Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Travels

I took the LSAT.

They...and by "they", I mean Kaplan test prep and every other source of advice I saw, heard, or read, that one should under no circumstances do either of the following two things the day before their LSAT: drink excessively and study. It is strongly advised that one not even "crack a book." The morning of is a different story. Then you should drink all you want. Just kidding. Then you should, if and only if you've found you score less well on the first section of a full-length test, no matter what it is, do a few practice problems as warm-up with your hearty well-balanced breakfast.

I had to take the LSAT in Salem, the capital of Oregon and about fifty miles from where I live. I decided that I didn't want to risk oversleeping or hitting weird traffic or anything else that could arise in fifty miles, so I booked a hotel not too far from the test site. Handsome Man accompanied me. We decided to turn it into a mini road trip weekend, a "romantic getaway" to the capital city. (For non-Oregonians, I should note that general consensus of those around me is that there is not much worth seeing in Salem. Picture a romantic weekend getaway to...Trenton. I imagine there are similarities.)

We took a meandering route to Salem, planning to do at least part of the Silver Falls Scenic Route. I would like to note that the northern half, the half which made sense to do on the way to Salem, is not very scenic. It seemed to be pretty dull until we got to Silverton, a place I'd like to visit again and where we unfortunately had to turn west toward Salem.


Handsome Man included for scale.

Handsome Man once non-seriously suggested that we make it a goal to visit every microbrewery in America. I took this suggestion seriously, so on our trip we visited three breweries and one winery. The above was taken at the tap room at Seven Brides Brewing in Silverton, which I recommend. Their seasonal beers, the ones I haven't seen in Portland, were great. The beers I have had in Portland were extra good at the brewery. Does that really happen, or did I imagine that? My Rain Man memory for numbers is failing me at the moment, but I remember that we were both very surprised at how inexpensive the flight of beer samplers and the nachos we split were.

We didn't take any dark blurry pictures at Gilgamesh Brewing in downtown Salem, where we had dinner and another flight of beer samples. (Note: Splitting two sampler trays does not count as heavy LSAT Eve drinking.) Again, we were impressed by how inexpensive everything is outside of Portland. I had a very fancy and amazing delicious chicken thing, and if I weren't writing this two months later, I might have remembered more details.

On Saturday, I took the LSAT. I might have been the happiest LSAT taker in all of Salem. Halfway through the test, I started beaming as I bubbled in answers, so happy I was that this day had come and even better, would soon be in the past.

This was after walking around our hotel parking lot as the sun rose over I-5, hugging a stack of books to my chest and telling Handsome Man that I didn't want to go at all.

Handsome Man arrived at the test site shortly after I finished the test with a potted miniature rosebush and a hazelnut iced coffee. He asked what I wanted to do to celebrate, and I told him I didn't want to go home. We discussed completing the Silver Falls Scenic Route and maybe going to Albany; after all, even though I have, Handsome Man has not yet been to the Calapooia brewery. We discussed heading west and picking a beach. Suddenly, I remembered that I promised two different people I'd pick up wine for them at Honeywood Winery. So, with no plan for the rest of the weekend, we stopped at the winery.

Honeywood Winery has a special place in my heart, because it is one of the first places I visited the first time I came to Oregon on my cross-country road trip in 2008 with my friend from Germany, whose code name is Broetchen. First of all, they do not have a tasting fee; you can sample five wines at no cost. Second, the wine is good. Third, they have a cozy yet large gift shop with many local products, such as a hot sauce from Eugene (the name of which escapes me at the moment) which HM and I love. Fourth, some of the wine has dogs on the label. I think they donate some of the profits to dog-related charity. Honeywood Winery has been a stop on many happy road trips (to San Francisco, to Crater Lake, to Eugene) and so I think of it with the combined happy memories of all of these trips. I think I also like bringing people to a winery that looks like it is in a warehouse, instead of an idyllic field of flowers and grapevines, and surprising them with what's inside.

This visit was no exception. The person in charge of the tastings was enthusiastic, pouring liberal samples that definitely exceeded five per person. The result was that I got pretty drunk. We could say that post-LSAT brain exacerbated this effect. I happily handed my credit card to Handsome Man, who filled a case of wine with not only that which we promised to bring back to Portland, but several additional bottles for us. We left Honeywood, and I fell asleep almost immediately once we had gotten into the car. I woke up in Lincoln City. We were just in time to see the sun set.

We had dinner at Roadhouse 101, the restaurant of Rusty Truck Brewing, where everything was good despite weird Yelp reviews.

The next day, I still wasn't quite ready to go home, so we detoured from 101 to visit Pacific City.


Please note that there are motor vehicles on the beach.

We had lunch at...yes, another brewery. Pelican Brewery was impressive in every respect. I am only writing so little because I have run out of steam.

I write this, my first blog post in two months, after a very long day. This is a statement of fact and not a complaint. I stayed at work an extra two hours to avoid unforeseen traffic, but the traffic reports only got worse, so I abandoned my car at the office and walked. I kept missing the streetcar or the bus by just a moment, so I kept walking. Two miles later, I had crossed into the time when the streetcar line that I needed switches to a less frequent schedule. I had thirty-three minutes to wait. Furthermore, most of the food carts in the pod nearby close at 3pm! It appears I may never be able to try them, open only for lunch on weekdays, not unless I happen to be downtown on a day off. Not all were open; fifteen minutes of my wait disappeared in my indecisive circling of the food cart before settling on pierogies for $4.50. It was a good choice. I believe the money I save by taking the streetcar may soon disappear into food cart pre-dinners. My next food cart dinner is going to be Fijian Indian curry!

The wait stretched on. I began to hear insensible yelling from somewhere within the same block; I never located the source. It was angry and ongoing, so I nervously moved to a stop two blocks further north. The streetcar, when it finally arrived, was peaceful until a loud drunk man boarded, he too insensibly shouting. It was when he became angry that his words became comprehensible. I disembarked a stop early just to get away from a repeated, "I PUSHED THE STOP BUTTON! C***!" Over and over again, the angriest c-word I've probably ever heard. When he exited, it was with a clipped maniacal laugh--"HA!"

I hurried home, suddenly hit with a chill. I should also mention, to complete your mental image of this adventure, that I was dressed kind of like a kook. I think I avoided harassment by any street crazies because I resembled one myself, by the time I got close to home, bundled and shrunken into my clothes, arms folded, shaking a little bit. And also wearing a bizarre mix of layers and bright-colored patterns and gray sneakers--because there was no way I was walking 2.8 miles in the heels I wore to work. Passing Safeway, I took pity upon myself and went inside.

There I found Kona Brewing Pipeline Porter on sale for about 75% of what other stores normally charge. This and the pierogies are vying for the best part of my day.

I am fully aware of the sad news coming from this region today, but I am writing these silly stories as a diversion, a break from bad news. I plan to continue to write about my travels of this fall, but for today, I just give you LSAT Weekend: The Beer Version. I will conclude by saying that this was the best possible LSAT weekend ever, that I wish everyone could have such a nice weekend surrounding a career-and-life-determining four-hour test, and that it was probably once of the nicest weekends I've had all year that just happened to have four or five hour of it occupied by a career-and-life-determining test.