New Year’s Eve In Portland

There are a lot of things going on in Portland on New Year’s Eve, too much for me to list it all.  If you are just looking to party pretty much any bar in town will have something going on.  For those looking for the clubbing/bar hopping crazy shenanigans I suggest the entertainment district.  That is not my scene, however, so I thought I would suggest few things other than going to a bar or club.   Continue reading

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How To Earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles, Lots Of Them!

To earn lots of Alaska Airline miles, forget flying, instead repeatedly sign up for the Alaska Airlines credit card.  Over the years, I have earned over one million frequent flyer miles and points and I did it mostly without flying.  I did it by signing up for credit cards with large mile or point sign up bonuses.  I sign up for about 7 – 9 credit cards a year.  Without these miles it would be impossible for my family of 4, on a single income, to travel.  With these miles we can travel to Hawaii for next to nothing and my wife and I can fly to Paris in international business class for less than $600.   Continue reading

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How to Use Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles: Airline Partners and Routing Rules

As I detailed in this post, my favorite way to save money on travel is with frequent flyer miles and hotel points.  In fact, I think it is the way to save money on travel.  A miles currency that is often overlooked is Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.  Being a Portland based flyer I tend to fly this airline most often and I have earned a few miles over the years.  I like Mileage Plan miles a lot.  I think they offer great value and a lot of flexibility so you can do a lot of traveling at very little cost.   Continue reading

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Starting Tonight The Lights Are On At Peacock Lane

Peacock Lane has been a Portland Christmas tradition going back to 1929.  Peacock Lane is a 4 block street near Laurelhurst Park that lights up every Christmas. Pretty much every house on the street will have a Christmas light display.  When I was a kid I loved going to Peacock Lane.  There was usually hot chocolate, horse drawn carriages, and some times Santa would show up.  Although I understand this year that there will be no horse drawn carriage rides available, bummer.  It has been a long time since I have been to Peacock Lane and tonight we are taking the kids, weather permitting.  The lights turn on at 6:00 PM and it is free.

If you are coming from downtown Peacock Lane is a straight shot across the Hawthorne bridge.  Drive east on Hawthorne to SE 39th and SE Hawthorne and take a left on SE 39th. Peacock Lane is just off of 39th and runs parallel to 39th between SE Stark and SE Belmont.  Here is a map.

You can drive through Peacock Lane, but I would highly recommend that you don’t. This is a very popular Portland tradition and you would be nuts to try and go through there in a car.  I suggest parking a few blocks away and walking.  Also, tonight and tomorrow will be pedestrian only.

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The Grotto’s Christmas Festival Of Lights

The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights is a Christmas light and music festival at The Grotto on NE 82nd and Sandy in Portland.  The festival starts on the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs through December 30th.  The Grotto’s light festival has been on my to do list for many years and this weekend, I finally had an opportunity to take the family and check it out.

The history of the Grotto, or by its formal name The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, is interesting.  The Grotto is a Catholic shrine and sanctuary in Portland.  You can read a good overview of the Grotto’s history here.  The cliff notes version is that a friar from Canada came to Portland and in the 1920s, raised money from around the country to build the sanctuary and carve a chapel out of a basalt cliff face.  A replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta was placed in the shrine and the shrine even received a blessing from Pope Pius XI.

During Christmas time the paths around the Grotto’s chapel are transformed into a light display.  There is also caroling, a petting zoo, and a food court area.

Grotto Christmas Lights Shrine

Grotto Christmas Lights Chapel

 

Grotto Christmas Lights Tree

 

Grotto Christmas Lights Path

 

Grotto Christmas Lights Exit

In addition to the Christmas light festival there are also 5 nightly concerts at 5:15, 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00.  Volunteer choirs come from all over the state to participate in the concerts.  The concerts take place in the Grotto’s chapel.  The choir that was performing the night that we were there was pretty good.  We were only able to stay for one song since the baby was starting to get restless.  Perhaps next year we will actually stay and enjoy the whole concert.

General admission to the Grotto Christmas Festival of Lights is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $4 for children (3 and up), and free for kids under 2.

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Random Order: Portland’s Pie Bar

The other night I finally made it over to a place I have been wanting to try for awhile now, Random Order.  Random Order is so very Portland.  It is a coffeehouse and bakery by day, and a pie and cocktail bar by night.  As soon as I head about Random Order I knew I had to try it.  Random Order combines two of my favorite treats, pie and cocktails, how could it be bad?

As it turns out there was some bad with the good, but the good was so very very good. First let me start with the bad, the cocktails.  I had a ginger toddy with ginger infused whisky.  It sounded good so I thought I would give it a try.  It ended up being just ok.  I thought it was a little bland.  My guess as to why is that the whiskey they infuse is probably well grade whiskey.  I never asked them what brand it was but the drink was only $7 so that is my educated guess.  On the other hand, my wife had a coffee drink with brandy, crème de cacao, coffee liqueur and whipped cream.  My wife thought it was pretty good – and strong!  So the cocktails may be hit or miss.  I would skip the hot toddy though.

Now, on to the good stuff.  Oh my lord is that pie good!  I am a sucker for a good pie. Personally, I think it is very hard to beat a good home baked pie.  I happen to be spoiled by being married to a woman who makes a killer apple pie.  I also have an aunt who makes a variety of equally killer pies.  That being said I think Random Order is perhaps the best “store bought” pie I have had.  The crust on Random Order’s pies are phenomenal. To be fair, though, these are hardly “store bought” pies.  They are home made pies that happen to be sold in a commercial setting.

Random Order has a variety of pies to choose from, both cream and fruit.  Some of their pies have even received some national attention, such as the Tahitian Vanilla Salted Caramel Apple Pie and the New Deal Coffee Cream Pie.  Unfortunately, neither of these were available the night we went.  Instead, I ordered the Brandied Peach Pie, my wife ordered the Chocolate Cream Pie, and a friend ordered the Apple Blackberry Pie.

I prefer fruit pies over cream pies and I am glad I tried the brandied peach.  It was very good.

Random Order Peach Pie Portland, Oregon

Both the crust and the filling were fantastic.  I ordered it with a side of whipped cream. However, I ended up eating most the pie without the cream because I thought the cream masked the delicious flavor of the pie.

My wife’s chocolate cream pie was also pretty good.

Random Order Chocolate Cream Portland, Oregon

 

I only took a couple of small bites of the chocolate pie but I thought it was good, but I still prefer the fruit pies to the cream pies.

Random Order is a place you should add on your list of places to try while in Portland. Random Order is a great place to unwind in the evening.  Can you think of a better way to unwind than pie and cocktails?  I sure can’t!

Random Order Coffeehouse & Bakery on Urbanspoon

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