Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

Sorry this is the only picture I got from my urban adventure since I left my camera at home this day and my phone is all messed up at the moment. As usual here is one I shot while driving to wine country a previous day.

Pardon the short interruption from part 2.  All I must say in my defense is that I partied like a mother fucking maniac over the weekend thus leaving me utterly a mess. I am mostly recovered now through and through I will proceed where I left off.  If your lost check out Part I and Part II by clicking each one’s respective link.

Running a muck around the city of Portland for a day

I woke up on my new friend Lily’s couch feeling rather alright all things considered.  I had set aside the entire day to explore around the city, plus after three full days of hanging out with just my parents, as much as I love spending time with them, I just needed a break.  I was beginning to feel like I was 16 and living at home again.  The only difference being this time they could not take away my booze.  A well deserved free day as I like to call it was a foot.  My parents or at least my dad, are very locked in to a set plan.  Everything is on some kind of itinerary and if an opportunity happens to present itself, but it is not on said schedule they get all bend out of shape.

Personally when I am not a work I do not really have a set plan minus the tide/wind/swell patterns for surfing.  Other then that I’m pretty wide open to just about anything and everything.  My mantra to at times my dismay is that “I will try anything once” and “whats the worst that can happen”.  There are plenty of other dumb little sayings I subscribe to but these two fit this case the best.  There are plenty of times in my life where I never do anything I set out to because other occurrences happened to change my plan.  That is why I always use the term adventuring when I go out and about cause everyday can be an adventure if you keep an open mind and are flexible.

Do understand though this philosophy has cost me a wife, a serious girl friend, countless friends and many, many, many a job.  Such is life.   I woke up and initially I thought I would hit up my old friend Grant who lived in the area and as a result of conflicting schedules and his Casanova like love life had yet to link up.  The girls got up and had a plan on us all doing brunch.  Being a chef they asked what I was feeling.  In my usual fashion I asked to be taken to the jankiest place in town with the best comfort food ever.

Sure enough they did not let me down.  They had a few places in mind one a place called “The Screen Door” looked and smelled just right, but it had a wait and a half for a table.  While waiting Melissa mentioned something about biscuits and a place that only serves just that.  This I had to see.  The establishment was called “Pine State Biscuits”  I must say I was blown away.  There was a line down the block to even place an order, but there was a bar next door that had no problem pouring you a beer at 11am while you waited.  Apparently there was no problem with drinking on the street as well there.

If I was a fan of day drinking it would have been on.  We ended up ordering three contrasting dishes so that all of us could get a feel for the place, a savory dish, sweet dish and their house special.  The savory dish was sort of a take on eggs benedict over a biscuit but with bacon,  The sweet was fruit and yogurt over a sweet dough biscuit and the house special was a giant biscuit tower encompassing eggs, bacon and a giant piece of chicken.  Let me just say I almost want to make another trip up to Portland just to eat at this joint again and it was fucking cheap too.

After this amazing breakfast it was back to Lily’s apartment where I needed to figure you just how the fuck I was going to get back to Vancouver.  As it turns out public transportation with in the city works rather well, but getting across the river is a headache at best Monday thru Friday and nearly impossible on a Saturday.  SOL at the moment Lily decided we should go on a bike tour of the city, while running some errands she needed to get done.

All this seemed fine and dandy except for the fact that I was still wearing my out clothes from the night before, rather expensive dress shoes, dress pants and decent shirt.  Since I got it all at a thrift shop for next to nothing anyway I figured what the heck.  I couldn’t remember the last time I rode a bike.  Just like that I found myself riding all over town.  In Santa Barbara I would have looked a bit out of place riding about dressed as such but in a more urban city I think it went over well.

Cruising around definitely gave a different perspective on things.  Usually I pack a skate board and view the city that way cause lets face it city’s are the best playground a skater could ask for.  I wish had packed a skate since Burnside is right there in the heart of Portland, one of the better gorilla concrete skate parks in existence.   We meandered about town with an ultimate destination being the water front.  I must say the architectural lay out of things was very enjoyable with new and old styles all over.  There were cobble stoned streets in some areas, street cars, a giant street festival that apparently happens monthly, and a farmers market all going down.

