Day 344

Well Portland, that was one heck of a weekend.

While I admittedly spent a majority of it hiking around the hills of Portland, I still managed to hit up a few great spots and learn some very unique things about the city.

Discovery #1 was ADX Portland, which I learned about from one of my Pollinate colleagues. Billed as a “hub for collaboration where individuals and organizations make and learn,” ADX is a giant co-op workshop that offers everything from metal and wood shops to 3D-printers and laser cutters. To me, it’s a great reflection of Portland’s DIY attitude and I think a lot of other cities would benefit from having such a space available. Personally, I find ADX’s best attribute to be its calendar of classes. As a member of the facility, you can take courses on metalwork, upholstery, woodcarving and so much more.

Discovery #2 was a little thing called Zoobomb, which brings together the quirkiness of Portland’s residents and their overt love of biking. A true PDX tradition, participants ride their bikes downhill from Washington Park station over and over again. Of course, what fun are normal bikes? The Zoobomb crew uses a variety of vehicles from minibikes and tall bikes to skateboards and choppers. And while many riders bring their own gear, a “Zoobomb pile” is always available with loaners. The tradition has become so well known around the city that a permanent pile, located in the downtown area, was erected in 2009.

These are just two examples of what I discovered about Portland this weekend. I have to admit that in a lot of ways this city accurately reflects many of the assumptions people hold about it—from an endless number of artisanal goods and craft stores to a love of nature, fitness and organic food. I’m sure a lot of people out there are fans of Portlandia and while the show's themes are largely exaggerated, I completely understand how their ideas come to be. Everyone here is just doing his or her own thing and having fun in the process.

If I’ve learned anything about PDX in the past week, it has to be that it’s deceptively small. They pack a lot of fun into a little city, even if you don’t realize it at first. I think that says a lot about the people who inhabit it and what they try to stand for—big impact / little footprint.

On a side note, I should probably mention my hike through MacLeay Park on Saturday. Turns out, the park is a lot bigger than I expected it to be. I started my hike around 3:30pm and before I knew it, I was pretty deep in the trails. After awhile, when the sun started to set, I decided to make my way back and that's when I realized just how dark it had become. I wasn't wearing my glasses either; so that wasn't helping anything. Thankfully, I did have cell service and that's how I knew just how far into the woods I had hiked. If it wasn't for my GPS and flashlight app, I'm not sure what I would've done. But, after a good hour or two stumbling along a pitch black trail, I did manage to make my way back to civilization. It was—without a doubt—one of the freakiest things I've encountered on the journey. Lesson learned. 

-Steve-

Day Eighty Eight

Kellogg's Diner in Williamsburg

Yesterday, I received my very first question through the site! After doing a rather lengthy victory dance, I finally calmed down enough to answer the submitted inquiry. It's perfect timing too, as this is my last blog from the Big Apple. 

“Hi Steve, I’m having a great time following along on your journey. I see that you’re currently in NYC and it just so happens I’ll be moving there with a few friends after I graduate this semester. I’ve only been to the city once before and I was wondering if you could offer up some of your favorite joints. I’d love to know some cool places to visit!”

First off, I have to thank the reader for their question. I’d do it by name, but it was submitted anonymously, so our shadowy inquisitor must remain a mystery for now. However, I’m more than happy to tell everyone about some of my favorite places in the city. I’m no expert by any means, but having lived here for 4 years, I’d like to think I know a thing or two. Here are some of my favs:

Bar: Barcade—this Williamsburg establishment offers up a great selection of beers and more classic arcade games than you can shake a joystick at. I recommend battling it out in 1942 or testing your grit with Smash TV. Other goodies: Woodwork, Pinebox Rock Shop, Tandem, The Dead Rabbit

Store: Forbidden Planet—hands down one of my favorite comic book stores, you’ll find new releases, back issues and a whole lot of figures, cards and collectables. I dare you to enter and not spend money. Other goodies: Kidrobot, Duane Reade, Original Penguin, Trash & Vaudeville

Neighborhood: Lower East Side—it took a lot to narrow down my favorite, but the LES is filled to the brim with delicious eateries, small shops and great clubs. From Pianos to The Delancey, this neighborhood is a must for your weekend partying needs. Other goodies: Meatpacking District, Bushwick, Williamsburg

Concert Venue: Gramercy Theatre—this concert venue doesn’t deserve to be pigeon-holed with such a title. They offer up a unique blend of comedy, movies, parties and concerts in an intimate atmosphere with some pretty good drink deals. Other goodies: Santos Party House, Irving Plaza, Webster Hall

Restaurant: Kelloggs Diner—sure there are a million places I could pick, but Kellogg’s is sure to always hit the spot, especially at 3am. Their open 24/7 and offer a massive menu that could take weeks to dig through. From Sunday brunch to drunken snacks, they never disappoint. Other goodies: Pie Face, Two Boots, Crif Dogs, Scarpetta, Chop't, Veselka 

Others: Brooklyn Bowl—this is once place that offers just about everything under one roof. It’s a concert venue, a bar, a (delicious) restaurant and a bowling alley. It’s a tad pricey, but if you have the money it makes for an amazing night. I’d recommend going at least once in your life. Other goodies: Brooklyn Wreck Room, Eataly, Union Pool, Museum of the Moving Image

There are hundreds of places I could’ve included on my list, but these are some of my all time favorites. I hope you all have a chance to visit some of these places, because they’re all one-of-a-kind.

See you in Philly!

-Steve-