Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quick Trip to Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR - April 2011

I hopped up to Vancouver, WA (not the one in Canada!) for a quick trip this past week working at a conference. It was my first time visiting the Pacific Northwest. The air was crisp and fresh with a serene scenery. I wished I had more time to explore.

The Esther Short park is right across the street from the hotel we stayed in downtown Vancouver. This park has a beautiful clock tower that I just couldn't get enough of. Established in 1853, this park is the oldest public park in the state of Washington.

After I finished giving two presentations, my colleague and I ventured out to explore a bit before the evening reception. We came across this cool little area called "Turtle Place." This new public plaza displays artwork and pieces made out of recycled and reused items. Here's a beautiful piece called "Romona Falls."

We were wandering around town looking for a good place to grab some lunch when couple of very nice people referred us to this place called "Beaches." One thing we learned about Vancouver, WA is that people are extremely friendly, nice, and helpful. It was a big culture shock for us. "Beaches" is right on the river front. Here's our view at lunch overlooking the beautiful Columbia River.

I noticed this cute sign with a phone underneath. :)

It's so peaceful up here.

I had the seafood cioppino for starter and it was decent.

Followed by an open face Pacific crab and artichoke melt sandwich.

The waitress found out we were from out of town, so she gave us bags of these salted caramel popcorn that the restaurant makes. While waiting for our cab to arrive, I tasted one and I couldn't put it down even though I just ate lunch! They were amazingly good! We opened a bag for our booth and everyone who tasted them came back for more. These are the best popcorn I've ever had!

Beautiful spring colors. We don't get these in LA.

After the conference ended for the day, my colleague, I, and another exhibitor decided to venture across the river into Portland, OR and explore the town. We went bar hopping.

The Chinatown area is known as the "Entertainment District" with trendy and hip bars, restaurants, galleries, and shops.

People have been telling us about "Voodoo Doughnut" and I was excited to try it.

My colleague went for the "Voodoo Doll." All these "dolls" have different faces with a candle sticking out of its belly. This doughnut has chocolate frosting with raspberry jelly inside, so when you bite into it, it's like blood. Pretty wicked, eh?

(In Homer Simpson's voice) Mmm...doughnut...

I went for the famous Bacon Maple Bar. Yes, that's two strips of crispy bacon with maple frosting on top! They were sooooooo gooooood! BEST doughnut EVER! After the other exhibitor took a bite of it, he ordered one also and saved it as breakfast for the next day. :)

The other exhibitor went for the "Old Dirty Bastard." It has Oreo cookies and peanut butter on top.

I was in super yummy bad food heaven!

Since I was coming home after the conference ends, I didn't have time to tour Fort Vancouver. So, the other exhibitor and I decided to have dinner at "The Grant House" before I left.

The Grant House was constructed for General Ulysses Grant. Although he's visited the property while he was stationed in Vancouver, he never actually stayed here. The Grant House is on the "Officers Row" where army officers and their families stayed while stationed at the Vancouver Barracks. Here's the parade ground.

Inside The Grant House.

Peaceful porch.

I've never been in a colonial-style home with such luscious grounds. I could totally live here. :)

For dinner, I went for the prawns. They were delicious with a nice kick to it.

My companion went for the Kobe burger. I was going to order this but decided to have a lighter meal instead. It was surprisingly good! The buns were actually pretzel roll with mustard aioli, with slices of brie and caramelized onion. I should have ordered this. :P

Because I'm on Foursquare, there was a special running at the Grant House for a free dessert for first-time visitors. We decided to try their fried chocolate ravioli. They were heavenly! My companion had this expression on his face like he was in an outer world when he took a bite of it. It was so funny and I couldn't stop laughing.

On the front of the house, there were different versions of the flag displayed to show the transformation of the American flags.

While waiting for my flight home, I heard someone playing the piano. It felt like I was shopping at Nordstrom instead. What a nice airport!

Before I came to Vancouver, WA, I didn't think there was much to see here. However, I discovered deeply rooted history with the economic migration of The Hudson's Bay Company from the north including Russians and Asians, as well as the U.S. Army stationing here to help with the settlement. One thing that impressed me the most about this town is how friendly and unpretentious people are. They are all very quick to help if you look lost, and offering a helping hand without you having to ask.

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  1. What's the song again? ... "Girls just wanna have fun." It sure looks like you did have fun on your trip. Its great when you get to go to places for business and still have some time left over for pleasure.