At the water front we were to reconvene with Melissa for a little out door picnic.  While exploring the water front we came to a break dance off.  I guess these kids do it at the end of the summer every year.  They had a great little 8’x8′ cardboard floor taped up and a dude spinning off a boom box.  It was a sick little competition to watch.  Then they asked if anyone wanted to join the battle and I figured why the fuck not.  I used to throw down back in my younger days.  Long story short I got served pretty hard.  Hey I was still the best dressed.

The picnic was nice.  We had a bit of Sake, and other little snacks.  The weather was as good as anyone could ask for.  The view was great.  The river was bustling with activity and so was the river walk.  Dudes cruising on skate boards, freaks walking about.  Bums doing the bum thing.  As we were enjoying this evening all of a sudden these sprinkler heads came up out of the ground and began dousing us with water.  We made a mad dash for safety and poor Melissa took the brunt of the water.  Someone had to jump on the grenade.

From there it was a ride back to Lily’s where I managed to not get hit by a car.  Not used to riding a bike or a bike in such a busy setting I must say I was proud to have survived with out any major incident.  Once again the painstaking task of figuring out how to get home ensued.  I called my dad and figured out that I could take a train all the way to the airport which was right across the river from where we were staying and he would pick me up.

The Wedding

My lovely family with our soon to be new member my sister’s fiance Larry.

The reason I ended up in Portland in the first place was because I was there for a wedding, my cousin’s wedding.  I guess the gal he was marrying was from that way and thus that was where the wedding took place even though they both live in DC now.  To be honest if it was in DC I most likely would not have went, but I had never been up to the pacific northwest and figured what the hell.

This was the first wedding I had decided to attend since my own marriage failed over five years ago.  I thought I could handle it but as time to leave got closer I found myself pouring rum and coke after rum and coke till I had a nice little buzz.  The ceremony was the usual.  The bride was really happy.  I tried to get a drink at the start of it but the bar tender said it was disrespectful.

Finally the ceremony was done and the bar opened.  The house wine was cheap trash but the bride’s parents supplied some cases of pinot noir and pinot gris from a local vineyard that were amazing.  The food on the other hand was far from spectactular most everything with the exception of the tuna tar tar bites I am sure were previously frozen out of a box.  I use the same stuff for catering gigs at Westmont.  I expected more of the caterer.

The reception was held on a boat which was to take us on a three hour river tour.  All Gilligan jokes aside at my level of intoxication that by the time I was on board was very high I was definitely at a high risk of falling over board.  I just realized I had not commented in the outfits of the bridal party.  The bride and groom were very well dressed.     My cousin’s tux was solid, I could not have picked a better one myself.

The brides maids wore very elegant blue gowns that flattered them all well, even the bigger ones.  The groomsmen had matching black suits that looked nice enough.  Not everyone could wear a custom made off white Armani suit with designer Italian shoes like I was.  Person for person I would have to say my family were some of the best dressed.  Woman wise well its a long way from Santa Barbara and there were very slim pickings aboard that ship.  I think the wedding planner had the best ass in whole place, which I grabbed while making my way to the bathroom and told her we ought to make shit happen after the wedding.

I was really shocked she did not come find me at the end.  The food at the reception was average at best.  The steak was over cooked, the salmon poorly presented and I don’t know if it was just that I was way too hammered at this point but I had a really hard time working the buffet utensils to put food into my plate.  Not surprising the wedding cake was nothing to write home about either.  Dancing kicked off, but there was no one on the floor besides a few brides maids and the flower girl.

My mother provoked me to hit the floor.  I talked the DJ into playing “September” by Earth Wind and Fire for my entrance.  I danced a few tunes before finding my way to the top deck where I some how was given a cigar and was puffing away till the boat came to dock.  Apparently there was an after party that I guess I was not A-list enough to get invited to.  How you could have an after party and even call it a party with out Chris Lisanti is beyond me.  Maybe they were just jealous cause I was the best dressed there.

Click here for part four and the conclusion of my pacific northwest excursion.

Read Full Post »

Whats left of the once picturesque mountain type.

