Galileo, Galileo

We were driving home on Sunday after running an errand and I nearly swerved off the Interstate. I blame it on the sky.

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I mean, look at that! How am I supposed to concentrate on silly little things like staying between the lines when the whole freakin’ sky is lighting up like that?! Tara was kind enough to grab my phone and snap a few pics, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t gawking.

There’s just something about these South Dakota skies. They seem more impressive than elsewhere. Not that we didn’t have some great sunrises/sunsets in the Pacific Northwest, of course. I’ve taken some pretty stunning photos there, as well. But they just seem to be on an entirely different scale out here. Maybe it’s the wide open spaces and vastness of the virgin prairie stretching nearly to infinity, or the thinner atmosphere or lack of pollution or different types of clouds (hello, cumulonimbus!) that make the difference. I dunno, but something is different about our skies.

The errand we were running, by the way, involved picking up a new artificial Christmas tree. Unfortunately, our old tree was a casualty of our last-minute desperation purge in which we were trying to cram 28′ worth of stuff into a 24′ U-Haul hours before we hit the road for our big move. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t work.) At least the tree only cost Tara less than $20 and lasted many years, so I don’t feel too badly about that. This new one looks pretty nice (or at least the display model did). It’s a 7.5′ pre-lit lightly flocked spruce with 600 clear miniature lights. We’d have just gone with a real tree this year, but our complex doesn’t allow them due to the potential fire hazard. FINE. And never mind the fact that we’ll probably have around a half dozen candles burning every night for the rest of the year, but whatevs.

We ran out to Menard’s to pick up the tree during halftime of the Broncos-Chargers game. We didn’t actually expect our team to win, given Denver’s middling-at-best season and the opponent’s stellar record, but lo and behold they pulled off what can only be described as a pretty remarkable comeback victory in the waning seconds of the game as time expired from the clock. THAT is why I love football! A spectacular sunset and a thrilling victory made for a pretty decent Sunday!

The rest of the weekend was fairly low-key. That might have been due to the fact that our high on Saturday was only 19, and it had snowed overnight. We ran a few errands and went to the movies to see “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which we both really enjoyed. I found it very entertaining and Rami Malek was a dead ringer for Freddie Mercury. Clever camera angles hid the fact that he’s significantly shorter than FM was. Could the film have delved more deeply into Freddie’s personal life? Sure. But all was forgiven when we saw the labor of love that went into hitting those high “Galileo, Galileo!” notes in Queen’s classic anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and especially the step-by-step recreation of their seminal Live Aid performance in 1985. Queen was a favorite growing up; I have a fond memory of “Another One Bites The Dust” blasting over the cafeteria speakers of my elementary school one lunch hour and everybody singing along. Back when rock ‘n roll was cool, huh?

Correction: rock ‘n roll will always be cool.

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The resemblance is uncanny! Give the guy on the right an Oscar already.

I currently have a pot roast cooking in the crockpot and it has just reached the point where the smell is starting to drive me a little crazy and make my stomach growl. Practice for Thanksgiving, I suppose! Speaking of, with the lone exception of 2016 – when my parents were in the midst of a cruise to New Zealand over the holiday – this is the first year we have not hosted T-Day for as long as I can remember. That’s just always been our thing! I’ve gotta admit though, the idea of not having to cook and clean up for an army of people sounds pretty appealing. We’ll miss ’em, but I think we’ll get along just fine. There will be wine to drink and football to watch and a 10-lb. turkey to eat. Not all in one sitting, of course. I’m sure there will be days’ worth of leftovers still.

Which is kind of the point.

 

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What’s Old is New Again

I have a coworker who just started watching The Office. He may be late to the party, but boy do I envy him right now. Imagine having nine glorious seasons’ worth of new-to-you episodes of a beloved, critically-acclaimed comedy series to watch?

Actually, I can. That happened to me just last year with Curb Your Enthusiasm.

So now this guy is coming into work every morning raving over the latest episode he has just seen, and his unabashed joy is contagious. God, I miss that show.

The only thing that would be even better than jumping into The Office for the first time? Doing that with Breaking Bad.

I can’t even imagine how amazing that would be.


My parents are currently in South Africa. I also really envy them; everybody talks about traveling the world when they retire, but how many people actually do so?

My folks have been to far too many countries to name. This three-week trip is their first on the African continent, and will include not one but two safaris.

Man. They are livin’ the dream.

