Should I Write a Portland Travel Tips eBook?

I know, I know, I said I was going to retire this blog.  Well, I did say semi-retire the blog.  I was having dinner with a friend of mine and he suggested that I turn Portland Travel Tips the blog into an ebook.  I thought it was a great idea but I wonder how much interest there would be in such a thing.  I have lots of great tips and advice about Portland buried in three years worth of blogging. Maybe it makes sense to condense it into an eBook.  What are your thoughts?  Do you read ebooks?

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I’ve Decided to Semi-Retire this Blog

After 2.5 years of blogging I have decided to call it quits – sort of.  Blogs posts are going to become uncommon and sporadic. Once I moved out of Portland I feel weird dolling out advice on Portland.  The fact of the matter is that to also do this blog right I need to go out a lot and I just don’t have the time anymore.  I’ve also switched my attention to something else that has sucked away whatever free time I had to work on this blog, the reselling stuff.

When I started reselling I had mentioned my idea for a second blog on the subject.  I didn’t think that I would have time to maintain two blogs so I put that idea on the shelf.  Since then I have been posting about reselling on this blog, but it does not fit.  I had a choice if blogging about reselling is what I want to do then I needed to choose between this blog or a new one.  In the end I chose a new blog, milespointsreselling.com.

For the miles and points enthusiasts that read this blog I hope you come along and read it as well.  The blog will be a chronicle of my attempts at reselling and other avenues for earning miles and free travel.

At the end of the day I can’t believe I kept at this as long as I did.  I am also shocked at how many people read this blog on a daily basis.  I will continue to respond to all comments and emails.  I will also post something occasionally, but only when there is something that I feel like is important to get out there.  I hope you come over to the new blog and read it.

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Ahhh, Fall is here.

I guess technically it is still summer but geez the weather changed in a hurry.  We went from record high temperatures, the hottest July (or was it August?) on record, to cool weather and clouds overnight.  As a dyed in the wool Oregonian I of course welcome the change.  Autumn is on of my favorite seasons and I think September is the best month of the year.  We still get the occasional 80+ degree day but it is also sprinkled in with the cool brisk sunny days that Oregonians know and love.  Oh and Football starts.  Go Ducks!

I thought I would take a moment and mention my favorite fall activities.

  • Duck Football
    • If you are a sports fan and you happen to be visiting Portland during football season, make a trip to Autzen.  Tailgate and take in the whole experience. Some even think we have the best tailgate experience in all of college football.
  • Fruit Loop 
    • I love the fruit loop.  The fruit loop is a drive around stoping at various orchards, farms, and wineries.  Every year in the fall we go to Draper Girls Country Farm and pick Honey Crisp apples.   Mandatory stops for us also include the Apple Valley Country and Hood River itself.  If you want to take in one of the best patios of any brewery in Oregon make a stop at Solera Brewing.
  • Bruch
    • If you have not caught on Portland is big into brunch.  I’m not sure why.  I am not much in to brunch during the summer.  In the summer I like to get up and get out early.  Autumn? When the rain comes? Not so much.  Check out Pine State Biscuits, Gravy, Tasty and Sons, and the plethora of other places in Portland offering a solid brunch.
  • Beer + Fire Pit
    • When the weather turns cool I love relaxing next to a fire pit and drinking a good beer.  PDX Eater offers a list of 15 spots in Portland with fire pits.
  • Drive to the Coast
    • I know this sounds weird right?  The whether is getting cooler and the rain is coming.  Take a drive down the Nehalem River towards the coast and tell me this is not a great time of year.

If you like this picture you can buy it from www.strengthinperspective.com

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The Death of Old Portland

In the last week both Portland Monthly and Willamette Week have brought up the topic of the death of Old Portland.  Willamette Week is conducting a poll online about when Old Portland was born and when did it die.  I think it is an interesting question.  Those of us who have been in Portland for 20+ years can feel that there is something different.  What it is different is hard to say.  This is going to be my probably lame attempt at putting a finger on it.

