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Portland and Seattle via Amtrak

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A few weeks ago I jumped on Amtrak's Coast Stralight to travel through the Northwest.

I got on at Emeryville, CA for the first part of my trek to Portland, OR. As it was around ten at night and I wasn't due in Portland until about threePM the next day I got comfy in my chair. I must say the chairs/seats you pay for on overnight trips are damn comfy like those of flying first class. The seats recline with a foot pad and foot post as well as electronic sockets at every seat and table tray. They provide a pillow as well but I suggest bringing your own blanket as these are not provided. I woke up to the sunrise around Mt. Shasta and took a walk to the "viewing car" which has all glass siding and roof. I got my cup of coffee from downstairs and have to say despite all the other great offerings it was the worst cup of coffee I have ever had and I've done my fair share of middle of the highway/interstate coffee drinking. So maybe bring your own instant if you like coffee. Anywho, I sat down with my coffee and shortly after two older gentleman sat down next to me as we stared off at the amazing views. We began talking about old cars as I noticed every time we past a barn or piece of property and cars were visible they were looking with a look I am familiar with....the search for old cars. It turns out they were on their way to a small town outside Portland to pick up a seventies car they discovered. I have inserted a photo below of a junkyard full of old cars I saw later in the morning like one of the ones you discover in the California and/or Arizona desert. I wanted to jump off and explore but didn't have time. Later on I had lunch in the food car/diner and an older couple sat down with me. The gentleman had a cool old rose forearm tattoo from his military days during the Korean war but I didn't have my camera with me, damn it.

I arrived in Portland around threePM where I quickly got settled in and made my way to eating. I can not recall the places I ate at but all I can say is I did lots of it and it was great. Portland has happy hours from afternoon to late at night.....these were new happy hours to me as they were not drinks but food! I guess if you serve booze you have to have something like at least a five item menu so the places offer food at affordable prices. This eating and taking advantage of the happy hours was what I did the whole two days or so in Portland. Burgers, sushi, fries, desserts, pot pies, prime rib....!!!

I was staying at the Ace Hotel which has bicycles for free to any guest. Before I get to the bikes let me say it was my first time staying at an Ace hotel and it was rather impressive. The rooms were New York hotel size but the level of well thought out space consumption was impressive. It reminded me of this video I saw once of this guy in Japan whoms apartment was like a transformer....making the most out of the smallest space. Back to the bikes, so if you are staying at the hotel they have bikes you can use for as long as you please. I'm not much of a biker but it seemed like a great cheap way to go surprise a friend and roam the city.

The moment I got outside the rain began but that didn't stop me at least from going to surprise my friend. The hotel was a block off Burnside so it was a direct route to visit/surprise an old friend Ms. Mikki at her new tattoo shop Fortune Tattoo Shop (1716 East Burnside Street, Portland, OR). I hadn't seen Mrs. Mikki in a few years since she relocated to Portland and the shop is badass (see pictures below). It is an open layout with a loft balcony for drawing in the back overlooking the floor. I wish I would of had a tape recorder going for part of my talk with her as she was just spilling rich Portland tattoo history where I learned so much. After shooting the shit with Mikki for a few hours I hoped back in the rain and went to a shop I became familiar with through LST. I used LST's search feature before I for the keyword "Portland" and saw user Henry Rodriguez worked at a shop called Scapegoat Tattoo around the corner (1223 Southeast Stark Street Portland, OR). I walked in and asked for Henry who I then sat down and talked with for a few minutes (pictures below). I explored Portland for another day or so and observed the "city that works" (their motto they put on everything) was a mix between SF and Vancouver(BC), beautiful!

So after some time in Portland I hoped back on the train for a few more hours and headed to Seattle for four days or so. This short train ride was absolutely amazing with its views riding along the water for most of it. I was looking forward to the seafood so the first place I stopped for food was sushi. I stayed at The Paramount in Seattle and the room was spacious plus the CA King bed was damn comfortable competing with Sofitel Hotels (which are my favorite hotel beds..if you have stayed in one you know what I am talking about!). Seattle was full of eating, eating, and more guess what...more eating thanks to the food happy hours being there as well. Vietnamese, sushi, seafood, burgers, fries, desserts, italian, sandwiches and on and on. The hotel was a perfect location as everything was walking distance. I prefer to walk as much as possible when traveling so I can see things that I may miss when using public transit, taxis, and/or rental cars. I didn't visit any tattoo shops in Seattle but saw a few. I did manage to enjoy the cheese festival they were having and discovered a new cheese maker that I loved, Sartori Cheeses.

