Upgraded to First Class for my Chicago to Portland segment so I was able to actually work on the 60 Hikes Madison guide while sipping champagne with a strawberry in it. Chicago Portland is about 4.5 hours; at least two hours more than the life of my battery. My flight out of Madison cost less than $300 and it was nestled in the midst of some inflated Labor Day weekend prices. Looking for the cheap flight is sometimes just a matter of choosing weekday departures, waiting for low season, less favored hours, etc. but sometimes booking something right smack in the middle of a national long weekend can surprise you. Try it! Who the heck is heading home on Saturday in Labor Day? Me. And at about $100 less than if I did so on Sunday or Monday.
I’m in Vancouver to record a few songs for the upcoming CD from Marianne Flemming. While I’m here I thought I’d check out some of the local brews both in Vancouver and just across the bridge over the Columbia River, in Portland, OR. And lest everyone starts to think this is the Beer Travel Network, I intend to get a little hike in and a round up of some of the reasons you need to check out Portland.
Last night my friend Todd and I stopped in at Salmon Creek Brewpub in Vancouver to samples a few pints and get some eats. Neat place with a courtyard, pressed-tin ceilings and a sort of classy English pub atmosphere (is that an oxymoron?). Beer-battered fish and chips were recommended. I went with halibut, but they also do it with salmon from the Copper River (the good stuff). The food was good, and of all the beers I loved the sweet stout more than the rest. But what made the night memorable was Ana, the wife of the brewmaster, Larry Pratt. She is originally from Croatia, the manager and others refer to her as “Mom”, and she is a character. (She’ll make the video highlights later with her infamous Bat with which she threatens customers who order mass-market beers – PBR, Bud, Miller, etc. The beer names are engraved on the wood so she finds what you ordered before waving the bat and offering you water. “My husband works too hard. When you are here, you drink OUR beer!” Talk about beer battering.)
The couple is celebrating 45 years of marriage this year. The secret? “The man makes a good beer!”
Best time to come though is happy hour 4-6. Pints (of the 20 oz. variety, not 16!) at $3.25, and Scotch-ale-battered deep-fried mushrooms, onion rings or veggies for $2.50.