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We left on the Thursday before hurricane Sandy made its way up the East Coast. We knew it was coming, but nothing was certain. After one, slightly tense discussion, we decided to take our chances and head west.

From the plane

We stayed in a tiny bungalow — 750 square feet, to be exact — that included a sofa bed, TV, kitchen, dining area, and bathroom. The inside was Ikea-made from top to bottom.

We’d rented a car so that Paul could take some side trips to visit his brother, who was in a hospital in nearby Vancouver, Washington.

On our first morning, we awoke to rain that continued throughout our visit. While Paul was with his brother I spent a good deal of time in Powell’s Books and drinking tea.

At this particular cafe, the teacups were dainty, but the music was not. It had an edgy, tough vibe. And yes, that’s my hat on the table. I’m conflicted about hats. I love them, but not the resulting “hat hair.” This particular hat had been sitting on my desk at home, unworn, for months. I’m glad I brought it, it was the perfect shield for Portland’s drizzle.

But enough about hats, Portland is all about the food. Our first breakfast took place in a French bakery near our place. Perhaps not the best croissants in town (more about those later) but they sure were buttery.

Perfectly poached eggs atop grilled tomatoes and pesto with squash and home fries, croissant also included.

The rain prevented me from taking many photos but it let up on Saturday, while we were at the farmer’s market at Portland State University.

“Hot” peppers

The kids at the market had a chance to show off their formidable pumpkin-carving skills.

Some of the farmers also displayed their Halloween spirit, like these friendly “scarecrows.”

By Saturday night, it was clear that given Sandy’s trajectory, our flights back to Boston on Monday would likely be cancelled. Luckily, we were able to reschedule our departure for early the next morning.

But not before we had a fabulous meal with some new friends. Can you believe I met Leslie online, through my friend Heather in Arles? It was a match made in heaven.

Leslie and her husband Scott insisted on taking us out to dinner. We ate at the Bent Brick. Scott convinced us that we’d be doing him a tremendous favor by taking the “whole menu” option. Yes, dear readers, we ate the whole thing.

The food was amazing, the company even more so. It felt like we were reconnecting with two old friends. The conversation covered our careers, our kids, our homes, our dogs, and politics — our mutual desire to live in a country of “we” and not one of “me.”

As Paul said, we could have talked to them all night. We closed down the restaurant. When we said good-bye, Scott handed us a care package for our trip home. It contained the day’s New York Times, the best croissants, and a bag of local hazelnuts from their food co-op.

We went to bed at midnight and got up at 4 am to make our plane.

I want more. We’re going back.

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