Ah spring – the worst is over! Every year it’s the same feeling, like by the end of February you begin to believe that the grey and rain is just not going to end this time. But it does and it’s always worth it. Seeing blossoms all across the city makes me a little giddy.
Here are some things I love about spring in Portland…
I’m a fan of alternate transportation methods. It makes life different, and cheaper, and sometimes more inconvenient, but definitely more interesting. One of the things I love about living in a little city, like Portland, is how it makes transportation easier. Whether you’re biking, walking, taking the Streetcar/MAX, riding the bus, car-sharing, or some combination, it doesn’t take ages to get to the “other side” of the city.
I’ve been using car-sharing (Zipcar to start) since January of 2008. At the time, I was just getting ready to go traveling for a year, so in preparation for selling my car, I signed up to try it out and have a backup just in case my car sold earlier than expected. When I got back to the States in 2009, I ended up not repurchasing a car, and have been using Zipcar, and Car2Go ever since.
So in an effort compare the current car-sharing services in Portland, here’s how they stack up:
Annual Fee: $50
Initial Application/Setup Fee: $25
Rates: from $8.50/hour, from $69/day
Service Areas: 39 states/provinces in North America currently (& some in Spain/UK)
Availability: sprinkled all around the city
When/why to use Zipcar:
The thing Zipcar has always had going for it, is the cars. Zipcar seemed pretty revolutionary when they started. You could rent a regular car with zero hassle. And if there was a zipcar parking spot close to you, you pretty much felt like you had a car for whenever you needed it, so long as the neighbors didn’t hog it.
Zipcar was recently acquired by Avis, so I’m expecting more fees to start creeping in at some point.
Annual Fee: $0
Initial Application/Setup Fee: $35
Rates: $0.38/min, $13.99/hour, $72.99/day
Service Areas: nine North American cities currently (& some in Europe)
Availability: currently 300 cars in Portland
When/why to use car2go:
I signed up for Car2go last summer, and one of the biggest selling points for me using Car2Go is that more often than not, I don’t need a car for exactly one hour or more. Plus, I don’t want to make a reservation for an exact time in the future. When I’m running to meet friends for happy hour, I want transportation that’s fast and flexible — I don’t want to have to agree to one hour of car rental etc, if I only need to drive 10 min in the rain, and I have a ride home. This is where Car2Go is awesome. You pull up the app, see that there’s a car a couple blocks away, reserve it (the reservation holds it for you for 15 min), and you’re on your way.
Another thing Car2go beats Zipcar on is location. I know off the top of my head that the closest Zipcar parking space is 2 blocks away, and is a more expensive vehicle type, so the closest car that I usually reserve is about 5 blocks away. With car2go, there could be one right outside my door, or a mile away. Obviously, I’m not pleased when I really want to car2go and the closest one is a really long walk in the opposite direction that I need to go. And of course, Car2go’s are little Smart cars so they don’t drive as smoothly as a “regular” car. It took a little bit of getting used. I thought like they felt kind of like a go-kart at first, but I don’t notice it anymore.
Car2go is a Daimler company, so not exactly the ‘startup’ that Zipcar felt like when they started, but fine by me. It feels like a very innovative project coming from a bigger company.
Car2Go wishlist: app notification that you can select ‘notify me when there’s a car within x distance from me’ so if I know I want to go somewhere at some point in the next few hours, I don’t have to keep pulling up the app to refresh.
Another newbie to the car sharing scene is Getaround — think Airbnb for your car. I haven’t used this service yet though.
Photo by: atomictaco
Living in a beer city, it can start to feel rather ordinary when a new brewery pops up. I love the beer/coffee/bike shop economy idea (ie. more isn’t competition, it’s just more growth for an industry/consumption) though, so I’m always happy to see more opening. I just might not jump up and down about every one.