First we have to answer the question of what is Old Portland? Old Portland is hard to explain but this poster about sums it up.

What is the significance of this poster?  Well the guy would be Portland’s former mayor Bud Clark.  He was a bar owner in Goose Hollow who was elected mayor in the mid 80’s. If a picture is worth a thousand words, that poster sums up Old Portland better than anything I could write.  To me it demonstrates a city that is gritty, blue collar, but also likes some of the finer things in life.  The photo was taken in 1978, before Bud Clark was elected mayor but it made him famous and probably helped his bid for mayor.

In 1984 Bud Clark was elected Mayor, Higgins Restaurant opened, and BridgePort Brewing Company opened.  Higgins was one of the first restaurants in Portland that focused on local fresh ingredients and was a seminal restaurant in Portland that started the foodie craze that we all know and love today.  BridgePort was the first craft brewery in Oregon and is a founding father of the craft beer industry.  The confluence of the food, the beer, and the attitude represents to me the birth of Old Portland.

Is Old Portland Dead?

Hand2Mouth seems to think so and will be hosting a funeral with eulogies and all.  I think I tend to lean towards yes and the death was recent.  While I don’t think I can pinpoint Old Portland’s exact death, I am pretty confident that I know when the terminal illness kicked in.

Ok, ok, I don’t think Portlandia killed Portland, but it represents something that did. Portland becoming popular both nationally and internationally.  The popularity combined with the economic recovery and growth in Portland killed Old Portland.

There has been an explosion of growth in parts of Portland.  Portland has become an it thing, which is decidedly not Old Portland.  There are more out of staters moving to Portland, the housing inventory and rental inventory is non-existent and it is pushing Portland into unaffordability.

Is the growth and change in Portland a bad thing?  Well, certainly the traffic sucks a lot more than it used to.  But the answer to that probably depends on who you ask.  The one fight I find to be an entertaining side show is the hipster vs. yipster fight.

Portland has changed, Old Portland is dead, but such is life; cities evolve just like people. No doubt there are cool things to come in the New Portland (MLB anyone??).  But I do miss the Old Portland.

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Oregon Brewers Festival Starts Today

Image from oregonbrewfest.com

Portland has lots of fairs, festivals, and celebrations.  Pretty much year round there is a good chance something is taking place.  But without a doubt, my favorite is the Oregon Brewers Festival.  It is the largest outdoor craft beer festival in the country and I find it to always be a good time.

The festival starts today at noon.  There is also an opening day parade which will start at 11:30 from Metalcraft Fabrication at 723 N. Tillamook Street.  The parade usually involves a few hundred people and this year the grand Marshal will be Kurt and Rob Widmer.  They along with a couple other of local brewers started the OBF 28 years ago.  The parade goers will also be accompanied by the Transcendental Brass Band (who by the way are awesome),  The parade is a goofy fun time and I encourage you to take part if you can.

Admission to the festival is free.  However, to taste beer you will need to buy a mug and tokens.  A piece of advice, and I have no scientific validity to what I am about to say and may also be attributed to beer goggles, however…  A full mug is four tokens, a partial mug is one token.  I’m convinced that two partials equals a nearly full mug, close enough that it is not worth paying the extra two tokens to make the difference.  So, if you are going to be there for multiple days.  Considering buy two mugs, get a partial pour in each for 1 token, and then combine the two.  I would only advise this if you are planning on going for multiple days because it takes a few beers to make up the difference and even come out ahead due to the cost of the extra mug.  Have fun and be safe.

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Why I moved to the ‘Burbs

It was not too long ago, where I would have scoffed at the idea of moving out of the city and off to the suburbs.  The following commercial pretty much sums up my life trajectory in the last 10 years.

There are many things that I will miss about Portland, and some things that I won’t.