So after a week break from the Bay Area it was time to head back...I hoped on Seattle's public tranist which was beyond convenient as I jumped on two blocks from my hotel and it dropped me right at the airport for under five dollars in about forty-five minutes.

Thanks Mrs. Mikki and Henry for spending sometime with me.

Ms Mikki at Fortune Tattoo in Portland LST profile and tattoo gallery

Henry Rodriguez at Scapegoat Tattoo in Portland LST profile and tattoo gallery

Until next time......

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Scapegoat is a vegan tattoo parlour with some really amazing artists (including Henry!, who i briefly said hi to at last year's SFO/San Jose convention, but while this may come as a surprise to some, i'm actually extremely shy so i couldn't say much more than that), and i've seen a lot of quality work come from there. i'll have to check out Fortune Tattoo the next time i'm up that way (hopefully in September!)

i've always wanted to take that exact trip by train, so maybe on my fall excursion,i'll have to plan to do just that. another favorite place of mine to stay in portland is the Bluebird Guesthouse. no free bikes and a little further from certain areas (relatively close to burnside and hawthorne district), but it's an awesome little house and the rates are reasonable. our room had a sky light and it felt like Jackson and i had just checked into the 1940s. it was great for a few "romantic" evenings in the middle of a major couch surfing trip.

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oh and our trip last year was inspired by exactly what you did Loch, eating all the delicious food! portland is the vegan food mecca of the US.

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O Loch! It was so wonderful seeing you and your lady friend locking up those bikes in front of the shop. Thank you for the surprise visit. It warmed this little heart of mine, it did. :) Please come and stay a little longer so I can give you the savory menu tour of some of my favorite Portland chefs. I would also like to share, what is left of the old tattoo history here that I grew up with. Sea Tramp Tattoo. Mary Jane Haake. Deluxe Tattoo. Even maybe a visit out to Bert Grimms gravesite. It is quite a sweet story of his wife and his long time relationship, and then being buried next to eachother. This week is fleet week and the Rose festival. All those navy boys come down town in their uniforms and whoop it up. I have fond memories of them coming in yearly to get tattooed. There is something so romantic about it all. The contrast of the seedy bum junkie ridden streets, full of life at this time with drunken laugher and sailor's kicking their heels up on leave. Night time downtown this time of year, is one of my favorites. Its timeless. So time, well have to enjoy some hikes and share with you some epic view points. If not a ride on one of the bikes. It really is a lovely city. Thank you for stopping by and taking it in for a minute. Love to you. Respectfully, M

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Avery, I would have loved to continued north into Vancouver as it is an amazing city though this trip didn't allow. When I do I will let you know and we can meet up for some coffee and/or food.

MsRad, sounds like you know all sort of good spots up that way....I'll have to pick your brain next time.

Ms. Mikki, it was a pleasure and always so great seeing you as it doesn't happen as often these days! The next time will have to be longer no doubt so I can get the Mikki tour as the Bert Grimm site is a double whammy of graveyards and more tattoo history plus your favorite chefs restaurants, hot damn. The story you told me was pretty amazing about him and his wife. Thanks!

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very good meeting you Loch. lots of good tattooing and eating to be had in portland for sure. hope your visit went well and drop by anytime your in town

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Yeah i have done that Amtrack Portland via Seattle a MANY times.. My favorite part of the trip (other than finally arriving to my destination to grab a cigarette) Was the area after the Olympia stop where you can see the beginning of the southern bay.

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@MsMikki, it was so nice to meet you and your shop is absolutely beautiful. It is definitely your little baby!

@Henry Rodriguez, I am still tripping out that you apprenticed at the shop where I got my 1st tattoo! Such a small world

Highly recommend this trip for people who want want to eat alot of good food! If you want more detail on the food, here ya go:

Portland, Oregon Part 1 | Miss Babbles

Portland, OR Part Deux | Miss Babbles

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