I kind of hate that they are gone for such a long stretch right before we move away, but I’m sure they had no idea we were actually leaving when they planned the trip.

Or, knowing my dad, he just said “the hell with ’em – we’re seeing zebras!” and signed on the dotted line regardless.


With my parents gone, our weekend will include borrowing their grill and sunroom again. It’s become a tradition.

We’re also going to hit the farmer’s market for the first time this season (shame on us!). Plus, do some more packing. We missed last weekend since we were out having fun, so we’ve got some ground to make up.

One of the trickiest things is going to be transporting Sydney halfway across the country. She has been on very few car rides in her life, and I want to make her as comfortable as possible. After doing some research, I bought the following carrier, which comes highly recommended by many people.

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She looks right at home, huh? Acclimation is key. We are leaving the carrier out in the living room, and she frequently makes herself right at home in there.

I think we are going to start taking her on short car rides, as well. So we’ll add that to Sunday’s agenda.

Countdown: 49 Days

A Love Sleeps Deep

I feel sorry for all the Midwest folks who are still waiting for spring as they dig out from a seemingly endless parade of snowstorms. You guys are my peeps (or will be in a couple of months), so I feel your pain.

However, I am not yet a Midwesterner, so I may feel your pain but I am certainly not experiencing it. Because spring is going nuts out here.

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I like fall the best, but spring is no slouch.


We had a moving company representative come by on Tuesday to give us an estimate. It was far higher than expected: $7,300, which is about 2.5 times more than we budgeted. I guess we vastly underestimated the cost of an interstate move. (Actually, that’s not true. In reality, we had no freakin’ clue how much it would cost. I think we just hoped it would be under $3,000.)

Considering we can rent a U-Haul and hire a couple of helpers to move our heavy stuff down three flights of stairs for roughly $1,800, we’re most likely going to go that route. It’s hard to argue with the economics of the situation, especially given that I’m the only one with a job locked up. We’d have to haul one of our vehicles on a trailer and the trip would take a bit longer because of physics (and that pesky Continental Divide that will surely slow a heavy truck down), but it’s do-able. We might have to leave a day earlier than planned in order to make up some of that time, because we’ve already got a week’s worth of lodging booked in Rapid City. Would I rather just hire somebody to do the dirty work? Of course. But I also really happen to like saving money.

Nothing is set in stone yet. We’re still weighing our options.

After the estimator left, we celebrated Audrey’s 18th birthday with my parents. BTW, she moved out last week, renting a room in a house with a coworker/friend. Kids grow up so fast!


Wednesday was our Moondoggies concert at Mississippi Studios. My favorite part of the evening occurred two hours before the show even began. Tara and I had arrived early and were seated by the window of Bar Bar, the adjoining bar and grill, enjoying cocktails and a burger and fries, when Kevin Murphy – their lead singer – walked by. He spotted us and waved. Then he came over, shook our hands, and chatted us up for a few minutes. I eat that shit up, not gonna lie. I love that he knows us (by name even) and doesn’t consider us stalkers, even though we’ve been front and center for eight Moondoggies shows over the past six years. Later he and the band signed a copy of their newest record for us, and even personalized it.

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The show was great, of course. Beforehand I realized that the very first time we went to Mississippi Studios was to see The Moondoggies, so it was only fitting that our last show there would also involve them. Unless something last minute comes up, that is, but we’re running out of time. And I’d kind of like to end it on that high note anyway.

The band played until 11:30 so it was a late night, and we had to go to work the next day, but in the end it was totally worth it.

It always is.

I’m not going to change my countdown app until we have solidified our moving plans, so we might have one day less than indicated, but for now…

Countdown: 64 Days

What’s Wrong with 69?!

69 days to go!!

Speaking of 69, about a month ago I decided to create a new gmail account because the one I’ve been using for years was getting a lot of spam. And I don’t mean the good kind that comes in a can! So I chose first name last name 69 at gmail dot com. Deb and Not A Palindrome at work were all, “No, don’t do that!” When I asked why not, they said, “69, Mark? Really?”

Now, I’m no dummy. I know full well there is a sexual connotation associated with the number 69. But I figured my coworkers were blowing things way out of proportion and over-exaggerating the negative response such an email address would receive. 69 is a perfectly respectable number and, conveniently, the year of my birth, so it made sense for me to use it. Throwing caution to the wind, I set it up and messaged all my contacts, asking them to update my information.

And then the emails started pouring in.

