Bleak situation. Where am I? I am sideways on a king-sized bed. Coffee, I need coffee. Three French presses later, I can deal with this. Cali, I need to feed Cali. Done. I walk outside and David is awake rocking in the hammock. I get him coffee and take Cali for a walk looking for eggs. Took me a whole 45 min to find a co-op where I could buy eggs for $6.99/12. Ridiculous. Eggs obtained, went home.
With the availability of eggs, I decided to make a frittata. Will peeled potatoes, I prepped eggs with pepper, garlic, jalapeno. Best frittata ever. David continues to outdo himself in his culinary exploits.
Although it was a bit of a rough start following the shenanigans of the previous evening, the coffee, which the host had generously supplied in a much fancier stainless steel operation, and hearty breakfast that we shared allowed us to rally and we discussed what was on tap, so to speak, for the day. We eventually found our way to the Japanese Garden, part of the Portland Botanical Garden. The day of our visit happened to be the last day that the garden was open for the season and therefore a respectably sized crowd had shown up to walk through the serene, meandering paths and enjoy a time of inner reflection while gazing at peaceful Japanese plantings, statuary and fountains. Despite plenty of signage asking visitors to “stay on the path”, at various times we would get behind groups of very slow moving people and it started to annoy me. Will and TK had somehow managed to get out in front of the clot of tourists, while I was relegated to shuffling along behind the slow-moving sea of humanity. Again, for those who know me personally, it was an unfathomable situation. I pondered what to do about it because, given the narrowness of the demarcated path, there was no way to physically get around them. It was at that moment that I spied an opening. While technically not “on the path”, it was indeed a path with a break in the foliage and a dusty trail leading off in a direction that would afford me an opportunity to take a shortcut and bypass the obstacles in my way. Although severely frowned upon, I shamelessly took the opportunity and darted off down the “alternative path”, only to find myself standing in the middle of the main “Zen Garden”, a special garden with small stones that had been carefully manicured into a swirling pattern of concentric circles and whose aesthetics were seriously altered by my footprints as I lumbered forward before realizing my situation. As Rick Perry would say, “Oops….”. TK and Will were standing at the rail of the viewing area for the Zen Garden watching all of this unfold. They overheard the other visitors standing nearby saying “Look at that man”, and “Oh my God”, and “What the fucking fuck”, and “that asshole!” IT WAS SPECTACULAR. I couldn’t stop giggling and snorting, and I got a very rude look from a very attractive late 20 something. I admit, I truly rue the episode in the garden but I am thankful that it happened on the last day of the exhibit because any damage that I might have caused was witnessed by only a small subset of visitors who had neglected to take the opportunity to visit the garden earlier in the season. And besides, I am a spiritual person and I believe that Buddha certainly understood that “to err is human” and I fervently hope that I did not do any irreparable harm to my soul or its place in the universe.
After making insensitive jokes such as “the path is only a guideline” and “I take staying on the path metaphorically”, we headed to the Rogue Brewhouse because the sobriety was oppressive and was affecting my decisions.
The beertender at Rogue was an eccentric and loveable character named Tyler, a Philly native and a genuinely good gentlemen with an excellent sense of humor. Rogue had 4-5 IPAs on tap in a series brewed with the exact same components, but with increasing ABV. Tyler gave us an entire flight of the IPA lineup to share and discuss. We all liked the one that was in the middle, about 7% ABV.
Tyler also advised us of the huge “garage sale” of merchandise that was going on at the brewhouse over the Labor Day weekend. All merchandise, including bottled beers, was drastically reduced with a case of 24 oz bottled beers going for about $20 instead of the usual $80. One of the reasons for the “garage sale” is because they overbrew with no available bottles. I was not in a position to take advantage of this remarkable sale because there was no economical way to get the beer back to Charlottesville. TK and Will, however, had no such limitation and so Will bought a case of a chipotle ale (in an OREgasmic bottle) and TK bought 2 cases, a Scotch Lager and the Hazelnut Brown, which was luckily never opened. In addition to brewing beer, Rogue also operates a distillery. Tyler gave us small samples of their gin that had a very unique and delicious piney flavor profile. We purchased a bottle of the gin and an interesting cucumber watermelon citrus mixer that they also make. Before departing, we asked Tyler where we could purchase a good steak, anticipating having a backyard cookout later that evening. Tyler pointed us to a farm to table restaurant/butcher shop called the Laurelhurst Market, much like Timbercreek in Charlottesville, and off we went. The meats there were beautiful but all of the beef steaks were on the order of $25/lb. Yikes! The thick cut, bone-in pork chops however were only $8.50/lb and we unanimously chose this option and purchased 3 large chops.
We then drove back to the Airbnb house to spend the rest of the late sunny afternoon and evening in the backyard, enjoying all of the amenities that it offered: hammock, hot tub, corn hole, fire pit and, thankfully, the high privacy fence. Without a doubt, this house was meant for us. Will and TK immediately began making gin drinks with the Rogue gin, cucumber & citrus soda and fresh lemon juice. Drinks in hand, we headed for the hot tub to relax for a bit before beginning the dinner preparations. After basking in the hot tub for a while, we got out and Will located a maul and began splitting logs in order to build a fire in the pit. He was standing in the yard,swinging a maul over his head and crashing down again and again until the logs had splintered. Will soon had a nice fire roaring in the pit and we located a round grill surface from a dilapidated and unserviceable Weber kettle grill that was collapsed under the deck. We propped up the grill surface on some rocks in the firepit and now had a perfect place to grill our pork chops when the time came. While all this activity was underway, I went inside and prepared a rub for the pork chops consisting of a paste of garlic, fresh rosemary from the garden, finely chopped jalapeno pepper, sea salt and black pepper. I first rubbed some olive oil onto the surface of the chops, followed by the savory rub that I had created. While the pork chops were resting at room temperature, Will & TK launched into a corn hole match.
Will “might” have won 2/2 games against yours truly. Eventually we were all hungry and so the chops were grilled, alongside Will’s “bathing suit” that was unceremoniously drying by the fire, right next to the pork chops. In addition to the chops, we made a salad out of small cherry tomatoes and some chard from the garden in the back. We continued to drink copious amounts of the beers that had been purchased earlier in the day at Rogue. At some point, Will made the decision to go out in search of “The Devil’s Lettuce”. He wandered off and we didn’t hear from him for quite some time and I was beginning to get a bit concerned. I don’t know how but he did. The first of two bars he visited resulted in a girl spiking his drink with liquid THC. Undeterred, he went to the next where he was pointed to a small grocery store. Upon walking in, two gentleman were leaving and the store owner was accusing one of stealing something. The friend paid for the stolen item and they went around the corner. Will asked the grocer about getting some weed but he was too pissed off to have to deal with more drunk people. Will left and ran into the two who had been in the store. The really drunk one had weed, of course, and so the the “exchange” was made. Eventually he returned, mission accomplished. I have not smoked weed in almost 40 years but had already decided to make an exception if the occasion arose during the trip. It did and so I tested the waters and it wasn’t a bad thing. At some point, we moved the party inside, listening to music and pretending to watch some movie on television until we all crashed.