Adult Field Trip – Portland

Adult Field Trip – Portland

We thought it was about time to share another one of our Adult Field Trips, taking in Portland.  This place is made for an AFT.  , While we have been there a few times, the opportunity to explore had not been present as our main client has an office in the Portland area.  When we finally had a weekend off and the time to see downtown, the focus was on finding what the must do things were.  Beer, bikes, and Blues (well music) were the pieces to put together.

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Safety First

Portland has wonderful museums and galleries, a great place to pick up your cultural requirements but we chose to go the live music route.  Josh is a big fan of Trombone Shorty and could not believe our luck to see he was playing that weekend.  After securing tickets it was time to sort out rest of our weekend.  The cycling culture in Portland is prolific, a part of the very entrenched green living lifestyle.  There are all kinds of resources to find bicycle tours around the area, covering just about any subject you are into.  We found a place that rented bikes and decided that we would try out one of the brewery routes.  Now I’m not gonna lie, I am in no way proficient on a bike and this whole idea was a bit scary.  Amazing how much more confident I got after each stop, LOL.
Josh had participated in a guided bike and booze tour of New Orleans (Confederacy of Cruisers) and says it was the highlight of that trip, I can say that I am now a convert.  In bike friendly cities like Portland this is really the way to see things.  We crossed bridges and peddled through neighborhoods.  There is a delightful amount of street art.  On one of my first trips to Cincinnati my BFF Becky took me on a culinary tour, teaching me the art of trying a signature cocktail and snack at each stop.  It was the perfect way to see and taste the city.  We tried to do the same thing with our brewery tour.  Nearly all of these places served a small menu and it’s a very veggie friendly place.

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In all we stopped by Burnside Brewing Co., Hair of the Dog Brewery, Green Dragon, Buckman Botanical Brewery, Base Camp Brewing, and The Commons Brewery.  After all this a nap was in order, HA.  The Old Town area of Portland is laced with music venues and is a great place to hop around taking in tunes and enjoying even more local beers on tap.

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On day two with the Trombone Shorty concert later we decided to lounge about a bit and search out some of the spectacular food in the area.  I am a HUGE fan of farm-to-table restaurants, mostly because they offer a wider variety of vegetarian entrees.  Downtown Portland is home to some of the coolest boutique hotels available and it was in one that we found the Urban Farmer.  Honestly it wouldn’t matter which one you chose, but I would recommend adding a restaurant within a boutique hotel to your list, it’s a way to see two unique parts of Portland culture, even if you don’t stay at one.  We rarely do, as our travel is a bit different and we have negotiated rates with many large chains.

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While we didn’t visit a VooDoo dounuts this trip, it is a don’t miss.

So here is your list:

1. Portland Breweries, this is a mecca of micro brewing and a wonderful experience, new trends are set here.  There are about 70 breweries in the city proper and over a 100 in the metro, so even if you could try them all, would you remember it?

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-If you are a wine drinker then boy oh boy would Portland make you happy, we didn’t have time to stop at wineries on this trip but we had helped host a wine tasting party earlier this week.

2. MUSIC, it doesn’t matter where you go or really what you find the scene is so much fun

3. Think alternative transport, we got around the entire time on bike and Lyfts

4. VooDoo Donuts, they really are that good

5. Art and green living are essential to Portland life, you will see so many cool ways the two cross and how they like to keep local culture alive.  This is not the land of chains.

6. Find the food trucks!

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Coming This Week: Oct 2nd – 8th

You can see from the red pins on the map that we are getting a little time in Florida, it looks like we will spend the batter part of two weeks soaking in some sun.  We will need it, very shortly we will be off to Canada.

Courtesy of Google Maps

Courtesy of Google Maps

Song of the Week: B.E.R. – Night Begins to Shine

Week in Review: While heading north we had the most delightful thing happen, we were stuck in New York traffic NEXT to another MRA truck.  We have over the years seen another vehicle going to other way on an interstate and once at the same Penske but this was a first.  Thankfully they also had a chase vehicle that was able to capture this unique moment.  It was a fairly busy week with work but we did visit my beloved New Hampshire and enjoyed the lovely cool weather but there wasn’t time to go up to the SNHU campus this time.

Fun Photo of the Week: This was snapped by our co-workers Gordon and Robyn  Marks

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Know The Brand

We often make references to “Living the Brand”, which covers not just how you present yourself but also how you approach working on a new project. To create and maintain dynamic programing you will want to “know the brand” throughly and also have some insight into the industry. While we did extensive research about our German Headquartered client’s unique attributes, it was also essential to understand their American competitors. Had we developed the program with a narrow view there would definitely have been small elements we would missed that participants expect.

It is rare that you will be given the opportunity to reach new consumers who have zero exposure to your client’s segment. Whether they know your brand already, or at least some part of it, there are going to be expectations. Understanding how the competition approaches their marketing and programing allows you to not miss out on any triggers. But how do you find this info? The best place I have found to not only gather industry info but also what those top companies are doing is via a website called PR Newswire. This is a clearing house for organizations, PR Reps, and marketing firms to share press releases. There are also a number of research and statistical groups that contribute.