I fired up Ye Olde Internet and learned that Deb and NAP were correct. Using 69 in an email address is a no-no.

Don’t ever use the number 69 in your email address, even if that’s your birth or graduation year. Assume readers will think the worst.

Well, crap. Quit thinking the worst, ya perverts!

For the record, you should also never use 420 or 666. Who knew?!

I walked away from the experience pretty embarrassed after so many people had a good laugh at my expense. And also, I might add, feeling sorry for the number 69. What did it ever do to earn such a reputation, anyway? Other than look like…well…umm…

Never mind.

Anyway. 69 days until we move. One month ago was our STP concert and the next day our countdown dropped into double digits and I thought, holy shit, 99 days. It’s coming up fast. Well, folks: now it’s coming up really fast!

With this in mind, yesterday we started packing. We spent 3+ hours boxing up a whole bunch of stuff – mostly books, but also miscellaneous living room, bathroom, and kitchen items. On the surface it doesn’t look like we did all that much, but step into Audrey’s vacant bedroom now and there’s a pretty good pile of boxes there. It’s a process, one that we will devote a few hours every to weekend between now and late June. I’m glad for the early start. Breaking down the work into manageable little chunks like this makes it feel much less overwhelming.

By evening we were ready for a break, and embarked upon a date night. It’s been a while since we’ve had one of those. I wanted to treat Tara to a nice dinner to celebrate my impending remote employment opportunity, so we settled on a little French bistro in Portland called Verdigris. Dinner was good from start to finish: an asparagus soup amuse bouche with crumbled bleu cheese; sea salted dinner rolls; lobster bisque and scallops for her, a mushroom tarte and duck two ways for me. Plus a couple of pineapple and rosemary greyhound cocktails.

We drove to Powell’s Books next, and I got a little choked up when we walked through the doors. I love that place and have many fond memories there. I consider Powell’s the single best thing about Portland. We wandered around for close to an hour, which is barely enough time to scratch the surface, really. Inspired by “Hamilton,” I picked up a couple of books on the American Revolution. Ahh, Powell’s. I shall miss you dearly.

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After shopping for books, we drove across the river to Rimsky-Korsakoffeehouse for coffee and dessert. I’ve mentioned this place before; we took blogging friends from Texas there when they were visiting Portland in 2016, and have gone a few times on our own. It was definitely on our list of places to visit again before moving. Besides having a very clever name, it’s the very definition of “keep Portland weird” – dim lights, flickering candles, creepy piano music, tables that move on their own accord, and a bathroom that defies description. I had a slice of warm ginger cake and a cinnamon latte, Tara got the chocolate pot de creme and a cinnamon mocha. Both were superb. We got back home around 10:00 and declared it a perfect night.

Today won’t be nearly as exciting, but also, we aren’t packing. So there is that.

Countdown: 69 Days*

*quit snickering

Lipstick on a Pig

As far as Friday the 13ths go, this one is anything but unlucky. The Moondoggies’ new album, “A Love Sleeps Deep,” came out today. It’s been five years since their last record; that’s basically an eternity in the rock ‘n roll biz.

If you are unfamiliar with our history with the band, let’s just say much like sleeping love, it also runs deep. They are basically the soundtrack to our relationship, and against all odds, I’ve developed a friendship with their lead singer, Kevin. I am not name-dropping, by the way; hardly anybody knows who The Moondoggies are! If I were going to do that, I’d talk about the time I shook Bruce Springsteen’s hand, lol.

Seriously, though. The new record was on heavy rotation for me today. And it’s awesome. Harder and heavier than their last album, and more topical. These are good things. Kevin embodies all that I appreciate: he is an anti-Trump, feminist, socially conscious rocker who plays in a band because he loves music. He doesn’t care that his band isn’t very well known. (Having said that, you should check out the album. He might not care about fame, but I’d love it if more people “discovered” them!)moondoggies-alovesleepsdeep

We’re going to see The Moondoggies play a show at Mississippi Studios next week. It’s bittersweet; it’ll be our eighth (and final, at least in the immediate future) time seeing them live. We’re not quite stalkers, but close. Unless they happen to play in Rapid City on some future tour, of course. Doubtful, but I do plan to run that by Kevin after the show on Wednesday.

I can also see us planning a trip back here timed around a show of theirs someday. This isn’t a permanent goodbye, guys.


Leave it to me to be a medical anomaly once again.

