Oregon Brewers Festival

This year, for the first time since 2007, I was able to make it up to Portland for the Oregon Brewers Festival—the biggest beer festival in Oregon, if not the Pacific Northwest. (They bill it at “North America’s largest gathering of independent brewers” which I’m not so sure about considering the Great American Beer Festival, but anyway.)

You can read all the various related blogging bits about the OBF over on The Brew Site, my beer blog; beer reviews, vignettes, pictures (soon), that sort of thing. It was a really good trip, and a good festival; the amount it has grown even in the past four years since I was last there is amazing—used to be, you could hit the Fest on the first or second day early, right after they opened, and you’d have the run of the park and the beers, sure there were people there but there were no real crowds and no real lines anywhere.

That seems to have changed; even Thursday (the opening day) within the first couple of hours the crowd was bigger than I remember and there were lines to beers—in fact, the Maui Brewing CoCoNuT Porter apparently ran completely out by 12:30 (gates open at noon) on the first day—which if you ask me is just insane.

Because of my beer blog, I was able to get into the special blogger preview early on Thursday, tasting 15 beers to write about (which had to be done by the next day), plus I got a “media” badge and a mug as part of the package. I always feel a little conspicuous and slightly sneaky wandering around wearing the media badge, like I need something more to show for it than just carrying a notebook and a small camera along with me. (Okay, to be fair I had a backpack with those items in it plus the netbook computer, extra water, tokens, and Brew Site business-type cards.)

I also got the opportunity to meet and hang out with some bloggers and industry folks, which was a nice bonus to the weekend (of course). And hit up a couple of breweries: the Tugboat Brewery which I absolutely love but hadn’t been too in many years, and the new Burnside Brewery which I’ve been reading great things about (and who have some of the more unusual beers that I’ve seen).

Altogether, a really good weekend.

Corno’s Market

According to Metroblogging Portland, Corno’s Food Market is going to be torn down. Wow.

I say “wow” because there’s a more personal connection for me: my grandfather is one of the Cornos that used to run the place. Granted, it’s been closed for something like 10 or more years, and my grandfather hadn’t worked there for longer than that, but it’s still kind of a shock. (In fact, I think my dad may have mentioned to me that Corno’s was going to be destroyed.)

During the holidays, we’d always get the gift box from my grandparents full of (among other things) fresh fruit and nuts and such from the Market. One of the perks. And before that—well before that, before I was even born (or at least too young to remember)—we’d get the hookup from my grandfather when he ran the meat department. Yep, cheap meat.

Ice capades

Our little trip to Portland over the weekend went well, except for the ice storm that hit Saturday. We stayed indoors the whole day with our friends (who we were staying with, fortunately, otherwise we’d have really worn out our welcome), and pretty much any other plans we’d had were shot.

On the other hand, our friends introduced me to the BBC comedy The Office, which is insane but entirely plausible—I’ve known people (and offices) that are exactly the same way. It’s hilarious, check it out. Amazon has it for about 42 bucks.

Our drive back Sunday was uneventful; the ice was already breaking up in Portland and the farther out of town we went, the better it got—even over the mountains. Back in Bend, you wouldn’t even know anything had happened. All’s well that ends well, they say.

In Portland

Sitting in the Red Lion Inn at the Convention Center in Portland tonight; we’ll be here for the next couple of days. Not a pleasure or casual visit, though; tomorrow our son (he’s three) has corrective eye surgery for esotropia.

It’ll be his second such surgery (our daughter, who’s five, has also had two eye surgeries). It’s simultaneously a minor and a major surgery; minor because there’s nothing being transplanted, or amputated, or anything like that, and major because he will still be fully anesthetized and getting the full surgical “treatment.”

The gory details? The lateral muscles of the eyes—those attached to the sides—are moved forwards or backwards on the wall of the eyeball to correct the respective alignment problem. Yes, this involves removing them from where they attach and sewing them onto a new location. Freaky? You bet, but at the same time utterly amazing at what can be accomplished in this day and age.

Anyway, that’s the latest in case blogging gets light the next couple of days. (Though tonight I’m blogging a bit.)

The weekend in Portland

I’m pleased to report that Portland is still where it’s supposed to be. Or at least, it was when we left on Sunday, I can’t really speak for any time after that.

We stayed at the downtown Residence Inn over the weekend, which despite being located right next to I-5 is a rather nice hotel. Our room had been upgraded to a two-bedroom suite at no charge after my wife told them the sob story about our miserable night in Stockton next to the freeway, so we ended up with two full bathrooms, three TVs and a full kitchen. They have a very good breakfast for guests, beyond the typical continental breakfasts of juice and muffins you usually see. The only drawback (aside from the freeway) was that they have road work and construction of some kind going on literally all around the hotel, so getting in and out is a hassle and confusing at first.

No WiFi in the rooms, though. They do have high speed internet access, but it’s ethernet-based and sadly, I don’t have a card for that in the laptop. So be warned.

Oh, the other thing was that I forgot to take my own pillow with me; I can’t stand hotel pillows and just have the hardest time getting a good night’s sleep with them. I figure I must be getting old.

Took the kids to see “The Incredibles” and then to Chuck E. Cheese’s on Saturday. “The Incredibles” was fantastic; my next entry will be about that. Chuck E. Cheese’s, well, it’s been awhile since I’d been there, so I’d forgotten just how crazy that place is. Like Vegas for kids, as my friend Justin said. I’ll probably let another year or two or three pass before I take the kids again :).