Saturday, January 29, 2011


Our descent into the valley was both beautiful and frightening. The first dip below the highest level of clouds gave my eyes their first view of Mt. Hood in all its snow-capped splendor. Resting ever so peacefully alongside the raging Columbia River, this mountain, as well as its river counterpart, have been romanticized in my head for ages. Now, they are reality.

Sinking even further into the moisture-rich valley, we start to level out for landing. Every widening river valley was consumed with fog, as if to stave off anyone who wished to enter. This was even moreso true of the valley that is home to Portland. From the plane, it was completely enveloped in fog and, at one point, it felt like we were just going to have to land on top of the clouds. After the plane parted the sea of cumulous, my eyes final set themselves on Portland. What a glorious sight it was indeed.

That was just my arrival. I still have two days of adventure ahead, but I'll tell you this, I love this place. Every street corner downtown hosts a bevy of bars, coffee shops, bookstores, record stores, vintage clothing shops, food trucks and musicians. Every person has been gracious and helpful. I'm well aware that I was told by several people, my parents included, not to fall in love with this place, but that notion might be impossible. For those that have not descented into this pristine valley, you can not know what treasures it holds.

From the moment I arrived, I have not had even the slightest bad meal. First taste was a Youcanhazcheeseburger at the food truck called Brunch Box. Consider the fact that this was an angus patty between two grilled cheese sandwiches, and you understand my joy.

Since then we have enjoyed the flavors of Le Pigeon, Mothers Bistro and Pok Pok. Each one rated in the top meals of my life. Every bite tiptoeing the line between epic and heavenly.

There has also been copious amounts of beer. Considering the amount of breweries and the relentless beer culture here, it would be a travesty to not enjoy the bounty. Everywhere from Rogue to Deschutes, all of the hobs-laden beverages have been redonkulous. Heck, even the Southern OR Porter from the hotel bar was probably the best, smoothest dark beer I have had the pleasure of drinking.

We have even done some exploring. Last night, we drove up one of the west hills to Council Crest Park to look out over the city. It was exactly as Donald Miller described it. Peaceful and bustling all in one breath. Millions racing home and living their lives while the clouds, sky and setting sun played a beautiful symphony for no one.

I am convinced that this place is special. I can feel the creativity coursing through my veins here. I can sense hope and clarity here. I'm not sure what this all means yet though. There is a battle raging inside me as I type these thoughts. The most repeated question is: where do I go from here? Perhaps it will take a while to discover. Maybe, I need to feel the warmth of the Valley of the Sun to learn where my place is. Maybe, what brought me out of my eastern home initially is calling me back. Or maybe, I need to set my ship on a new course. A course of discovery and renewing.

Where I go from here has not been decided yet, but wherever that is, I feel it will become home.
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