Kenny and Zuke's deli sidewalk sign Portland Oregon

day seven: oregonia to california

Today was the official day of Food Redemption. After a particularly awful cheeseburger last night in Portland (we failed to heed Jeff’s recommendation for dinner because we really wanted a burger instead- BIG mistake), we totally redeemed ourselves by taking his breakfast suggestions today…Kenny and Zuke’s Deli (home of the infamous “Body by Pastrami” t-shirts), followed by a perfect cappuccino and almond biscotti from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I’m here to tell you- this morning we hit one out of the park. My zucchini, tomato and swiss omelet at Kenny’s was absolutely stellar. Mom had cheese blintzes topped with fresh fruit compote- seriously, when did this become a food tour of America?? Oof, it’s starting to feel that way (*burst*)…

At the peak of my post-breakfast culinary high, I was excited to try out Stumptown for a couple of reasons: it’s owned by Matt Lounsbury, a fellow Wittenberger who (and this is entirely unrelated) assisted in my first rappeling experience, even though quite honestly he probably doesn’t remember it, but I do since I practically needed pushed over the edge of the cliff. That’s neither here nor there, but Jeff (a friend of Matt’s) has been talking up Stumptown for a while now, so I was pretty geeked to try it. And it did not disappoint. There was even a tiny and beautiful latte art heart in the foam. And the biscotti – oh my, all I have to say is, “nom nom.”

Leaving our breakfast utopia behind us, we headed south on I-5 out of Portland. The drive was awful in spots because it was downpouring for most of it. Twisty mountain roads + rain + giant logging trucks = a white knuckle driving experience. But we made it in one piece and ended the evening at a tapas restaurant and wine bar in Redding, California where we had the most amazing dish EV-ER. It was a baked cheese pastry consisting of melted Spanish white cheese, quince, and puff pastry drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Oh. My. Word. It was amazing. Pair it with a Malbec and voila- instant heaven on earth.

During the journey today, I started thinking about people (as I typically do, especially on long car rides), and that led me to some serious musing over connectedness in general. I think it all started with the Body by Pastrami shirts in the Portland deli, and remembering that when I was in New York a couple of weeks ago, Ben showed me a picture of a woman wearing one of those shirts. I couldn’t believe how crazy it was that I somehow ended up in that very same deli today, all the way across the country, completely by chance. And that led to me feeling overwhelmingly grateful that I’ve reconnected with old friends recently. I even found out (while at breakfast at Perkins in Spokane) that my friend Megan just had her second baby- and I didn’t even know she was pregnant. I regret how I’ve been too busy, too complacent, too “whatever you want to call it” to make a consistent effort to keep in touch with all of the people who matter to me. I have my immediate circle of friends who I talk to regularly, but outside of that, somewhere along the line it has become shamefully easy to let a day, a week, a month, a year go by without making an effort. And I want to stop that… because these recent experiences with people who matter to me are memories I would have missed out on had I not taken that first step and made an effort. In our daily lives, it’s all too easy to just go through the motions and take the beaten path- we don’t contact people because it’s too much work, or maybe we decide ahead of time that they won’t be able to get together anyway, so we just let relationships go, and they slowly and sadly fall by the wayside.

I hope in the coming days, months, and years I continue to change that course. I hope that if someone crosses my mind, I’ll actually pick up the phone or send an email rather than thinking, “I should really contact them sometime…” It’s not difficult, and you never know, it could lead to a phenomenal experience, a new memory, or a reconnect that both people need more than they know. Seize the opportunities to let people know they matter- that’s my thought for today. Chew it over with some cheese and puff pastry.

Onward to San Francisco tomorrow, our final destination…

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