One of Portland’s newest breweries, Base Camp Brewing, is my brewery crush at the moment though. The whole ‘outdoorsy’ decor might be a little over the top for some people — not this girl. String up a canoe to the ceiling anytime, please. Maybe it’s from living in Bend (it kind of has the Central Oregon vibe actually, if you replaced city folk with hardcore athletes). So I love the space – exposed beams, climbing gear (carabiners as coat hooks at the bar), all the nature photography, the “stars” on the ceiling that make it kind of seem like you’re in the country, and the outdoor ‘fire pits’.
Thankfully, the beer is also awesome. And for the couple times that I’ve been there, I keep ordering the taster tray. Feels a tad silly, but I kind of love not having to pick just one (or two, or three). They currently have nine beers:
Ripstop Rye Pilsner IBUs: 52 SRM: 3.7 OG/TG: 13.5/3.0°P ABV: 5.7% The Ripstop Rye Pils is our reinterpretation of the classic pilsner lager beer: aromas of European malt and noble-type hops mingle with a dignified, refreshing, and clean malt character that is further distinguished with a generous addition of spicy rye malt, creating a beer that is at once malty, zesty, crisp, hoppy, and incredibly drinkable.
IBUs: 40 SRM: 5.0 OG/TG: 13.5/2.6°P ABV: 5.8%
Base Camp’s Paölschenbier is a stand-out pale that is both approachable and nuanced. Dry-hopped for lots of lemony citrus aroma without a mouthpuckering bitterness, well-balanced by its slightly bready malt and yeast profiles. Our house ale yeast strain does some of its best work in this beer, making for a light ale that is truly unique.
IBUs: 28 SRM: 8.0 OG/TG: 13.8/3.5°P ABV: 5.6%
Our take on the maltforward fest biers of Bavaria. Extensive malt aroma and taste trials over the last two years led us in crafting this recipe, a subtly-hopped amber lager that walks the line between dry and full-bodied, not too sweet but definitely not lacking in malty goodness. Lagered on our in-house toasted oak to round out this brew’s flavor profile.
Belgian Session Ale
IBUs: 14 SRM: 9.7 OG/TG: 11.6/2.4°P ABV: 4.9%
Base Camp’s Belgian Session Ale showcases a thick, white head atop a golden honey-colored beer. Aromas of spicy clove and a hint of camp fire smoke accompany its wheaty malt taste. The BSA’s medium-light body is well-balanced by this beer’s tartness. Low gravity and huge taste, making for a great sessionable beer.
In-Tents India Pale Lager
IBUs: 55 SRM: 15.4 OG/TG: 16.5/4.0°P ABV: 6.8%
Our flagship India Pale Lager showcases a copper color that gives way to a crisp, clean lager beer perfectly balanced in its massive complexity. Dry-hopped and aged on an in-house toasted blend of white and red oaks. The IPL finishes clean and smooth, with hop aromas of wild flowers and pine, and a unique maltiness highlighted by the subtle oak character.
IBUs: 45 SRM: 15.8 OG/TG: 15.3/3.8°P ABV: 6.2%
A fun, refreshing take on the oft-maligned brown ale, Base Camp’s Out-of-Bounds Brown has a light brown color with big aromas of citrusy Cascade dry hops which meld into a highly distinct malt character. It has a clean yet full mouthfeel that makes it both satisfying and drinkable. Light and crisp, the O.o.B. restores faith in what brown ales can aspire to.
Prime Meridian India Pale Ale
IBUs: 56 SRM: 11.3 OG/TG: 15.3/3.1°P ABV: 6.7%
This deep golden-colored beer is topped by a dense rocky crown that kicks off a punchy American IPA hop aroma. The unique tropical fruit nose of Meridian hops follows through in the taste. For balance, a Flemish saison-inspired malt bill; well-attenuated yet maintaining a full body. We ferment it at high temps to make the most of our house yeast strain, creating a late fruity tartness that plays out nicely with the lingering hop character.
