We had a blast.
The weather was fantastic - that kind of crisp, fallish-winter, sunny but cold kind of days. The drive down was largely uneventful and we checked into our usual Portland hotel, which is decidedly pet-friendly. Darbs didn't make a sound on the way down and we settled into our suite (which we got for $129 a night - unreal). I took Darbs for a long walk around downtown and the surrounding areas and we settled in for room service and movies.
Incidentally, Strongbad is funny, but not that funny.
The next day, we hit a great spot for breakfast that could only exist in Portland. Not often you hear Nirvana blasting on a Sunday morning, only to be followed by Michael Jackson's Thriller album. I ordered my usual protein fest, but got a side order of a pumpkin pancake.
Holy, holy shit. I won't ever forget how great that was.
We then hooked up with pea's sister Dayna and helped her with preparations. After a few errands, we hit Powells, which, again, could only exist in Portland. I got Anthony Bourdain's tome and immediately was hooked. We chilled for a few hours, I took Darbs for another long walk, then we headed out to the party, leaving Darbs alone in the room.
I was stunned that there were no calls from the front desk, as you aren't supposed to leave your pets unattended, but Darbs was too worn out to protest. The party was at the Ace Hotel, which is a hotel that can exist in both Seattle and Portland. Even though it was a Sunday night after a long holiday weekend, there were over a hundred guests there to celebrate Dayna, who, it must be said, is a goddamn treasure. We laughed, danced, visited, drank and generally had a blast. The pea's mother and sister Hailey (I know I am spelling that wrong) were there, and it was great to visit with them. Like any other family, they think they are dysfunctional and flawed, but, like almost every other family, they have a lot going for them and they genuinely love each other.
Mostly, it was truly heartening to see so many come out to celebrate Dayna. Her talent knows no end and she has really come into her own at the ripe age of 50. That family is so young, both in appearance and in spirit, and it is just a blast to be around them.
We retired relatively early, meaning we didn't stay out until 4am like the rest of them. I kind of wish we had, as Portland has a great nightlife, but we were beat. Darbs was glad to see us (understatement) and we hit the sack.
The next morning, after hitting the aforementioned Starbucks, we intended to hit Portland's burgeoning street cart scene, but after a survey of the options, all of which looked incredible, we both realized we wanted pizza. Specifically, Pizzicato, which has the most perfect crust I have ever tasted. After a festive night, it was the cure for what ailed us. The quattro formagio with roasted garlic was positively heavenly.
We finally hit the road around 2pm and again, Darbs was a perfectly quiet dog the whole way home. We had kind of freaked the night before, as we found two fleas on her, and she has NEVER had fleas, but these are the hazards of dog friendly hotels, I guess. She is back on the flea sauce, just to make sure it doesn't become a problem, but all told, it was a great trip.
Funniest part was actually today. Kimpton Group, which operates Hotel Monaco, sent me an email survey about the trip. I was 90% positive, lauding their staff (the best I've ever known), their rooms (huge), their location (perfect) and their amenities. The only thing I was mildly critical of was that our reservation hadn't made note of my requests (higher floor, etc.), the flea thing, and that our room service post-party tasted warmed over and was improperly prepared.
Within ten minutes of filling it out, I got an email from the hotel's GM, thanking me for my participation and apologizing for the few gaffes. Honestly, I had no substantive beef and was just giving feedback. His email said that he wanted me to book directly with him next time and that they would upgrade me to their finest suite upon my next visit.
Holy shit. That is customer fucking service. And mind you, I was only paying $129 a night, compared to their usual suite rate of $209 a night. Apparently, I am going to road trip down to Portland at least once more before the end of the year. Christmas shopping, I am guessing. God love Oregon and their lack of sales tax.