When I travel I am not one to sit around get a sun tan, especially in a place I have never been.  For me its all about adventuring and true to the source my parents are the same way.  I guess that is where I must get it from.  We all had a serious urge to go check out Mt. St. Helen’s in Washington the site of one of the most violent volcanic eruptions ever recorded in north America back in 1980.  Although the explosion took place a year before I was born I picked up a picture book on the incident at a yard sale and it was one of my favorite books as a young-in.

The barren volcano among the green pine filled landscape.

My parents and I cruised up to the site of the blast and I must say it is a very impressive sight to behold for a number of reasons.  First the blast itself ripped off the entire top of the mountain.  Then the shock wave from it ripped down every tree within a 17 mile radius and scorched others with in 30 miles.  57 people were killed including the scientists studying the seismic activity at the time.  Now thirty years later there is actually some life beginning to take shape in not only the surrounding areas but even around the area just at the foot of the mountain.

It got me thinking about how life will prevail even in the darkest of places.  I took it further to symbolize how life goes on despite occurrences no matter how adverse.  As it turns out ground hogs who had been hibernating when the eruption took place and were then buried by up wards of 75 feet of ash managed to claw their way to the surface and helped to bring plant life back to area. Imagine how fucking pissed off they were to have to do all that extra digging only to pop up and find their home completely trashed.  Insects and bacteria did as well.  In a way it was like miniature model of how life came to Earth.

These tree stumps are all that is left of an old forest torn to pieces by the blast. If you look closely at the surrounding hills you can see hundreds of downed trees. Yet around all this death and destruction new life is starting to take shape.

After leaving Mount St. Helens we heard that in the town of Castle Rock there was a giant Rock that stuck out over 100 feet into the air.  We drove all over the place trying to find this thing only later to find out that it was in the center of the town but that trees have all grown over it.  I guess the Indians used it for navigation back in the day but hundreds of years later it is  nothing more then a hill covered in foliage. Talk about the tour book blowing it.  The town itself was this really quaint little mountain town one would expect of the area.  I think they should rename the town Tree Covered Rock so as to stop any future confusion.   That night I cooked us up a nice steak dinner over orzo pasta in a lemon basil olive oil sauce.

Oregon Wine Tasting

I have been as of late enjoying all different blends and varietals from both Oregon and Washington.  Being a wine enthusiast I just had to make my way out to the wine country for a tasting.  According to most sources it seemed like Mc Minnville, Oregon was the closest center for local wines to where I was staying.  We cruised out to do some tasting but as a result of heavy holiday traffic my parents and I did not arrive in town till well after 3pm and most tasting rooms in the area closed at 5pm.  My dad had highlighted a tasting room which his tour book said represented the broader spectrum of the area’s varietals.

It turns out that part of the world is know for their Burgundy like reds and pinot noir. Being from Santa Barbara I happen to come from a place that grows some of the better pinot noir I just had to indulge.  I started chatting it up with the sommelier and next thing you know she is pulling out vintages and blends not on the tasting menu.  Let me say I was very impressed.  So much so I spent a bit more there then I had expected to and joined the wine club.  Time was of the essence considering everything was about to close.

The sommelier recommended two more tasting rooms to check out one a personal friend of hers who specialized in Italian varietals,  barbera, sangiovese  and a blend.  My Italian pedigree made this one a must stop for me.  The wine maker was a total bitch to me the entire time I was there thus ruining my tasting experience.  I must say though her barbera was very good. Given her attitude I was not about to spend a penny at her place. I got one more tasting in that was average before the day was over.

The town on the whole was pretty cool.  It reminded me a lot of Red Bank New Jersey, this little artsy town near where I grew up.  I would have liked to have hung out there a bit longer but my parents were over it so back to Portland we went.

A Night on the Town

Initially when I booked my trip I was told that Vancouver, Washington was just “steps away” from the city of Portland.  I know people in the pacific northwest on the whole are taller then much of the majority of America but even for them the route to Portland needed some big steps and many of them.  I suppose it was about time I got a taste of my own medicine, “yeah guys its just down the street”.  The fact of the matter is in order to get to the city from where I was staying it took at least a twenty minute car ride and the crossing of two bridges.  Forget about public transportation. There were a total of three buses that got over the river.  Out of that only one ran on weekends and none past 9pm.

