Portland is a place I always to head to.  It’s progressive thinking as well as its scenery are what have always attracted me. Now if you start to translate a theoretical desire into a real-life impression, the place just absolutely shattered and surpassed all my expectations.

They've come a long way since The Nike

They’ve come a long way since The Nike

The opportunity to head to Beaverton and take a tour over to the Nike Campus was truly an experience to behold.  For sport nuts or even individuals that appreciate science and engineering, this is a great place to visit.

When touching down at PDX, the emotions were high and the activities were non-stop.  Of course, there were many images that made me remember of my time in New England; but this was a completely different set of circumstances.  Portland seemed so clean and to not see traffic jams, save for when Barack Obama decided to go fund raising there.

The way of life there is the total opposite of what us folk on the east coast are accustomed to.  It is so laid back that you do have the chance to just walk around and really enjoy what the town has to offer.

I did so both early in the morning as well as later on in the evening and you had the chance to be able to sit back and just watch life happen.

Ronaldo statue

Bronze statue at Ronaldo Field on Nike Campus

John McEnroe, Mia Hamm, Lance Armstrong, Mike Schmidt and even Tiger Woods all have buildings named after them and that is what makes this trip not just one where you hear about the Nike Science Research Lab- a part of the campus where many volunteers (aka employees) are used as guinea pigs for various research projects and they have to endure several tests in simulated environments.

The immensity of the names doesn’t hit you at first. Ok, yeah. These guys were great. So what’s the big deal? Well, one takes a walk into the Tiger Woods Building and you start to see Tiger’s tale. You get to see the junior trophies as well as images of him winning his first Masters or one of his PGA and British Opens and there is little doubt as to how much he has done for the game.

Look at the back of that building and you see Ronaldo Field, named after Ronaldo Nazario da Lima. The reverence they give those athletes is tremendous and the legacies they have all helped build within their sport and within the company is kept in high regard.

I also headed over to Olympic Provisions, one of the cooler restaurants I have been to.  This chacutéterie was just so awesome where one’s dining experience was just one of the more enjoyable in recent memory for me.  Of course, I have always been a salami and cheese type of guy.  Even more important for me, I am one that does appreciate microbrews.

Dessert was definitely taken to the next level when I tried their Saucisson Au Chocolate.  To explain it best, I would have to translate it from French.  It is a dark chocolate ganache with pieces of pistachio and other nuts as well as a hint of  red wine.  Outstanding.  Plain and simple genius.  Of course, I am not a genius to figure that out, it took an episode of taste bud confusion to understand that this was not made out of pork or meat.

Footballing Bucket List
There was one thing I wanted to do in order to be able to say I have done as far as soccer in the United States was concerned. Football in the Northwest is just sensational and one of the places where you have to go to truly experience it is Jen-Weld Field in downtown Portland. Having the chance to check out Portland play Aston Villa was a great experience. What was even cooler is that I had the chance to hang out and sit with the guys over at section 103 that are part of the famous Timbers Army.

Jeld-Wen Field

Enjoying a friendly at Jeld-Wen Field

Let me tell you, they made me feel like I was at home. We chatted and of course cheered on the Timbers as they were able to come back on two occasions to equalize only to succumb in penalties. THey told me a great deal about the culture and the following. These individuals were bonded by the team and the team became part of the city’s identity.
There was no doubt that this crowd was one of the most fervent ones in all of the MLS and they were upset about it on that day.  Well, the reason why was because all of their capos were not at the match and instead some of the younger members of the Timbers Army were leading the way.  There were also some other fans missing who happened to have drums and other parafernalia that added color to the match.

Despite their disappointment, they were able to leave a significant mark on me.  I got to see first hand how passionate soccer could be here in the US.  It was all fun.  It was all in an environment that promoted

Of course, what trip to Portland would be complete without a trip to a gastronomic institution called Voodoo Doughnuts. I mean if I have to tell you that this place takes doughnut making to another level.

That’ll come in part 2.

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