Portland Day 3: Textures and Layers

Jen and John preview-3.jpg

To me, the best thing about traveling is getting to unravel the many layers of a place; getting to know the people, the culture, the history and ultimately the city's character. As people are very obviously not one-dimensional, so too are cities many-layered and today was one of those days where I got to see Portland from many different perspectives. 

I started the day at the not-so-enjoyable hour of 5:30 am (I can feel myself slowly getting used to the time difference which made for a difficult morning) and made my way over the river - using 3 different buses, I might add - to meet Jen and John for their engagement shoot. I was pretty proud of myself for not only making it there, but actually getting there early. This pride was quickly doused by the puddle-smashing of a passing bus. I'm sure I'll talk about the shoot more in their blog post, so suffice it to say that this cute little coffee shop was a perfect Portland backdrop for portraits! The two were so pleasant to be around, too, making them really fun to shoot with, and went above and beyond by driving me to my next stop which saved me at least 45 minutes. On the drive, Jen and I chatted about our past and upcoming travels, getting to know each other well, and I had forgotten that while I love exploring by myself, it is also nice to make new friends. As Jen said, "Portland is a city of a bunch of people who do their own thing and we all support each other in doing it." In context, she was talking about artists helping artists but this seems to ring true in general. 

I had read about Keller Fountain Park, listing it as a priority for my scouting list, and while the fountain itself wasn't running, I was still far from disappointed with all the many levels, grungy textures, and overall urban playground feel of the location. And since it is made to hold water, it would actually be one of those places that would be better photographed in the rain. 

However, I myself was getting rather tired of none stop rain so I took shelter in the closest cafe - which happens to now be my favorite I've visited -  Revolucion Coffee House, the first Mexican cafe in Portland. The cozy space was instantly inviting and I actually ended up spending almost 3 hours there taking care of emails and blogging because I was so enjoying the atmosphere. The chicken and green chili tamale and champarado (a "dairy free and corn masa base drink with Mexican chocolate and cinnamon") were the proverbial icing on the cake, or perhaps the sour cream. I will make sure to visit again before leaving this trip. 

Eventually, I figured I should probably go somewhere else to allow another workaholic to enjoy the window seat so I set off to grab some lunch at the Alder St. food cart pod. Along the way, I got distracted by the line of museums and concert halls in the University District and ended up spending a solid 45 minutes just wandering around scoping out more portrait spots, enjoying a pleasant walk through the park and creepily following a random dude to get a shot of his outfit. As much as I really want to take more street portraits of strangers, it has been a long process working up the courage to do so. 

After plenty of meandering and a couple times walking in the wrong direction, I finally found the food cart pod and walked around the entire block twice before settling on the tried-and-true Altengartz, the only remaining of the original three carts there. This mobile German brats and burgers joint takes pride in serving strictly meat brats with only casing and spices, no preservatives or additives, and while I'm not entirely sure I could taste the difference in that, I can say with certainty that it was one of the best brats I have ever had. The caramelized onions and dijon mustard complimented it nicely, but the juicy and flavorful sausage was really the star. 

Belly full, I jumped on the bus again to head back to the house, making a detour to the gardens along the way. I was most excited about the Japanese garden because I had a feeling it would be a gorgeous portrait spot, and I was right in that, unfortunately they have a strict policy of prohibiting portrait shoots there. At first I was sorely disappointed, wondering if I could somehow strike up a deal with them, but quickly realized that this was probably because they wanted to preserve the sanctity and peace of the garden for its patrons as well as respect the surrounding nature. Nonetheless, the gardens were meditative, beautifully green and flowing, and totally worth the payment. But, to get my money's worth (even though they're not connected) I crossed the road to the International Rose Garden where they have hundreds of test patches for an incredible variety of roses. I came rather at the wrong time as the plants were all just barely sprouting out of the ground, hardly any color in sight, but I can image that they look quite lovely in the summer. As this was also a scouting session, I did play around a little bit with garden ring shots. Sure does help to carry your own props with you! 

After getting my fill of gardens and deciding that I was finally soaked through, I (after waiting at the stop for 20 minutes at least) headed back to Beaverton. Tired as I was, the day was still not over as I had to do my workout, but the skies had finally begun to clear leaving me a beautiful evening to run in. I once again ran down by the lake, enjoying the somnolence of the rain at dusk. I quickly broke that, though, by sneezing machine-gun-style and getting a sneeze echo back a couple seconds later because the houses were just at the right distance away. 

The funny thing is that as I write this, I've already got another full day of adventuring under my belt. Eventually, maybe I'll catch back up but probably not