The weeks before this trip were flavored by an underlying sense of excitement which grew a little each day. Laura and I decided to travel up North to run a little race with some good friends, and the place was just a bonus: Portland!
The decision to go was basically based on two facts. Well not really two, more like 1 ½. Over the last couple years, through a continued maze of blogs, texts, meetups, and Facebook posts, Brad and Megan have become two of our closest friends from the Loop. I know you all have experienced it. Everyone there is supportive and interesting (an incredibly rare thing in online communities), but there are some you just click with a bit more. Those are the people who you make special trips to see because it makes your life better.
We probably would have gone anyway, but the chance to be present while Brad ran his very first ultramarathon sealed the deal! This guy has been floating through marathons for years and finally wanted to test the waters of longer distance on tougher terrain. We’d been telling him it’s easier, but the glaze of dubiousness always covered his eyes when he replied. Now he was about to get hooked, and we all knew it!
One of the best parts of the weekend was that we got to stay with Senorita Sauce for the entire duration. She has the coolest cozy place for chilling and talking, with bonus gummy bears at the ready. Megan has a definite bubbly bouncy persona in her blogs, one which is only made funnier when combined with the clever sarcastic side you get to see in person. All in all, just a fantastic person to be stuck with for days!
Brad is a dude you have to know for a while to really know. He is a big fan of exact figures and numbers, but that quality is tempered with a huge heart. Time spent with him is full of quick jokes and friendly ribbing, and whenever it’s time for goodbyes, it always seems too soon.
We had arrived and were getting to know Sauce’s Portland Crew (you know, thorough personal histories and theological discussions) when Brad and his friend Disco Stew arrived and we all proceeded to obtain the finest ice cream I have ever tasted. Salt & Straw for the win! It was then that I decided I liked Portland. A lot. Each place has a vibe, a combination of people’s energy and the city itself, which I suppose is a direct extension of that energy. Portland felt comfortable, creative, and relaxed.
To tell the truth, I actually didn’t want to have a set schedule ahead of time. Part of the fun was letting the weekend happen, and it did not disappoint. Saturday morning we met up with Annie and our new P-town friends (enormous dog in tow) and set off on the most amazing hike I’ve done. The forest was unbelievable! 12 miles of pure bliss, with the last 7 joined by Brad’s own local crew.
Sunday morning we pulled ourselves together and headed to a hometown breakfast place to meet up with Angie and her Hubby, who were a delight. It always amazes me how people we meet online can immediately feel like old friends, and this was no exception! We all gabbed and inhaled all sorts of breakfast vittles.
Afterwards it was time to check out what the ‘Couve had to offer, so we toured the historic Fort and Land Bridge. There were historical signs everywhere, and I enjoyed learning about how Native American culture had helped to shape the region’s identity.
Mildsauce was cordial enough to take us for a boat ride. It ended… regrettably.
The oldest apple tree IN THE WORLD!!!
Dinner at Annie’s was great. She graciously invited us into her home and fed us a huge load of delicious lasagna. For some reason I was ravenous, so in an uncharacteristically voracious move, I piled my pre-race plate high and devoured it all. The conversation flowed like miles underfoot, and I was sad to have to call it a night and rest up for race day.
I’m going to pause here for intermission. The race itself held too much to fit here without feeling like that drunk guy, sitting at the bar, you know, rambling on and on to the bartender, who’s basically stuck there and forced to listen in order to be polite, even though he’s anxious to get the story over with and share some comments of his own, just sitting through the longest run on sentence in the history of monologues, maybe in the history of history…