On Monday, I had an appointment to get my eyes checked. As far as I can recall, this was the first time I’d ever had a vision exam. There was no overriding reason for me to have one this week – I’m sort of the black sheep of my family, the only one who does not wear glasses – other than the fact that I’m covered under Tara’s plan and figured I might as well take advantage of what amounts to a free exam before we move.

I walked in there wearing sunglasses and proceeded to stumble around, bumping into walls and such, while making a general commotion. The front office staff laughed and Tara, who had arrived before me and had no idea I was going to make a grand entrance by faking blindness, said, “See what I have to live with?”

I considered that a compliment.

Because I’d never had an eye exam before, I was caught off guard when they puffed air into my eyes. For the record, they did not warn me in advance. After I jumped a little, I told the assistant to assume I knew nothin’ about what was coming next. Because, well, I knew nothing about what was coming next. The assistant apologized and told me she should have told me what to expect.

No shit.

Anyway. She asked me next if I wanted dilation (no charge) or hi-res photos of my eyes instead ($20). I asked her to tell me more about this dilation thingy, and she rattled off a laundry list of not-pleasant-sounding side effects that included sensitivity to light, dizziness, and nausea, but promised these symptoms would “only last 4–6 hours.” That was a no-brainer for me. I told them I would happily fork over twenty bucks to avoid that nonsense.

So they took some crazy up-close pics of my eyes, which the doctor put up on his monitor. He pointed out my retina, optic nerve, etc. Trippy. Everything looked good, though.

This was followed by the good ol’ fashioned eye chart. At least I knew what was expected of me at that point. Afterwards, he broke the news to me.

“You’re an unusual case,” he said.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that…

Turns out I am nearsighted in my left eye and farsighted in my right. Together, my eyes compensate for each other. I personally like to think of myself as having self-correcting vision, but the doc didn’t see it that way.

“You probably haven’t noticed any problems with your vision,” he said. A true statement. But then he had me cover one eye, followed by the other, and read more lines from the chart while trying out various prescription strengths on me. I couldn’t help but admit it: they made a difference.

So, the bottom line is this: he wrote me a prescription, but I don’t need glasses. At least not for regular, everyday use. He suggested a few different options: distance glasses for driving, especially at night; reading glasses; or progressive lenses to help with both. Now, I wasn’t falling for this sugarcoated “progressive lenses” crap and called him out on it.

“You mean bifocals?!” I shouted asked.

“We don’t usually refer to them in those terms,” he replied, stealing a page right out of the you-can-put-lipstick-on-a-pig-but-it’s-still-a-pig book.

Fine. WHATEVER.

Really though, I’m okay with this. I have nothing against glasses, per se. The doc said it’s unusual for somebody to have reached this advanced stage of life without needing any sort of corrective lenses, so I should just count my lucky stars that I’ve gone this far and been able to see fine.

Oh, also, the eye doc really needs to work on his bedside manner.

So Tara and I will take a trip to Costco at some point and I’ll go ahead and order up a pair. They will probably spend most of their time gathering dust in their case, but I’m willing to try them out in certain situations.


Work has been pretty busy, which means the days are chugging along quickly. We only have a little over two months before our move now!

Hardly a day goes by where a coworker doesn’t comment about this. One young lady happens to have grown up on a farm in a small South Dakota town nobody has ever heard of, and her family is still there. She came in yesterday and asked, “Did you see the weather forecast?!”

She was referring to the blizzard in Rapid City today. 🙂

I just smiled and said yes, I had. I check the weather there on a daily basis. Surprisingly, I still want to move there.

Even though a blizzard in mid-April is hard to fathom. It hasn’t exactly been summer-like out here – cool and wet – but that’s typical. Winter feels like it ended long ago. Meanwhile, in my soon-to-be hometown, the snow is piling up and the winds are howling. Good thing I like the white stuff, huh?

Countdown: 71 Days

Never a Duel Moment

I’m on a Hamilton high today.

Last night Tara and I went to see the hit Broadway show, which is currently playing in Portland March 20 – April 8 as part of its national tour. I was lucky enough to snag a pair of tickets, probably because I was online the second they went on sale. Literally. We are fans, and this was a Christmas gift for Tara. One that I also benefitted from!

How was it, you ask? So awesome, I have no words. But I am not throwing away my shot at trying to describe it anyway.

