposed to star Jeremy Piven, but he begged off claiming Mercury poisoning due to eating too much sushi.

The Portland Streetcar Scavenger Hunt

The Portland Streetcar put on a scavenger hunt and we participated. There were clues (that rhymed!) and they led us to different spots along the Portland Streetcar line. When we found them, we took a picture, posted it on Instagram and received the next clue. Here are all the places we went. Of note: I learned that I have no selfie skills. None. I’m usually laughing in these photos due to my sub-par skills. I take self portraits all the time with my camera, but it’s much easier to do than using a phone.

We started at the Spirit of 77, where we checked in and got a brochure with all the clues. This was handy as our last few posts got lost in the shuffle and we didn’t get our clues via Instagram.

Also, it was the rare summer rainy day! Here we are just outside our first destination The clue “Working out this clue/Gave us quite a fit/Mostly because/Nothing rhymes with it.”  Matt knew it was “Orange something,” and a bit of googling showed us the location.

“For this basilisk vessel/Look above, not below/It’s hanging in a place where/You attend a conference or a show.”  This one was tough. We had to figure out with basilisk meant (lizard). I guessed the location was the Convention Center and downloaded a brochure of public art that alerted me to the dragon boat. Then it was a matter of walking there. Matt wishes to point out that a dragon isn’t a lizard and thus, this was a sub-par clue.

“Dame says get your fun on/and be witty!/Be the “i” in the sign of / “__ __ __  __ __ __ __”  We had to ask for a clue for this one. Luckily Instagram direct messenger made it easy. “Damian Lillard” was the clue and that meant that it was something over at the Rose Garden. I took a picture of Matt by this fountain because I’ve always liked this fountain. To solve the clue we took our picture in front of a clothing store that wasn’t open and it was pronounced good enough. Apparently there was a big “Rip City” sign out front and you could take a picture with yourself as the I. However, the sign wasn’t out on this particular day, much to the organizers annoyance.

“Be it dark, white, or milk/Design your own, smooth as silk.” Googling told us there were two options of chocolate stores, one on the west side of the river and one on the east side, where we were.  I DM’d to see if we should cross the river yet, and the answer was that it wasn’t quite time yet. So Creo Chocolate it was.

We both got chocolate drinks as the rain had gone away and it had become a sunny day. They were chocolate, milk and club soda, I found mine funny tasting (I don’t love bubbly water, so I’m not sure why I ordered it) but very refreshing.

As we had done nothing but walk thus far, we had planned to take the streetcar across the bridge and into the Pearl. But the next car was not coming for 18 minutes and so we walked some more. I groused about it, but we did see some fun things like a group of guys playing around on the electric scooters.

From the Broadway Bridge. West side of the river:

East side of the river.

Union Station always looks so pretty.

Some graffiti 

“Head to the Pearl for your/Next treat/”Eat it! Don’t Bake it”/This dessert is sweet!”  We discussed what kind of dessert place they might be talking about, but I remembered the Cookie Dough Cafe, where you can buy cookie dough to eat. “That’s right by my work!” I said, happy to have solved the clue. “We can stop by and use the bathrooms. And so we did.

We were told to go inside on this one and were rewarded with some cookie dough to go. Thanks Cookie Dough Cafe!

“This place is also/Swell, nifty, groovy, and cool/Find it and take a photo inside the ‘Better Takes Action’ tool.”  While Matt stood in line for our cookie dough prize, I googled “better takes action” and was told about the shoe company Keen’s campaign. We headed down the street to Keen for this photo.

Keen had benches outside, so we rested while we worked out the next clue. Across the street Filson (of the overpriced flannel fame) was doing something with chainsaws.

“This awning is great/for a night or a bite/Find the sculpture inside/Of birds taking flight”  We knew it had to be a hotel with a restaurant, but there are many, many hotels in that area. Matt googled “awning hotel portland” and it came back with Canopy which is a new hotel by Hilton. In fact, I have chronicled the block after the previous building was taken down, but before they had made much progress building it.

In other news, though I walk past this hotel regularly, I had never noticed this grand sculpture of the swifts!

“Public art in a park sure is neat/These make streetcar poles more/discrete.”  Matt knew exactly what the clue was talking about. I had never noticed them, even though the bank where I deposit work checks is right across the street from these totem poles/streetcar pole camouflage.

People who spend time downtown know the signs of something being filmed nearby. RV, Penske rental truck, No Parking signs. Somewhere in the vicinity filming is happening.  Strangely, they were spread out over three or four blocks.  It appeared to be some sort of athletic gear ad.

We found our final place, the Tea Bar, and headed for the last clue, “You’re done!/Come celebrate and say YAY/At the brick home of/The original IPA!” That was Bridgeport Brewing.  Matt got a burger and I got a hummus plate while we waited to hear the results of the raffle.

And Matt won!  A basketball signed by last year’s Blazers. Thanks, Portland Streetcar!

On the way to take the streetcar back to the starting point we had a very rare summer downpour.  That was fun!

Finally, we use our free streetcar fare!

