Portland, 25–27-Jul-2013

We're now on the train home from Portland. The second half of the week was no less busy than the first half.

Thursday, 25-Jul

I got an early start on Thursday so I decided to walk down to Voodoo Doughnuts on my way to the conference, thinking I can pick up something to eat during the rest of the walk. Kinda busy, so I decided to pass, even though I probably would have been OK; I didn't want to have to bail just as I got close. Interestingly enough, when I walked by in the early evening, the line was just as long.

Voodoo Doughnuts

Voodoo Doughnuts

Some interesting things I saw at the conference during Thursday:

  • As we walked into the plenary session there were iPhone sync cables on each of the seats. Most of them had the old 30-pin dock connectors, but about 10-20% of them had the new lightning connector. People were hoarding the latter, and there were a lot of the former left as we walked out.
  • Some of the sessions were videotaped. On one of them, the woman running the camera had a headband on with little devil horns on them.
  • Another session had background music playing through the speakers before the AV guy fixed it.
  • One presenter had a demo where you could go to a URL and control little monkeys on the screen. The presenter flipped to do a live demo, flipped back to his presentation, and someone had created enough monkeys that you couldn't see the slide. He switched to the non-monkey version after that.

Since Melody was going to be out for the evening, I decided to do a bit of walking around and taking photos, but not too much since I was carrying my laptop and charger in addition to my full camera kit. On the way back across the Steel Bridge, I saw it was going up, so that was fun to see.

Steel Bridge raised

Steel Bridge raised

I walked down Waterfront Park, past the busy Brewfest, and took a quick look at Mill Ends City Park to grab some photos of it. Thinking that by walking back I'd be about done for the day, I worked my way there, grabbing dinner and ice cream on the way, with a quick spin through Powell's Books.

Melody also did some walking along the river, but she concentrated on the east side of the Willamatte. That evening she went to see The Taming of the Shrew and had a great time.

Friday, 26-Jul

Last day of the conference. This was the only day where I wasn't going up and down stairs between sessions, since all my sessions were on the same floor.

The conference finished around noon, so I worked my way back to the hostel, dropped off my laptop, picked up my camera, and Melody and I headed out. The first order of business was to get lunch, and we got some really tasty fish tacos at a food cart in the downtown area.

No longer hungry, we hopped onto the streetcar and rode to the end of the line to OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science of Industry). It had been a long time since we had last been there, but it came back to us quickly. We didn't opt to see the Mummies exhibit, and looking back, that seemed to take about a third of the exhibit space, so it felt as if there wasn't a lot of the hands-on things you come to expect at a science museum. There was, however, an exhibit of National Geographic photos which were spectacular. We also saw a planetarium show, although once again, it's not what you'd expect; there was no star projector in the middle, rather it was more of a movie experience.

OMSI entrance

OMSI entrance

Being done at OMSI, we headed up to the streetcar stop to go back. There seemed to be quite a few people there, but checking the status it was still going to be about 15 minutes before the streetcar would show up. More people came along, and the mom sitting next to us valliantly tried to explain to her kids what was going on. The readerboard also showed another car was showing up just a couple minutes later.

Our streetcar finally showed up, and we all poured into the air-conditioning. Since we were at the end of the line, it takes a few minutes for the driver to secure everything, move to the other side of the train, and get going. In the meantime, the follow-on streetcar had to wait for us to leave the station to free up the space, so those passengers had to wait a while.

Yes, a third paragraph about the streetcar. So we're going along when suddenly the driver announced, "After two more stops, this streetcar will be turning around and going back to OMSI." What? We got off, hopped on the next streetcar (which was still right behind ours), and were wondering just how one turns a streetcar around. Ends up there's an extra set of rails and power which allows the streetcar to go back across the bridge. Sure beats picking up the whole thing and moving it one block over.

After all that drama, the rest of the day was pretty pedestrian. Got dinner, some ice cream for dessert, then headed back to the room.

Saturday, 27-Jul

It was luxurious to be able to sleep in, but we ended up waking early, anyway. We finished up the rest of our breakfast food (the hostel provides bread, so we just had fruit, yogurt, and cheese), went to Trader Joe's to get lunch and snacks for the train, then returned to finish packing.

After checking out, we headed over to the train station. We ended up walking the mile since taking transit would have taken longer and not cut out that much walking.

Union Station

Union Station

We knew we would be at the station a little early, so we sat for a little while waiting for seat assignments to be made. Once that was done, it wasn't long before we went out to find our car and seats. We left right on time, and not long ago crossed the border into Washington. It's been a good trip, but we're looking forward to being home and seeing what the heat has done to our garden and yard (hopefully things will still mostly look OK).