Basically I was trapped stuck at the whim of my parents.  I felt like I was 15 again except I did not have a bike or high school sluts to sneak around with.  After 72 hours of nothing but the folks and the sleepy town of Vancouver I needed to get out.  I needed to party.  My friend Grant from back in the day had too much  going on for us to link up for some debauchery.   About to solo it my good friend and UCB hero Mauriello said I should hit up his friend Lily from college who happened to just recently move up to Portland for work.

This is what I have been constantly preaching here people, the coconut wireless, friends of friends of friends.  My whole life I have benefited from the loose connections I have with others and in return have offered up the same hospitality.  Fact of the matter is if you were to hit me up in Santa Barbara and mentioned you got my info from a friend of mine as far as I am concerned you are now a friend of mine and I will do what I can for you.  Lily in this case really came through for me.

My parents and I were going out to dinner at this fancy over priced steakhouse Morton’s in the heart of the city.  I hit Lily up and told her I was in town.  She just happened to be hitting the scene that night too and clued me in to a hot spot her and a friend were at.  Morton’s by the way was terrible.  My filet mignon was over cooked and poorly cut and so were my parents’.  I could have made a better meal myself for half the price at least.  The wine was good.

From Morton’s I left my parents with the reassurance “I have no idea whats going to happen, if I’m coming home tonight, tomorrow, or if I will even survive.  I love you.” and cruised to the club.  The place was called Blitz and from the outside it looked like my kind of place.  Neon lights, sick music and I mean sick music.  The DJ was this black dude with dreads and he was fucking killing it.  I literally danced all night.  The bar was packed shoulder to shoulder making ordering a drink very difficult.  At first I was being all polite waiting my turn and in the process getting pushed and shoved by everyone in attendance.  Finally I put on my boxing gloves and fought my way to the bar.

Everything was so cheap compared to Santa Barbara.  A tall rum and coke and a shot ran me $10.25.  I know whats with the fucking 25 cents.  I left at the end of the night with a pocket full of fucking quarters.  I met up with Lily and her friend Melissa  and lots and lots of dancing ensued.  Melissa bowed out early.  Lily asked me if I was over it and I just looked at her and replied “who do think your talking to?”.  The club ran till two am.  There was in impromptu limbo contest that this Asian kid owned,  I got into a dance off with this random chick but then somehow lost her in the crowd.

Lily offered me up her couch for the night, which was way better then my initial plan to go home with a fat girl if all else failed rather then spend over $80 on a cab home.  Unfortunately Lily gave her keys to Melissa leaving us locked out hanging on the steps of her apartment building waiting for someone to hopefully show up.  At 2:30am it was rather unlikely.  Eventually Melissa called Lily to see if she was alright and as it turned out she was in Lily’s apartment all along and she passed us down the key.  It was good cause I was starting to get hypothermia out there as my alcohol blanket wore off.  All and all I would say it was a solid night of party.

Click here for par 3 where I will discuss my day of urban exploration in the city of Portland and the wedding.

My Dad and I in front of some new pine tree growth less then a few miles from the base of the volcano.

This is some Mexican guy with one arm in a cowboy hat. I like to imagine he lost his arm bull fighting but most likely it was due to a logging accident. Yeah, I’m an idiot but a romantic idiot…

Read Full Post »

The Columbia River from the Washington side looking up stream.

I awoke face to face with nothing but scenic vistas in all directions and gigantic evergreens in my vantage.  The air sort of had this extra freshness to it as I stepped out on the balcony of the house I a was staying at and gazed out over the river.  Im not used to looking at a body of water that ends so abruptly.   Still though the veiw there was rather breathtaking.  If  you were to throw in a point break I would be set.  I can’t remember if ever, the last time I saw so many trees.

The baller house I have been staying in. Nothing but the lap of luxury in Lisanti Land folks even on the road.  Lets just call this Lisanti Pacific Northwest HQ for this series.

