Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dating My Wife

The only thing that I didn't plan for was the heat.

Not as hot as asphalt paving Friday - nothing's that hot. And not as hot as the forecasters promised - it was 99, not 103. But that's still pretty damned hot.

But we weren't going to let the heat turn us back. We had the babysitter (Peeper's beloved Nanny Jen) and the B&B and the restaurant all set. So at 10:30 we saddled up on our bikes and rode away with Missy and Peeper hugs still necklaced about us.

It had been...well, honestly, I'm not sure HOW long it'd been since we'd gotten a whole 24 hours to ourselves. Last August, maybe? A long time, anyway. And now we had a whole day and evening and morning to go on a date with each other.


We rode slowly along the bluff down Willamette Drive, through the pretty Overlook Neighborhood (home to Overlook House, one of the cool things in North Portland and site of our wedding reception back in 2002.)

Below us the freight cars were banging in the Union Pacific yard, an old Peeper fave, but we glided on past and turned down past adidas Portland. Sprout's mommy was home rather than working Saturday, we hoped, although the last time Mojo rode home through adidas she did encounter Sproutmom on the skybridge; we both thought it was nice of Kelli not to hold Mojo's Pumas against her.

Much as we love Sprout's Mommy, though, and think that the minisoccer/futsal and tiny basketball and tennis courts are really nifty, we both agree that the exterior of the adidas buildings is...well, pretty fugly.What do you think?

From the mini-fields behind adidas we clmbed up into the cool little funky neighborhood by Beach Elementary. We sailed on, well south of Extremo the Clown's house, past the nice little park west of Beach School and then up over the Going Street overpass. This NoPo oddity is unique in having TWO adjacent city parks; Sy (or Si?) Stanich Park below the ramp at the south end and "Roy Beach" Park (also identifed as "Converse Park" by a wag with a closet full of odd Chuck Taylors and a nailgun).One thing we didn't notice on the way across were the iconic locks dangling from the chainlink overhead.Were they gone? Had some faceless Portland City plod with the soul of a concrete mixer come and cut them off? Now I feel the need to go back and find out.

We zipped down Bess Kaiser hill and across the Broadway Bridge. Our destination? the "Tour de Fat", a bike-o-rama sponsored by the New Belgium Brewing folks playing that day down at Waterfront Park. After a quick cooling dip in the fun fountain over at Jameson Park (site of Peeper and Missy's Big Bastille Day Adventure, remember?)we pedalled down to the Park to check out the action.Portland is a curious sort of place for cyclists. There's the bulk of us; recreational cyclists (that'd be me), bike commuters like Mojo and our friend Meg, cycle racing types and fairly hardcore riders both competitive and rec league levels. And then there's the "bikisti"; the folks who live to ride, whose life and identity appear to center around their bike. Or, often the other side of the same coin it seems to me, around NOT driving a car. This group includes some hardline ecology types, vegans, natural-fiber-wearers and anti-big-oil conspiritarians. A spattering of all the above were on hand yesterday, and here they are...But the day was hot, and after a bit of quick fun riding the quirky trick bikes we headed for some air-conditioned raw-food goodness sure to soften even the hardest slow/whole foodie's heart:

Sushi Takahashi!! Banzai!!

We loaded up on icy cold water and debated which was better: money, sex or tempura tai, one of Sushi T's signature goodies. We raided the sushi train for the more common delicacies, the everyday nigirizushi, the hamachi, the sake, the tobiko...always waiting for the crispy and flaky goodness of the 'tai; the sting of the house sauce, the buttery meatyness of the hot tilapia within.


One need temporarily sated, we jogged up to Powell's City of Books ostensibly just to windowshop. But, as it happened we both found something we wanted; Mojo a companion to her "Potatoes Not Prozac" volume, me the latest in the Naomi Novik Temeraire series. The only difficulty was finding a place in our already-full pack and panniers. But we shoehorned our books in place and wheeled back down to the Touristas to catch out favorite two-wheeled showgirls, the Sprockettes. The "all female synchronized mini-bike dance troupe" was a powerpack of pink-and-black energy in the heat of the midafternoon, and they put on a fun show.I noted that my bride made a perfect Sprockette in her cute n' stylish pink-and-black biking togs, and like the 'Kettes, their biggest fangirl took to Salmon Street Springs right after the show to cool off:Safety Tip: SSS is NOT an actual spring! It's a water fountain! That recycles its water! So that 40-ouncer, that preschooler's urine? Right back atcha! (with a little filtration, of course...) So - don't drink the water! But ahhhh! Much cooler, thanks.It was getting late and time to head up Terwilliger Boulevard to our home for the night. Terwilliger is an artifact of the sort of turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century city planning that produced places like New York's Central Park...and by the same guy Here's the skinny from a 2004 Portland State publication:
"Olmsted outlined a pervasive structure of parks and parkways that began by proposing a large forest reservation between Riverview Cemetery and the southern suburb of Lake Oswego (partially achieved today with Tryon Creek State Park). An informal "picturesque" parkway would run from Riverview Cemetery along the eastern foot of the West Hills, connecting the downtown park squares, Washington Park, and passing by Macleay Park up to what is now Forest Park. Terwilliger Boulevard today is part of this proposed city-length parkway, as are Skyline Boulevard above and Lief Erikson Drive through Forest Park. East of the river, he proposed a river bluff parkway from Sellwood to the current site of OMSI, McLoughlin Boulevard being a remnant of Olmsted's planned road. In the middle of the river, he proposed Ross Island as a park. Another parkway (Willamette Boulevard) would run north approximately from N.E. Broadway along the river bluff above the rail yards and Mock's Bottom to the University of Portland. A great meadow park in the Columbia Slough, just west of where Portland International Airport now sits, would preserve the bottom land scenery near the river. A vast expanse of this area is now preserved in greenspaces, wetlands, forests, and parks. Olmsted then proposed running a series of boulevards from Sellwood Park to Ladd's Addition, out to Mt. Tabor Park and then north, up to Columbia Slough Park and back over to the proposed parkway on the bluff above Swan Island. Like Boston's Emerald Necklace, designed by his stepfather Frederick, John's proposed park system—elongated and connected—would provide nearly a greenbelt across and around the city.
Pretty cool neh?

