T-minus 80-something days till my wife and I make the trek down to SoCal.

We’ll be there for at least a year, but hopefully (depending on my job situation…and hers) we’ll be there for a few more. But finally knowing that we’ll be leaving, and there actually being a real date for the move, it’s really starting to feel like a lot of the things we do in Portland might just the “the last time we do” things.

I find myself putting an unnecessary amount of meaning on things like going to a certain neighborhood, going to a favorite bar, or even driving down a certain street. It’s been “the last time” we’ve gone to Por Que No, Henry’s and Cascade many times…which probably isn’t the best way to look at it.

In fact, we have so many friends here, that most likely we’ll be coming up to Portland for years to come. So, saying that it’s “the last time” we do anything, is probably a lie anyway.

Point being: Hannah and I love Portland, and instead of mourning the fact that we’re leaving, we’re doing our best to soak up the next three months and enjoy every single second of it. In honor of how much I’ve fallen in love with the PNW, here are my Top 10 Experiences in Portland, all in a neat little list for your perusal…Enjoy!

MULTNOMAH FALLS HIKE – Not really in any order, the first thing that came to my mind was an awesome day hike at Multnomah Falls with a few coworkers at UP. We didn’t know each other very well at the time, but it was a much needed, well deserved trip that came just a few weeks into hall director training, and only a few weeks after I first moved to Portland. It was a great bonding experience with a bunch of people I would soon come to call good friends. I took a LOT of photos that day too and most of them have ended up on this site, and even printed and put into frames somewhere in my apartment or office. It was a great day indeed.

MY WIFE – I would probably be remiss to not mention the fact that I met my wife two years ago in this fantastic city. It was in the hall of Villa Maria (the same in which I live/work) in which we met, began dating, and eventually started a few dates from as well. A little over a year later we met, we were wed and you can read all about it in glorious detail here–in which my wife is apparently writing a million-word novel about the topic. She is an amazing writer, and it’s been great to see just how much I don’t remember about our dating times, which were really only…last year. I don’t suggest that anyone reading this blog get married as quickly as we did. I mean, I have no doubt that we will spend the rest of our lives together, and I knew that pretty early on into our relationship, but if you have any doubts at all, it’s always good to take it slow. I count us as very lucky with many of the things we’ve learned about each other since we’ve been married. Not that there were any dealbreakers we didn’t know about each other or anything, but it’s always good to learn as much about your future spouse before you get married, whether that’s over 12 months or 5 years. Anyway, I love her. She loves me. I’d say it’s been a pretty dang good experience in Portland.

HOMEBREWING – It’s been a very fun, creative, educational experience and something that I’ve been able to continually learn and improve on with each batch. Homebrewing has definitely become a passion of mine and something that my brother and I have been able to bond over again and again. It’s been such a great experience to be able to mash, boil, ferment, bottle, age, and drink my own beer, as well as share it with others. Most of my batches I have had significant help on from friends and loved ones, which only sweetens the process. Recently, I was able to extend the love of brewing to two great friends of mine, Tyler and Andrew, who were gracious enough to let me help them brew up their first batch last month. It was a blast and I have high hopes for their wheat beer as well as their combined futures in homebrewing.

VILLA MARIA OPENING – I have experienced two of these phenomena in my hall, Villa Maria, and while as Hall Director, I’m technically the leader of the hall, I feel like I have merely experienced opening, rather than actually facilitated it. It’s a sight to behold indeed. It’s usually a warm day, the last weekend in August, in which 70+ freshmen arrive in dozens of cars, trucks and minivans. As they pull up to the front of Villa, dozens of student staff (or “Villans”) basically attack the car, say a quick, “Hi! This is Villa! Welcome to your new home! You’ll love it here!” and take all of their earthly possessions from their car to their new room. It’s a great experience for most, but understandably shocking and a bit off-putting to many others. While we try to prevent anyone from actually startling a parent of freshmen, it’s always great to see the enthusiasm that upper class Villans have for the first year students. And most of the parents are very grateful for the help in moving their child’s stuff. All in all, it’s a rare thing to witness.