I’ve listened to the soundtrack a million times, but seeing it in person was a completely different experience. The way the cast members interacted with one another brought a whole new dimension to the experience, adding a bit of comedic levity to the show. The original Broadway cast might have moved on to bigger and better things, but these guys were no slouches. Much to my surprise, King George stole the show. We were also super impressed with the actors portraying Hamilton, Eliza, Angelica, and Jefferson. It was all so entertaining, those three hours flew by. I can easily declare this the best show, on- or off-Broadway, that I have ever seen.hamilton

Granted, I’ve never actually seen a show on Broadway, but I’m sure I’d still feel the same after last night.

Getting there proved to be a little stressful. We started out with a nice dinner and pre-show cocktail at the Doug Fir Lounge, our favorite music venue in Portland. I’m pretty sure this was the first time we went there for a meal only, and it did not disappoint. It was rainy though, and rush hour, so we crept and crawled over there. I was nervous about the time, but we arrived a few minutes before 6:00 and were actually the first ones there for dinner, so service was quick. We were out of there in less than an hour.

Then, on the drive to Keller Auditorium, we ran into a few delays, most notably a pair of emergency vehicles that came screaming past us, lights flashing and sirens blaring, and screeched to a halt, nearly blocking the entrance to the Hawthorne Bridge. Which we had to cross because the show was on the opposite side of the river. The nerve, right?! I was ready to jump out of my car and challenge the paramedics to a duel if they didn’t get out of my way pronto because Alexander and Aaron were scheduled to go toe-to-toe in only 20 minutes, but fortunately I was able to inch my vehicle around them and made it across the bridge without incident. Good thing, as these duels rarely end well. Plus, I suppose there was probably somebody who needed medical assistance. Fine!

In any case, we got there with about 15 minutes to spare. Whew! I was unable to buy a $9.50 glass of wine because the line was too long, but on the plus side, I saved $9.50 on a glass of wine. I pay $7.99 a bottle at Trader Joe’s. I’m no economics major, but I’d guess the vendor is making a killing.

Soon enough the lights dimmed, the crowd roared, and the ten-dollar founding father without a father who got a lot farther by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter, by being a self-starter, took to the stage with his ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower who were focused on defeating a global superpower, and the mad dash to get there was quickly forgotten.

Told you I was on a high.

In the end, we loved it! I’d go again tonight if I had tickets. Tara could not thank me enough for her gift; the evidence was right there in her happy tears.

The show ended at 10:30 and it took us a while to get out of the parking garage, but we were expecting this. I really wanted to stop at Voodoo Doughnut on the way back (this is on our farewell tour list and a midnight maple bacon bar would have totally hit the spot), but navigating Portland’s one-way streets after dark and trying to find a parking spot close enough to the doughnut shop but far away from sketchy people proved to be an impossible task. Oh, well. There’s still time.

But not much.

Countdown: 78 Days

Early Adopter?

I just now realized, this very moment, that when my friend/business associate Erik asked me at lunch the other day if I’d ever held a bitcoin in my hand after I joked about paying for the meal with the cryptocurrency, he was messing with me.

Because, digital currency. Duh.

It only took me 51 hours to get the joke.

Welcome to March. In like a lyin‘, I guess.


Have you guys heard about this Vero app that’s suddenly all the rage? If not, you’re probably living under a rock, because it’s been all over the internet. (If by chance you are living under a rock, got any room for me down there? The news is nothing but bad these days, man. Ignorance is bliss.)

I started seeing people on Instagram post about opening Vero accounts last weekend. So many were doing so that my curiosity was naturally piqued and I googled it to find out what all the fuss was about. And learned that Vero (“true social,” they call it) was being touted as “the new Instagram.”

I’m a huge fan of the old Instagram, but I’ll admit I was intrigued by the Vero premise:

  • Posts are sorted chronologically
  • It is completely ad-free
  • You can divide your followers into groups (acquaintances, friends, close friends, and followers) and post specific content tailored toward each group
  • The app gives you a soothing back rub after a bad day

OK, one of those statements is a ringer. But I’m not telling you which one. You won’t get that information out of me!

Those promises, coupled with the fact that the first million users get free subscriptions for life (they plan to charge a nominal fee in the future in order to earn revenue)  convinced me to download Vero to check it out for myself. Because its sudden surge in popularity overwhelmed its servers, there have been widespread reports of issues with the app: problems signing up, logging on, and posting. Fortunately, I have encountered few issues myself.