To think less then ten hours ago I was in Santa Barbara who beautiful in her own right is like a completely different world.  Its been a long time since I had to do the whole travel thing, at least a year.  Besides the usual hassle of travel I also had the headache of a new roommate moving in while I’m out of town, a transition I would have really liked to have been there for.  I had family business in the form of my cousin’s wedding and since he did come to my now defunct marriage I figured I owed him the same favor.  No; I did not sleep with the bride. (everyone I told I was coming up for this wedding had warned me about such including my own mother.  Even I’m not that encouragable.)

I arrived super late with no major travel problems besides some over booked seating problems in San Francisco that caused a minor ten minute delay.  My new roommate dropped me off at the airport. I gave her a hug handed her the keys, told her please don’t wreck my car, kill my cat or burn down my apartment.  If I return and she has managed all three of these feats, completely destroying everything I have worked so hard to accomplish in the last few years I think then I am just going to cash out and get on a plane with nothing more then the clothes on my back and start a new.  The irony in that the remainder of my life I secured on my own to be completely destroyed by a woman is priceless in a literary sense.

One thing I must commend having short hair on is the ease through airport security.  What used to be a real nuisance of double security and full body checks now is a smile and “have a nice flight”.  Not traveling with a coffin chuck full of surfboards makes life much easier as well.  Having no checked luggage for that matter. I had the last fight out of the night and got into Portland after midnight.

My mother and I stayed up late catching up on things.  It was really nice to see my parents after the long time apart.  Next morning I cooked up a nice breakfast of omelets, toast, home fries and sausage. From there we decided to explore the bit of the up river portion of the Columbia River on the Washington side.  The goal was to work our way to the Bonneville dam to see the fish ladders.

This little guy only had about twenty more steps to go!

The Pacific Northwest and the Columbia River is riddled with dams.  In this area Salmon need to swim up stream in order to spawn.  These dams make getting to their breeding grounds near impossible.  In order to save the species and thank god by the way cause those guys are tasty mother fuckers all of the dams in the the area are build with a intricate system of steps and switch back so these fish can get past the dam.  I have always read and seen pictures of the system but now with it right in striking distance I had to go.

The fish ladders on the Bonneville Dam. They have to climb 75 of these against the current. If I had to do that just to get laid I think I would not even bother.

On the way to the dam we past this giant wood carving of Sasquatch that I made my dad  stop for a picture.  I mean how could I let that not happen? It turns out this was the entrance to the actual town of North Bonneville.  I would later find out as a result of an expansion project on the dam the town was moved about ten miles or so down river cause its original location was right on the plain that needed to be flooded.  Isn’t progress grand.  The poor fish have to bust their ass climbing countless steps against the current and an entire town had to pick up and move.  God bless America! Hey everyone gets cheap electricity. This town had this cute little park with all of these life sized wooden carvings of Sasquatch and I must say I got a kick and a half out of it.  Which meant lots of stupid pictures.

This is my Dad and I. He was not about the showing his sasquatch claws.

After losing an hour playing around with the wooden sasquatch we continued on to the dam.  Although it was far from the biggest dam I have ever seen the spill ways were going, which I have never seen before.  There was tons of water shooting all over the place.  I was sort of enticed on the notion of getting in a little boat and paddling around but none were to be found.  Turns out the dam was open for tours.  I could not turn down such an offer.  I had a choice of the turbine room or the fish ladders.

The Bonneville Dam spill ways in action!

Being my dad used to build power plants for a living I had a very good idea how turbines worked but have never seen fish swimming up stairs.  Inside the dam they have built these windows where visitors can actually view the fish swimming up the stairs.  It was pretty entertaining and then I found another job I need to work before I die.  In the fish room there was a lady hired whose sole job was to count the fish as they went through the dam.  Her job title: fish counter.  New life goal, become a fish counter.

We horsed around the dam, my dad got cut by some of the dam barbed wire (sorry couldn’t help myself) before we were thrown out at 5pm for closing time.  All that fish watching made me hungry for some salmon.  Before getting some fish we decided to visit a lake in the town of Camas.  Being from the ocean we find all these rivers and lakes rather novel.  It was nothing really to write home about, just your basic lake.   From there we procured some salmon and went back to Lisanti Pacific Northwest HQ.  I cooked up a nice grilled salmon dinner over risotto with roasted corn on the cob.  I don’t think one could ask for a more full day. Click here for part II.