RA PROGRAMS – Not just their programs, but the RAs themselves have impacted my Portland experience for the better, maybe more than anything else on a consistent basis (save…my wife…probably). The fact that we live and work together in the same building means that we’re constantly communicating, meeting, grabbing lunch and making sure that Villa doesn’t burn to the ground. Both last year and this year, the Villa RAs have been freaking fantastic. Their passion for the job, love of their residents, consistent hard work and thoughtful programming have constantly impressed me. While there have been some struggles here and there, being a part of the Villa staff with such upright, honorable, hilarious men has been an honor, and I will miss them more than I’ll miss any restaurant,¬†neighborhood, or any other part of Portland.

CAPE KIWANDA – While it may just look like another beach with a giant sand dune on it to some people, to me it represents two (and possibly three…) of the best days I’ve spend in Oregon. (I know, I know, this isn’t technically “in Portland”, but hey, we started out the journey in Portland, so get off it.) The first was when Hannah and I had been dating for a month or so, we decided to drive out to the coast to see the…coast. I hadn’t spent much time there, and we ended up just driving around for a few hours talking, but eventually we made it to Cape Kiwanda. It’s a gorgeous beach with an awesome restaurant/brewery to the left, a huge sea stack right in front, and a giant (200+ foot) sand dune to the right. It was a glorious day in which many photos were taken and it was just the start of some amazing things to come in our relationship. The other time I’ve gone to Kiwanda was with my RAs on our Staff Day Away. We ended up taking even more photos–most of which consisting of the RAs doing flips off of high cliffs and landing/sliding on the sides of the dune–and had a great time then as well.

THE FRUIT LOOP – My mother visited me in the fall of 2010 and because she doesn’t drink beer, I figured there’d be a lot of downtime during her trip to Portland–the microbrewery capital of America, and maybe the world. Fortunately however, a friend of mine told us about the “Fruit Loop”. It’s a day-long, 90-mile drive that takes you east of Portland, past Mt. Hood, then south through some vineyards and orchards, then back to Portland, on the south side of the mountain. It’s basically a lap around Mt. Hood, and a very picturesque one at that. We took a day and stopped at the various locations we had previously Googled. It was a very relaxing, fun day spent with my mom. We bought some homemade honey, an apple slicer and a lot of fruit and veggies. Definitely a fun time and a highly-suggested attraction, if you find yourself near Portland and have a day to kill.

TENNIS – I played tennis once last fall with my buddy, Tyler. Somehow, my wife’s parents found out about it and they bought us two tennis racquets for Christmas. While we were very grateful, I was a bit embarrassed because well…I didn’t play tennis. Since Christmas day, however, I have played at least 4 times a week. No joke. And almost every time has been for over an hour. I’ve gone from being incredibly terrible at this sport to being not as incredibly terrible. It’s been an amazing transformation. The best part about it has been spending so much time with Tyler and my (now) cousin, Richard. Between them and my wife, it’s usually not too hard to find someone willing to play with me and it’s a lot more fun than going for a run here and there. Definitely a sport that requires a lot more equipment than my normal workout (running, lifting weights, basketball, etc…), but as long as I have this awesome, indoor tennis center a few hundred feet from my door (thank you, UP tennis!), I’ll keep playing as much as I can!

THE PROPOSAL AND WEDDING – I’m lumping these two together because in my mind, they’re very similar. While they were six months apart, they included a lot of family, friends, and lots and lots of planning. While I won’t get into the details of either here–you can watch both of them on my YouTube channel–they were both defining aspects of Hannah and my lives. And while the planning of the proposal was a very intense, fun bonding experience with my boys, the planning of our wedding, was a much more intense, bonding time between my wife and me. It was a wonderful learning experience that ended in a great ceremony and truly was one of the best days of our lives. Two days of my life that I’m very proud of and grateful for being able to experience.

RARE BEERS – Being in Portland, I’m never too far away from a brewery, microbrewery, or even a nanobrewery. Plus, there are dozens of fantastic bottle shops in the city limits. There are more types of beers here than I can even fathom and learning about them, their histories, their flavors, and about the cultures (nice pun, Ben), has been a great and educational experience. I think the biggest thing I’ll walk away from regarding the Portland beer culture is the genre of sour beer. The first time I had one was in Seattle with my brother, Jason. It was a bottle of New Belgium’s La Folie and well, it blew my freaking mind. Definitely another passion of mine that Portland first introduced me to.




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