THINGS I WILL MISS ABOUT LIVING IN PORTLAND

  1. Restaurants
  2. Trimet
  3. Easy Entertainment Options
  4. Parks Galore
  5. My Favorite Neighborhoods

THINGS I WILL NOT MISS ABOUT PORTLAND

  1. Tweakers
  2. Tent Cities in Downtown Portland and Central Eastside
  3. Terrible Public Schools
  4. Hipsters

The bottom line for us that pushed the move out of the city was two things.  One, was space.  We needed a bigger house.  We were living in your classic Portland craftsman bungalow.  We had about 1200 square feet of actual livable space in our house.  When it was just my wife and I it was not a problem.  When we added our oldest son it was doable.  When our youngest arrived it was manageable until the last year when we were living with a toddler and a pre-k in 1200 square feet.

The second reason for moving is public schools.  Portland, along with many other public school districts in Oregon, has been in a downward spiral since Measure 5 passed in the early ’90s.  West Linn some how has managed to avoid that trajectory and is one of the best public school systems in the state.  We went from sending our children to a failing school to one that is a spanish immersion school and in the top 10% of statewide performance standards. While I realize that urban flight of highly educated professionals to suburbs does not help urban schools, it can hardly be blamed for the failure of Portland’s schools.  If anything it is just a symptom of a larger problem.

I miss already the easy access to fantastic restaurants and neighborhood pubs.  Thank goodness it is summer and I love barbecuing.  Today on the menu are smoked spare ribs! So time to go mow the lawn, turn on the barbie, go to home depot, and maybe bed bath and beyond if we have time.

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Rental Car Upgrades After Winning a Bid on Priceline

Reader, htownzsos, left the following question on my using Priceline for rental cars page. The question brings up some good points so I thought I would answer the questions here on the main page.

Awesome article Scott really appreciate your post on the matter, never tried it this method but got a trip to the DC area and nyc week long in the works so have hit the internet for planning.

 

I was wondering if the method above works in this situation if I win the bid for a compact, midsize or even full size, at my comfortable price, would I be able to get to the rental counter and ask for an upgrade for a full SUV such as a chevy suburban and pay $10 – $20 extra per day?

 

My ultimate intent is to get the chevy suburban or similar for 8 people we actually have 12 people so might be getting two rentals, or do you think it’s better to get a 15 pass van, not much room for price discounts if we get a 15 pass van since limited places would have them in my opinion but would like your thoughts on it.

 

I’m aware how the rental sales men work on commission and that things like upgrades and the damage waiver are what they try to target to sell anyway. So I assume it would work anyways but just wanted your thoughts on it?

 

I know this would work under normal conditions had i just made a reservation then ask for the upgrade because my buddies do it when they go to vegas by booking a minivan then at the counter ask for the suburban for extra $10 per day, and works just fine, and they don’t use priceline bidding just normal travel sites.

When it comes to upgrading a rental car you got through bidding on Priceline, I would say that 80% of the time I get an upgrade from lot attendant and I have never paid for the upgrade.  In December when we went to Hawaii, I got a full size car and ended up being upgraded into our choice of a minivan or SUV (we went with the SUV).

Although, I would never plan on an upgrade because I am not willing to pay for it, your situation is different given your willingness to pay.  However, I think the cost of upgrading from a compact or full size to a suburban would be prohibitive, assuming they even offer you such an upgrade.  Your friend’s situation is a little different given that they are not bumping up as far category wise.

My advice, since Priceline does not allow bidding on 15 person passenger vans, would be to go get the smallest car you can live with, in this case probably a mid-size SUV, and work the upgrade at the counter from there.

Bottom line is that more often than not you will get an upgrade for free, either at the counter, or from the lot attendant.  But to make your vacation more enjoyable plan around your minimum needs.  The last thing you want to do is get stuck with a car that won’t work.

Good luck and when bidding on Priceline, don’t forget to use my link, it helps support this blog.  Your support is appreciated.

 

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I’m back!

Sorry for the dry spell folks.  The last few months have been crazy.  We sold our house back in March.  We closed in April and moved out without having found a new home.  I had incorrectly assumed that the craziness of the Portland housing market was contained to areas close in to downtown.  Turned out I was half right.  We were focussing our search in the Murray Hill and Bethany areas in Beaverton.  Two months and 8 offers later!!! I was about ready to call it quits and get a rental.  It had not occurred to me that thanks to Nike and Intel expansions those housing markets were almost as crazy as Portland proper.