IBUs: 70 SRM: 55.2 OG/TG: 19.2/5.3°P ABV: 7.7%
The S’more Stout is an absolute all-star: Aromas of chocolate, coffee, fig, and smoke invite you in to a gigantic maltiness that is distinct in its smooth and refined character, with flavors of chocolate and hints of smoke mingling with rich caramel, fruit, and warming alcohol. Top with a roasted marshmallow and you have the ultimate S’more experience!
IBUs: 30 SRM: 20.4 OG/TG: 17.4/3.6°P ABV: 7.6%
The Acclimator presents a rich smoothness that we balance out with just enough crisp hop character to make for an extremely quaffable strong lager. Doppelbocks are traditionally brewed with Pilsner or Munich malts, but we chose to showcase the awesomeness of Maris Otter and Belgian dark crystal malts. Result? A totally unique and drinkable beer.
–Base Camp Brewing
S’more Stout – I’m usually more of an IPA person, but I really love the s’more stout — it comes with an adorable little marshmallow on the side, and is kind of mocha-esque and like drinking dessert.
The Acclimator Doppelbock and In-Tents India Pale Lager (see what they did there?) are also awesome beers.
Now if there’s a 2nd annual Beer & Cheese Festival, Base Camp had better be there, with their Stout and… maybe a blue cheese? Also, this weekend is Zwickelmania, so if you’re in Portland, you really have no excuse for not checking out a brewery near you!
Have you been to Base Camp yet?
Me: You know what would be really good right now?
Him: A veggie burger with blue cheese and caramelized onions?
My favorite burger is: blue cheese, caramelized onions, smokey BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, on a whole wheat bun, with a veggie burger (Morningstar Farms griller patty is my favorite). And quite often, when I get it in my head that I need to make this vs wandering about town looking for the perfect veggie burger, I misplace my “perfect caramelized onions” recipe and search the Interwebz in despair, before finally finding my trusty recipe that I got from a Sur la Table cooking class instructor during a Mediterranean class I took a couple year ago.
So in the hopes that in the future, I can just remember that I blogged about it – horray digitized, and that you may also find this to be the best onions, ever, here’s the recipe.
As long as you remember to stir occasionally and not crank the heat up, they’ll be tasty, tasty onions. So, while you can make anything with these tasty onions: pizza, burgers, flat bread, eggs… I usually start them first since they’re so slow and then while I occasionally stir them, I get everything else ready. Then, I don’t feel like I’m watching a pot or whatever that saying is.
Bonus: If you can manage to NOT eat all the onions, saving a tiny bit for tomorrow and making an omelette with them is awesome: 2 eggs, a bit of blue cheese, a bit of caramelized onions, pour a tiny bit of BBQ sauce on the top. Delicious.
My annual end of the year goal [review/planning] time snuck up on me this year. Last year was the first time we combined goals with an overnight getaway — and I really like this as a new tradition. It’s really helpful to get out of my daily routine/distractions to take some time and reflect and plan for the coming year. So on Saturday night, realizing 2013 was steadily approaching, I started thinking Astoria would be a closer and cheaper option than back to Pacific City (like last year). And turns out there’s a cool, budget hotel in Astoria now that didn’t exist when I lived there for half a minute. The Commodore Hotel is right downtown, with “European-style” bathrooms and rooms from $75. Think McMenamins meets The Ace Hotel. The perfect quick trip from Portland.
Astoria is the oldest settlement west of the Rockies (which feels positively ancient in the States). I’ve always loved Astoria for it’s old soul and big, small town vibe. One of the many places I say “I could live here” about, which usually receives a response of “you say that about everywhere.” Not about everywhere, but quite often. :) After a quick trip up to the Astoria Column and watching the sunset, we headed back to the waterfront for a beer at [the also relatively new] Fort George Brewery, and then settled down to goal time with my trusty, annual goal setting template. On to the goals!
I feel like a lot of my goals are pretty similar to last year (travel! local adventures! Save!), but I do have fewer goals this year. I’ll get back to you in 365 days on if that was a wise idea or not. :)