It's a lot more wooded than it was in the 1920's, and we took the gentle hill slowly to beat the heat, enjoying the quiet trail and the break from the oppressive sun.

Along the way we passed the handful of expensive houses that Portland's rich had managed to get built along the road; not many - the steep hills, heavy rain and frequent landsides that the combination create have prevented this part of Portland from becoming another Forest Heights, where the tiered stacks of grand houses are suggestive of nothing so much as a fancy wedding cake. Emblematic, my old field assistant Barry used to sneer, of the crumbs inside.

The icing on our cake was just up the hill from Terwilliger on SW Westwood: "Britannia at Terwilliger Vista".

As advertised, this pretty, large "elegant Georgian Colonial located in the residential Terwilliger Heights area sumptuous rooms offer luxurious accommodations..."

And the accomodations were, indeed, large, airy, and best of!

We enjoyed a long cold bath in the wonderful big tub. And then an even more enjoyable laze with nary a little voice to roust us or little body to scale us. We were able, for the first time in a long time, to just enjoy each other's company. To kiss and cuddle, to have an entire long lazy afternoon just to ourselves.

Those of you with kids understand the topgallant delight implicit in that simple phrase. Those who don' me. It's really, really good.
Not much more to tell. An unhurried evening with dinner at Portland's Chart House watching the moonrise over our city. A hand-in-hand walk back to the breezy room and the quiet house.

A late morning with no more to do than eat breakfast and slowly ride home. To a happy baby girl showing off her brand new "glash!" (glasses)and a little - big - boy who wants to be a bikista like dad and mom and "the Tour de France guys".Well.

I hope you and yours had a good weekend, too.


walternatives said...

Such a rich post, where to begin?
The Adidas buildings remind of the Netherlands and its taste for whimsical architecture. Not my cuppa joe, but I appreciate it. Glad y'all got to enjoy the Tour de Fat; we loved it here, too. What happened to the locks? Please update once you investigate. Sounds like you two had a delightful date. Thanks for sharing it with us.

sheerahkahn said...

Now that is what I call packing a weeks worth of vacation into a 24 hour period.
Since my wife has been out of work we've gone cheap on our dating. We have date night on Friday and Saturday night, and either its TiVo or netflix, or the red box in front of the store.
Of course, my boys are 15 and 19, so its kinda easy for me and my wife to keel-haul them if they interrupt our evening.
But yeah, that building...boy howdy, thats a building only a blind man could like.

wzgirl said...

Glad you guys had such a great weekend - sure packed a lot in. Makes me feel verrrry lazy. Sushi dinner sounded amazing. yum.

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing your tour de Portland. It was a wonderful travelog, and one feels as if one were along for the ride.

With those shades, Missy will give Bono a run for his money one day.

Rebekah said...

Wow, where is that sushi place? It sounds soooo good. What a great date day/night. :)

FDChief said...

W: Y'know, you're right - the adidas cluster DOES look kinda Dutch. It's not that I don't like it per se, it just is SO unlike anything around it.

I'll check out the locks this week. I'm really curious, too.

Sheerah: This was a one-off special for my bride's 42nd birthday. Like I said, we literally hadn't taken a break from momanddaddying for almost a year. And it'll probably be another before we go again...

Wzgirl, rebekah: There's two of these Takahashi places, one downtown on 6th and Burnside, the other closer to Terwilliger off of 4th, and they do rule. Wednesday and Saturday are half-price days, and that's some great grubbin' for a tiny little price!

Lisa: thanks; yes, Missy loves her little Dora glasses. This morning she was utterly adorable; after her diaper change she demanded that I take off her jammies AND get her "glash", so she was running around sky-clad other than her shades watching Olympic triathlon. What a sweetie.