No sooner had I downloaded Vero than the backlash began. There’s controversy over its co-founder and CEO, a Lebanese billionaire linked to a construction company that went out of business last year, leaving its workers unpaid and mistreated. (To be fair, these reports fail to mention that Ayman Hariri left the company four years earlier and no longer had any association with it when they went belly up.) But bad publicity is a killer, so maybe the app is already dead. Vero will most likely be another flash in the pan, much like Peach, Ello, and Mastodon, all of which were declared the “hot new social media apps” before quickly flaming out. Hell, by the time you read this post, Vero may already be history.

But just in case it turns into something big, I’m in. I’ve always wanted to be an early adopter, and while I was the first person on my block to own a DVD player, I have been notoriously slow in catching on to other things in life. I couldn’t be bothered to pay for a computer in the early 2000s because, hey, I had WebTV! I never got into MySpace or “Arrested Development” when they were all the rage, either. It even took me a few years to discover Instagram, my go-to app for the past couple of years. Just once I’d like to get in on the ground floor, so I’m pulling for you, Vero. Don’t let me down, buddy.

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My initial thoughts are positive. The layout is clean and professional; I like the dark color scheme. It resembles a night-vision version of Instagram. I like that your posts aren’t limited to photos and video; you can also share or recommend books, music, and movies, and even post text updates. It’s sort of like a combination of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, borrowing the best features of each and leaving out the really annoying things, like ads, fake news, and random sorting.

We’ll see if it takes off or crashes and burns.

Countdown: 114 Days

Farewell, Pyeongchang

I can’t believe the Olympics are over now. They’d been a near-constant companion for 2+ weeks, and I’ll miss them. And when I say “constant” I mean that. This has been the view from my desk at work:

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I even had to move my coworker’s plant out of the way, as she rudely had it sitting atop her filing cabinet and blocking my view. The nerve of some people! Our IT department (that may be a generous description given that it’s really just one guy) was kind enough to hook up a laptop and play highlights from the previous day’s events. I was especially thankful for this after realizing I’d somehow missed the initial broadcast of the men’s snowboard cross, the one event I was most looking forward to. The games were a nice little distraction during the day, and we watched quite a bit at home, as well. Now, onto Beijing in 2022. How different my life is going to look then!


I’ve mentioned from time to time Mark & Tara’s PNW Farewell Tour, a list of things to do and places to see before we move. We settled on 26 items and have been able to cross off 11 so far. On Sunday we completed another – lunch and a movie at Kennedy School, one of the McMenamins flagship properties. We met up with our friend Chris for lunch and cocktails, then Tara and I saw “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in the theater there. Afterwards, we grabbed a few more drinks at one of the onsite bars before calling it a day. Great way to spend a rainy Sunday.

edgefield signI know we’re focused on and excited about our move, but I would like to devote some of these blog posts to our favorite places in Portland/Vancouver. I don’t want anybody to think we won’t miss things around here – that certainly is not the case. Now’s the perfect time to discuss one of those places – or in this case, a chain of those places. We are big fans of the McMenamins mini empire, a family-owned chain of pubs, breweries, hotels, theaters, spas, and music venues. Portland brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin opened their first cafe in 1974, founded a hospitality company in 1983, and acquired additional properties over the years. They focus on handcrafting their own beer, wine, cider, liquor, and coffee, and serve up terrific food – in fact, they are one of the 50 top craft brewers in the U.S. Their locations now number in the dozens, and they have been expanding into Washington state in recent years.

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Boiler Room Bar at McMenamins Kennedy School – very typical of their decor.

McMenamins is a unique place to spend a a couple of hours or even a whole weekend, if you are so inclined. It can best be summed up as an “experience.” Their larger properties, like the aforementioned Kennedy School and the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, are a labyrinth of bars, theaters, and restaurants. Our favorite is Edgefield, a sprawling former county poor farm in Troutdale that features a winery, golf course, distillery, and amphitheater, where we have caught many a summer concert on the lawn. Bonus: the hotel is haunted. We can personally vouch for that!

All McMenamins properties are decorated in artist-commissioned hand-painted murals that can only be described as whimsical – even exposed pipes don’t escape the artist’s paintbrush – and they sell a passport book in which you collect stamps that are later redeemed for prizes. Quite frankly it’s a brilliant business concept and always a great way to spend a day. And I haven’t even mentioned their legendary Cajun tots. There isn’t anything else quite like McMenamins. It will be missed!

Countdown: 117 Days