As soon as the weather hints that it might get warm soon, and sometimes long before that’s a possibility, my brain gets completely preoccupied by the thought of traveling. I love hearing about new cities, I love reading travel blogs, and I love looking at other people’s vacation photos.
I usually try to plan a trip during the summer, but this has been a crazy one, between settling into my new job, not having vacation time until July as a result of said new job, and planning an apartment move. When my high school friends stayed with me here in Chicago a few weeks ago on the first night of their road trip to Idaho to go to our friend Jesse’s wedding, I thought I was going to die of envy. A drive across the country sounded so perfect, and I lived vicariously through them thanks to Facebook posts and pictures. Someday I too will see the Badlands.
Meanwhile, I’ve been going nuts for months now, not having a trip to look forward to. Ohio doesn’t count — sorry, guys — as trips back home are comforting in their familiarity, and not exciting in the same way that seeing a new city is. So! I’ve made a decision: I’m going to Portland. (And Seattle.)
Nothing is set in stone yet, but I’ve been approved for time off the first week in October, and Southwest has a great sale running until the 17th, so: Portland, brace yourself. I’m getting airfare Wednesday and I’ve got my eye on a great place in North Portland that I saw on airbnb.
My family made a point of taking a trip most summers, the biggest ones of which were our two-week trip to England/Wales/Scotland but also our cross-country Amtrak train ride. Until this past weekend, I was under the impression that I’ve never been to Portland, but my dad told me Sunday that our Amtrak train left us there at the end of our train trip. We only spent the day there though, and I was 11 and clearly wasn’t paying enough attention because I don’t even remember going to Powell’s.
I’d be lying if I tried to act like I’m not going to Portland because of “Portlandia”. That show makes it look like a beautiful, magical, amazing place and I will probably be let down by how grounded in reality the city actually is. But I don’t care about that right now.
I’m going to stay in Portland two or three nights, then either rent a car or take the train north to Seattle, stopping in Olympia, Washington on the way to see my cousin Paul. Then I’ll stay with Evan in Seattle for one night, or maybe two, depending on what all I fill my Portland itinerary with and how much availability he has that weekend.
I’ll stay by myself at an airbnb place like I mentioned, and I’ll rent a bike and tour the city. I’ll drink amazing coffee and eat gourmet scones and donuts and hike and see waterfalls and visit neighborhood bars and make conversation with strangers — hopefully in between spurts of writing inspired by the gorgeous scenery of the Pacific Northwest.
I’ve never been on a vacation to a city where I didn’t know anyone, by myself. It feels like a very freeing, independent, adult thing to do. I can’t wait.
I joke about my love of “Portlandia,” but it really has helped me cultivate this strange affection and attachment for an area I am not familiar with. I’ve been wanting to visit Portland for a long time, and I’m glad I am finally making it happen. Thanks to Jaimi for helping me accept that this plan is not weird — or even if it is, it doesn’t matter, because it’s going to be spectacular.