Eating and Playing in Portland: Salads, Drag Queens, and… SASQUATCH!

I spent five days in Portland, and have already shared many great experiences: being interviewed on the Bowflex Breakfast Club and on the local news, and, of course, Sunday’s 200-story stair race. But I did so much more! Get ready for photos… starting with salads.

I ate a lot of salads. I love them, and they’re good for me, and it’s always the first section I read on a menu, and this trip involved a lot of restaurant eating. The salad above was my favorite, the smoked chicken salad at Altabira City Tavern, a fun restaurant on the top floor of a hotel.

This is the Power Green salad at Hopworks Urban Brewery, with an added piece of salmon, and minestrone soup on the side. Hopworks was next to my hotel, so I went there twice during my stay, and the other time I ordered the following spinach salad, with vegetable soup on the side, and two tempeh sliders. (This was a very late dinner, on the night I arrived, and all items were on the happy hour menu. Cheap healthy food is the best!)

I went with friends to Nuestra Mesa, a fun Mexican place in nearby Camas, Washington, and ate their taco salad, with spicy shrimp, which was delicious. I ate less than half of the shell.

And the night before the race, I wandered into New Seasons Market, a Portland-based grocery chain, and tackled their salad bar, which was excellent.

My salad bar technique is to skip the lettuce altogether, and build a salad based around the veggie toppings. It’s because restaurant salads tend to be heavy on the greens, so when I’m in control, I want something different. This salad has over a dozen different vegetables, with one hard-boiled egg and a spoonful of ham cubes for protein. It ends up being expensive, because the toppings are heavier than lettuce, but it’s worth it.

I also bought, at New Seasons, snacks that I snuck into a movie theater: Valencia Almonds with Herbs.

They were expensive – $5.50 for a small container of almonds – but were some of the best almonds I’ve ever had. Plus, that’s about what popcorn costs at the movies, so it wasn’t that outrageous a purchase. The movie I saw was “Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and I loved it. I saw it the night before my race, when I wanted to relax and get my mind off the race, and the movie was a perfect diversion.

I ate other things besides, salad, too. I went with friends to Lapellah, in Vancouver, Washington, and ordered one of their daily specials: halibut, served over lentils with a few crispy onions.

And after days of eating salads, I was really craving a burger, and I came across the Nob Hill Bar and Grill, which had their specials on a sign on the sidewalk. One of them was a peanut butter and bacon burger, and it immediately caught my eye. I ordered with with a side of chili.

Peanut butter may sound weird on a burger, but trust me, it’s delicious! Meat and nuts aren’t that bizarre a combo anyway, you find peanuts and cashews throughout Chinese and Thai menus.

I kept busy during my free time. My friends John and Bill took me to a Portland Trail Blazers game one night, my first pro sporting event in well over a decade. It was a great game – the Trail Blazers beat the Charlotte Hornets by only a few points, in overtime.

Plus, I saw an old friend, Kevin, whom I haven’t seen in 7 or 8 years and now works for the Trail Blazers, which was fantastic. And I was there, in person, to witness the world’s worst tic-tac-toe game, which went viral on social media the next day. Maybe you saw it?

The next night I went to Darcelle XV, a history-making drag show. Not only is it the longest continually running drag show in the U.S. (50 years!), but Darcelle, the host and star, has the Guinness Record for being the oldest performing drag queen, at age 87. Darcelle is second from the left:

It was great fun, full of talented performers and naughty humor, but I made the mistake of eating dinner there, because the showroom has a kitchen. The menu is all bar food, loaded with carbs and fried foods. I ordered the chicken wings, thinking they’d be a healthier choice, but they too were breaded. (I didn’t get a good picture, it was too dark in there.)

I had Saturday free, so I did some exploring in Portland. I rode the Portland Aerial Tram, which isn’t really a tourist attraction, but a legitimate mode of transportation for the staff of the Oregon Health and Science University, as it connects two of their campuses, one of which is a big hospital on top of a hill.

It’s a short ride – only about three minutes, and costs less than five bucks. And I am so jealous of the OSHU employees that get to ride a tram every day as part of their commute to work. I want to commute via tram!

From there I went and got a tour of Pittock Mansion, a gorgeous home, built by the wealthiest man in Oregon in 1914, that’s now owned by the city and operates as a museum.

It’s a stunning home, and at the center is a stunning grand staircase, and you all know how much I love stairs!

The mansion is halfway up a mountain, and there’s incredible views of Portland and beyond. That’s Mt. Hood in the distance!

From there, I went to the FreakyButTrue Peculiariam, which is called, by the owners, an oddities museum, art gallery, and gift shop. And yes, it is all of those things, and is delightfully bizarre and gruesome. It kind of has the tone of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, but everything is made up.

It’s located in a small storefront in the Slabtown neighborhood of Portland, but only costs $5 – a fair price for the 30-45 minutes of entertainment you get there. I was cut open by some aliens…

…and made some new friends, including Krampus…

…and Sasquatch. The only and only sasquatch! (Click on it to see it bigger.)

I kept active, too, with some excellent workouts. I tried a couple machines that I’ve never used before, which I’ll share in upcoming posts. Plus, I had a wonderful workout on a volcano… and I’ll be sharing photos of that in my next post!

Keep it up, David!

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