This was a very fun way to spend the afternoon. Thanks, Portland Streetcar!

Our first time at Breitenbush Hot Springs Resort

Matt turned 40 and we decided to celebrate with a trip to Breitenbush Hot Springs. It was a good decision.

Our cabin was very roomy for two people.

At Breitenbush, you are provided with a bottom sheet, but bring your own blankets and pillows.

All of the heat is provided by geothermal energy.

I loved the beadboard siding and the many hooks to hang things on.

Our cabin exterior.

They had indoor showers, but this is a picture of the “new” outdoor showers and they are great. Breitenbush provides the biodegradable soap.

Interior of the outdoor showers. There’s something about showering outside that is so fun.

The bathhouse, one of men and one for women.  There was also a restroom building near our cabin.

Breitenbush is a year-round operation, and I loved this snow shoveling schedule posted.

It must be some operation to clear all the roads when it starts to snow.

There are multiple fire stations on the property. This is one of them.

In the warmer months you can rent a tent.

There are a lot of good hangout spaces. This one is near the Sanctuary, where a lot of the classes are held.

They ring a gong to call people to the thrice-daily vegetarian meals that are mostly organic.

A view of the lodge.

Some steam escaping from a too-hot stream near the lodge.

The sign keeping us all away from the very hot spring.

Originally Breitenbush was a regular hot springs resort, rather than a hippy granola hot springs resort. My mother visited it when she was a child.  I was excited to find a remnant of that time: the traditional-style swimming pool.

More steam coming from more hot water.

One of the meadow pools. These were my favorite pools.  There are three of them and their temperature gets progressively hotter.

The view from the pool.

I love all the hooks affixed to the sheltered bench near the pool.
The view from the silent pool.

I’m always interested in how operations work, so I was happy to find this schedule tucked away on the back of a bench/structure thing.

Some really great details have gone into Breitenbush, such as the wood that creates this bench.

There are outdoor showers that help you cool off from your soak.

The sauna, which more like a steam room, not a dry sauna. While the hot pools at Breitenbush somehow manage to escape the stinky sulfur smell I associate with hot springs, the sauna is the most sulfurous smelling.

One must duck to get into the sauna.

The resort generates it’s own power from the Breitenbush River. They have also built a fish ladder.

A view from the bridge over the Breitenbush River.

And a view of the river itself.


The kitchen always had music coming from it.  It’s probably a big job to provide three vegetarian meals per day for the resort guests.

Where we got our massages.

One of the vehicles.

The forest shelter building.

Us in front of the lodge. Notice how people hang their towels along the deck in front of the lodge. That was one of my favorite details.

Once you park your car in the parking lot, you use these carts to bring your things down to your cabin. Then you never see your car for the rest of your stay.

This was a great place to celebrate a big birthday.  It’s such a relaxing place.  When I wasn’t sleeping, I was lounging, or soaking, or eating a good meal.

We try Thai Rolled Ice Cream

My first encounter with Thai Rolled Ice Cream was at the Minnesota State Fair. I did not stand in line to have some–the line was long–but I did get a good overview of the situation because they were stationed right below an escalator so I got a birds-eye view as I was headed down.

There’s a shop now in Portland, so I was excited to try this and avoid the line.  We failed at avoiding the line–it was a very sunny and warm spring day and the shop was full.  But we did get ample opportunity to watch our treat being made.

Liquid is ladled onto a very cold disk and things are added in.  I got the Oreo one, so mine had a crushed up Oreo. Then the mixture is spread into a square and carefully rolled into five rolls, which are placed in the cup.

You can then add three toppings, a sauce, and some whipped cream.

Matt opted to skip the whipped cream, and so you can see his banana and Nutella ice cream rolls much better.

While it was fun to watch the creation of this dessert, I didn’t love the flavor of the lactose-free “ice cream.”

OHS Civil Rights Exhibit

Matt and I had a date at the Oregon Historical Society to see Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years.

It was a good exhibit.  Both of us were left with the depressing feeling that not much has changed since the 1960s and 1970s.

An example: This is from the October 1966 Black Panther Party Platform and Program.  The Black Panthers were talking about police brutality 52 years ago.  How much has changed on that front?

Here’s a picture of houses and businesses in the thriving Black community in the Vancouver/Williams area. The 188 shaded houses and several businesses were claimed through eminent domain and torn down for the expansion of Legacy Emmanuel Hospital, an expansion that never came.  The Oregonian featured one woman’s story on July 6, 2017.  “City policy cost 98-year-old black woman her home. Here’s why she won’t get it back.”

We learned about the tense relationship between police and the black community including police officers taking part in racist harassment, being fired and the police taking part in a “Cops Have Rights Too” rally. The officers were reinstated.
An observation by Avel Gordly

Instructions for what to do when stopped by the police which are still the same instructions given today. Point #12 was interesting advice about how to sit in the police car more comfortably.

Also this great letter from the chairperson of the Black Justice Committee, who opens with an apology and acknowledgment that putting together the monthly mailing is “a big drag.”  This made me laugh.

The exhibit ends with ways to work for change.