Before giving up a colleague convinced me to look at homes in West Linn.  A small city about 20 minutes south of downtown Portland.  That turned out to be a wonderful bit of advice and we purchased the first house we made an offer on.  We are very happy with the situation and in hindsight glad it did not work out on the west side of town.  For those who are unfamiliar with West Linn here is UFC fighter Chael Sonnen describing his home town.

So now we have moved to the mean streets of West Linn, Oregon and hopefully I won’t see any littering.  Soon I will post about why I left Portland (although is 20 minutes south really leaving Portland??)

In other Portland news:

  • Portland’s annual world naked bike ride is tonight and it is of course not without some controversy.
  • The temperatures are going to be nasty this week. If you want to stay cool head for the coast or go hang out in Oneonta Gorge.
  • I will have a separate post on this soon but July is the beginning of the best beer month in Portland and things are kicking off early with the International Beer Festival which started yesterday.

On the mile and points front:

  • I have not earned any serious frequent flyer miles in the last 18 months.  I put all that stuff on hold in preparation for buying a new home.  I am jonesing to get back in the fold.  I have some trips coming up and my miles balances are low.
  • Although I have been quiet in my own miles earning and blogging, I have still been active with my miles and points consulting.  In fact just had a client return from a trip to South Africa flying Cathay business class that I had helped him book.  He said the trip and flights were amazing.
  • During this hiatus I have also not done any reselling which is something I wanted to get into for meeting spends.  I am going to start doing that and will be writing about my experiences here.
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I’m Thinking About a Second Blog About Miles and Reselling

As many of you know, I am a mile and points junkie.  I collect miles and points to be able to travel for what I like to call practically free.  In the last year I have not been collecting many miles because I took it easy in anticipation of us selling our house and buying a new house.  I have been thinking over the last couple of months about not only collecting miles but also building a travel slush fund to cover expenses like credit card annual fees and incidentals while traveling.  In recent weeks I have been contemplating getting into the reselling business.  I’ve been aware of this method of generating miles and earning modest profit for some time, but it seemed like it was too time consuming to make it worthwhile.

In recent weeks, however, my attitude has started to change.  I have this feeling that my current method for manufacturing miles is not going to last.  I also hate spending my own money to earn sign up bonuses.  Given what I think is the inevitable end to most of the easy methods of creating miles I figure now is as good as anytime to get into reselling.

I’ve gone back and forth on whether I should just make a new blog or add it as content to this site.  My fear with creating a second blog is that I will neglect this blog.  So for now I will include my adventures in reselling as content on this site even though it is unrelated to Portland.  I will of course continue to include Portland related content on the blog.

I think my posts about reselling will be like a journal chronicling my attempts at reselling.  I know very little about the process so if you are interested you can learn with me.

 

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Win Two Tickets to Europe With Icelandair and #PDXtravelganza

Icelandair is launching service between Portland and Reykjavic starting May 5th.  It is a seasonal service operating flights twice per week until October 20th.  I am really excited about this route because it adds pretty easy access to Europe for us PDXers.  We do not have many options for departing Portland to Europe so this is a welcome addition in my book. Plus, Iceland is awesome, and one of the great things about flying Icelandair is that you get a stopover in Iceland for free before heading on to Europe.  With one ticket you can have two vacations in one.

To celebrate the kickoff of Icelandair’s new route they are giving away two roundtrip tickets to Europe (presumably also with a stopover in Iceland).  Here are the details:

  • Between April 10th and 12th representatives from Icelandair will be in Portland.
  • Follow Icelandair on either Facebook or Twitter.
  • Each day they will post a clue as to their location plus that day’s password.
  • The first person to find their location and reveal the password wins two tickets to Europe!

For full details of the giveaway click here.  Good luck.

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