Dejected would be the best way to describe my sentiments upon rolling back into Provo. It was snowy and frigid. The air smelled like musty exhaust. I returned to the cat-hell i was living in, descended the dark, cat puke stained stairs, passed the elfin battle cries of World of Warcraft on my left, and entered my room. The room was hot as usual, due to the sweltering heat wave emanating from the 50 plasma TV in the closet. I laid down on my bed and wished for death. Not even the two 4-packs of Cock & Bull Ginger Beer, nor the ridiculously delicious, spicy horseradish mustard pilfered from the Brass Horse Pub could cheer me up. The Tool bass lines assaulting me from above were most definitely not helping. I was only there a week, but man I fell in love with that place.
Portland. I've never been in a more pleasant smelling, metropolitan city. The first time I exited my car and escaped the dank, musty man-smell that can only be duplicated after being pent up in a very small space for 14 hours, the clean air almost killed me with its goodness. It smelled like the Uintahs. I never dreamed I would find a city that smelled like the mountains that I love so dearly. The only downfall that I could thus far see, was that I couldn't pump my own gas. What a ridiculous law.
Portland is quite wet. There was not a day that it wasn't drizzling rain. I am quite certain that it rained more during that week, than it has in Utah during the last 6 months. The humidity felt good. My face didn't so much appreciate the climate change, and was therefore rebelling against my natural good looks by breaking out. Oh well, at least my lungs were happy.
Ave. 23. Imagine a Provo center street that is about a mile longer, full of quaint shops and stores, boutiques and thrift stores, tea and coffee shops, bars and pubs, and non-chain restaurants. I guess we have the Hookah Connection and an Indian restaurant, but I still feel like Center St. is a bit lacking. I doubt Urban Outfitters will be taking over the Crazy Canuck building anytime soon.
The Chai Tea Lounge provided me with a tongue numbing Kava tea. Was it delicious? No, it tasted like dirt water. But I suppose it is a neat feeling when your mouth and throat go so numb it is difficult to swallow...or something. The inside of this place is a total indie hangout. Leather couches, scrabble, and tea served in hand-made clay pots or glass bowls heated with candles gave the place a very unique feel. Tight pants and scarves were in abundance. There was a wall filled with tiny jars containing their more than 120 teas, which one could smell before purchasing. Why does tea always smell 10 times better than it tastes?
The trees in Portland are beautiful. They are covered in green moss, which gives everything a very lush look. Huge pine trees tower over everything. One morning we were at a Village Inn (not sure why), and I looked out the window at the looming pine trees in the surrounding area, and it truly felt like I was eating a mediocre breakfast, high in the mountains in the middle of a forest. That made the mediocre breakfast much more enjoyable.
Not only does moss grow on trees, but pretty much on everything else as well. Ivy drapes over hills, trees, and even overpasses. For one who is from the desert, it definitely put me in sensory overload. Sometimes I forget places can be so green, as I dwell here in the dry, but beautiful Utah desert.
So what if my dream home consists of my back porch being 100 feet off the ground? At least aspiring to have a home on stilts is better than accepting the fact that fate will probably deal me one on cinder blocks.
There are a few rather large hills in Portland. One could probably call them small mountains. These homes are built into the side of these "mountains," hence the need for stilts. Most of the homes are small and quaint. The rich people who live there mostly seem to placate their egos by driving Beamers and Lexun (plural for lexus, I think.) Well, whatever. I want to live there.
On a scale from 1 to beautiful, Washington park was exquisitely divine. Located on one of those "mountains," the park is a gorgeous place set apart from the world, as it were. By driving up a winding road through the dense forest, I was immediately struck by the beauty of the place. It was amazing to find such a pristine environment a mere mile outside of a major city. Thanks tree huggers.
My top two meals of 2007 occurred in Portland. Near Hawthorne Blvd. there is a small, smoky Pub called the Brass Horse. We were looking for the best place to eat some fish. We wandered into a nasty 7-11 (no nastier than every other nasty 7-11 I suppose) and asked a random local there where to find some quality fish. He turned out not to be a liar. We began the meal with a cheese plate which consisted of gouda, havarti, and smoked provalone. It definitely put my cheese cravings to bed. It was also there that I partook of the most delicious ginger beer that God, through man, ever created. Cock & Bull. Not so sure God actually named it. Either way, it had a gnarly bite and my palate was hella happy. Our English sausage platter was served with a spicy, pub-made mustard that we would later return to buy. Best mustard ever. It is in my fridge, feel free to come try it.
The next night we ate at a recommendation from our Pub server, called the Blue Monk. He too, was not a liar. Being that close to the coast, the salmon was fresh. As much as I like my frozen Costco salmon, it just can't compare with fresh. It came out on a bed of spinach, with some kind of white bean concoction on the side. The ensuing mouthgasm was quite indescribable, so I guess I won't try.
So now and again, Jared and I get accused of being gay. Whatev. So what if we shared a bed over the summer? People are homophobic I say. I like girls just as much as the next straight guy. It just so happens that touching a guy doesn't freak me out and make me feel emasculated (although I do have my boundaries.) It was nice to wander around a town with some culture for a few days. I love my religion, and I love Utah. I do, however, get tired of the stifling Utah culture. I don't always agree with the choices people make or the way they choose to live their lives, but I can appreciate the variety of culture that stems from those differences. Different isn't always evil. Sometimes different is simply that; different. As much as I love Utah, I think I have discovered a place where I really want to be. Portland, and Oregon as a whole, have almost everything I need; a temple, mountains, coast, moderate temperatures, culture, cheese, great food, a stellar music scene, Cock & Bull, and fantastic thrift stores. My amazing family and wonderful friends are the only things lacking. Oh, and Moab.