I crossed the bridge over the Columbia River, grinning at the Welcome to Portland sign, though it was so foggy I couldn't even see the river below me. I had found a Latino radio station and was listening to Tejano music, conjuring images of warmer climates in my head, incongruous with the cold mist all around me. With extremely limited visibility, it was not the easiest day to make the drive to Portland, but the trip was long overdue, and I didn't want to wait any more. Also, with just 5 weekends until leaving for Korea, many mini-trips are becoming imperative to go now or wait at least a year.
I wanted to see my old friend from college, Adam, who has lived there for over 4 years. Yes, I'm been meaning to visit him that whole time. We went for a walk around his neighborhood in Northeast, getting almost completely drenched in the rain. Then he took me to one of his favorite restaurants for dinner, called Biwa which does Korean-influenced Japanese food. It was almost Asian tapas style, with casual small plates from yakitori (grilled skewered meats) to fried kimchi to seaweed wraps to seafood pancakes to pickled sampler plates. It was really really good and took me until the next day to recover from the pork belly yakitori.
Then I visited another friend, Dan, who I met on Orcas two summers ago when we were both newbies on the island. Amazingly, the sun came out and we walked around the city, went thrift store shopping, hopped happy hours, ate great food, and finished the day with a drink at the Portland City Grill for a view from the 30th story.