Here is a slide show with some of the other photos I took from Day 1:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »


Last night I got home from work, did some laundry, my usual internet prowling then threw on “Good Will Hunting”.  I recently scored it for 50 cents on VHS  and I don’t know if its childhood nostalgia or the fact that I still rock a 23 inch tube television, but there is something so much more inviting when watching a VHS over a DVD.  I have always been a fan of the film.  Say what you want about Affleck, Driver, Williams, and Damon but this film works and is powerful on so many different levels.

The character Will Hunting is a perfect example of human alienation in society.  Here is this extraordinary human being who as a result of a tough up bringing and a remarkable gift has become a societal recluse finding life easier to study on his own, clean the floors of MIT and on occasion secretly answer other people’s thesis projects in a few moments that took its master years to come up with.  When his talents are brought to the light it causes him a whole host of problems.

Would have taken a clip from the actual movie but this clip from “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” was just way more entertaining.

The movie got me to thinking everyone in the film had sort of settled into their own personal comfort zone.  I don’t really know if that is a good thing or not.  Lately I sort of feel like that is what I have done.  When I moved to Santa Barbara five years ago I had all these goals and visions of what might become of my life.  Now five years later I must say things have gotten rather mundane.  I surf the same spots, have worked the same job for three years now, am a permanent fixture at the same club.  I made this place my home.  That’s what you do when your home, develop a routine and stick with it.

It works.  I am 100% self sufficient.  I have learned how to make a “dollar our of fifteen cents” and exist in a city where the cost of living well exceeds the average income.  It exceeds my income by at least double.  I guess I am comfortable.  At work I am sure of myself and am working the job to the best of my ability.  Surfing wise I know all the breaks, when their best and for the most part how to ride them the best to my own personal ability.  My living space, ahh the Lisanti Palace.  Lets just say I made genie in a bottle type of situation.

Yet I find myself excruciatingly bored.  As of late that boredom has turned to frustration and even at times anger.  It has me asking “what is next for Chris Lisanti”?  Or is this it?  To quote Jack Nicholson from “As Good as it Gets”, “What if this really is as good as it gets”?  I suppose then the existence I have eked out is not that bad.  Complacently content?  I don’t know.  Have I hit a plateau?  I do live on the Mesa after all.

My entire life I had always been climbing this inevitable steep slope to an unknown peak.  Many of time I felt like Sisyphus.  I realize now that those times of intense hardship may have been the most invigorating.  When I blew out my knee and wondered if my surfing career was over, when everyone in the establishment said I was too commercial to make a dent on the sax, when I was brought to my knees by my ex-girl friend and lost a year of my life to drinking. Maybe  those were the times that were the most stimulating.  I don’t know…

Lets hope that I am just walking through a valley right now in between then next slope to climb.  Santa Barbara is a pretty darn nice valley to be in, my Rivendell.  At the moment I am going to make the most of what is around me and try and stay as relatively positive as a person of my demeanor can.  Heck I am sure there are scores of people who look at everything I have, and what I have accomplished and where I am right now who would happily take it.  I won’t sit here and cry.  On the contrary, this is me just thinking out loud.

Now for the reason I really began writing this.  In about five hours I will be boarding a plane to Portland, Oregon to meet up with some family for my first cousin Rich’s wedding.  I am not really one for weddings in general, besides the open bar and excuse to where a suit.  This is one I could haves easily declined like so many of the other’s in the past.  For whatever reason when I got the invitation a few months back something told me I needed to be there.   Truth be told I have not been anywhere outside of California and Southern California mind you since I went to Australia five years ago.  There was a time when if I was in the same place for more then a few weeks I got antsy.

This is rather out of character for me, but I am rather excited to get out of Santa Barbara for a few days and even more enthralled to get to spend some quality time with my family some of whom I have not seen in almost two years.  Remember I am Italian so to be a stranger for so long is considered disrespectful and borderline ex-communicable.  Also I am not bringing a board and have not surfed since last Tuesday.  I won’t be back till next Tuesday meaning this will be one of the first times not being injured that I went 14 days with out a surf session. I am bringing my computer so stay tuned for some travel blogs via Oregon with pictures and hopefully adventures.  Talk you from Portland folks.


Read Full Post »