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For example my firm has partnered with Target in the past to showcase products from specific brands via a “sampling” truck.  While Target is a unique brand with some very distinct attributes it was necessary to also merge that with special features of the other brands.  Not only was it key to see what the other product lines in the segment were doing that summer but what sampling events had been done at the specific location the new program planned to visit.  Guests don’t get the full effect of a program if they don’t understand what is going on or how they are supposed to participate.  By doing a little research we could shape the experience in a way that consumers would be excited to enter and hopefully come out with a full enriched impression.

With a jumping off point it’s easy to get started and also figure out what questions you should be asking. Checking this site or one like it should become a habit, knowing what is going on around your client puts you in the position to give them solutions before there is a problem. Keeping a program fresh sets you apart as a vendor, keeping the client happy.

Bear and Flies, all of them Black

When Josh and I lived a sedentary life the possibilities for indulging in hobbies was near endless, fiscal resources aside.  In our first few years on the road it was an adjustment to pursue interests that also matched our nomadic lifestyle.  Dropped were the sewing machine and woodworking tools but we became avid backpackers based on our enjoyment in camping.  Having limited space for extra items in our tour vehicles forces choices to be made as to what you take and what you give up.  So why not indulge in travel related hobbies?  We dive, we hike, “he” fish.

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Day one, let’s go

Last week the opportunity presented itself to hop over to Shenandoah National Park, a favorite and frequent destination for us.  Since our break was a nice chunk of time we decided that starting with a four-day hike was just the ticket.  The plan was to do about 40 miles total on trails new to us.  It would be pretty much going up the mountain each morning and back down the other side near water in the afternoons to set up camp.  Evidently the local black bear population had similar ideas.  We were just into the first day when another hiker mentioned seeing a black bear on the trail.  So onward we went, keeping an eye out.  Josh was about 50 yards ahead of me on the trail when, and I’m NOT exaggerating, a small black bear fell out of a tree about 10 feet BEHIND him after he walked under a tree next to the trail!  Yes, the little guy pancaked onto the trail.  Flopped around for a second to get his bearings (tee hee) and scuttled off.  Now I have very little experience with bears but I remembered that you are supposed to make yourself big.  So I did, I put my arms up but then I got scared and made Josh walk back down the trail to come get me.  It was a bit unnerving and from the small size we were not sure if it was a cub or not.  But onward we marched, having a laugh about “Flapjack” the Bear (seriously he landed like a pancake out of that tree).  While the trail was a bit advanced and the miles high, it was all worth it.  Day two rolled around and it was another perfect day, slightly overcast but dry.  We were going into a higher trail, more forest than stream for most of the day, so one would think we wouldn’t have another bear encounter.  Well that was incorrect.  About midday Josh scared up another little fella, this one on the ground thankfully, I made myself big and Josh again had to walk back and get me.  Now laughing at my “getting big” reaction.  The third day was a stroll (not really it was a tough trail) to the bottom of another valley and stunning run with some large pools.  After a post hike dip we got to our set-up duties.  We each have tasks we prefer when it comes to get the camp set up.  I like to put up the tent and filter water, while Josh tends to deal with cooking and putting up the ropes for securing food at night (you know from BEARS).  While ensuring that we were parasite free and hydrated I got my first look at a full grown Appalachian Black Bear, they are similar to humans in size.  She was about 150-200 lbs and wholly unimpressed with my presence.  I got big, yelled for her to go away, she just chuffed at me and continued milling about the stream.  Thankfully Josh heard me and knew I needed some help.  He came over and banged rocks together; seriously there are so many things to remember when it comes to bear scaring.  She got the message and sauntered off.  So yeah we got the full bear experience and realized the other two were likely young adults on their own.  Not yet savvy to life without Mom.  Our little adventure didn’t stop there, round about 4am it started raining and we realized there were leaks in our rain fly.  YUP!!!  So….we decided around 6am to just pack up and hit it, we had 8 miles uphill to be made before we could get to a park store and some dry.  While it was a fairly miserable day, the trail was stunning, excluding the plethora of ever swelling river crossings, and there were NO BEARS.

Day two, one bear down

Day two, one bear down

Mountain high

Mountain high

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Day 3

Day 3

Day 3

Rain Rain GO AWAY

Rain Rain GO AWAY

We spent the next two nights at one of the park’s lodges, to dry out, and well, there are some real perks to this job.  I don’t say this often about hotels but it was very romantic, I think we will repeat that experience at some other parks in the future.  Upon getting to the lodge and airing out our gear, we examined the tent and discovered more than just a leak; all the glue had disintegrated from the seams and plastic windows! While this might seem like a deal breaker for some on more camping, Josh felt like it was nothing that a couple hours and roll of duct tape couldn’t fix.

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The View

The View

That very refreshing stay (along with the tap house at the lodge restaurant) put us back in the mood to hit the trail.  Off we went for a three-day jaunt on one of our favorite trails along Big Run.  This was going to be a ten-mile loop with the most perfect campsite at the bottom.  The plan was to make a paradise, it’s really that lovely, and spend two nights.  Relaxing on the middle day fishing and day hiking. At the top of mountain it was a touch buggy but after the rain with the sun out, which is to be expected.  Off we went, laughing about the cute bears we had seen from the car playing peek-a-boo with us (yup, add two more).  During the descent, the black flies started to get worse and worse, to the point where we were using our pack towels like horse tails trying to clear them from our faces every second.  Without the flapping, about every two steps, you were swarmed with flies dive-bombing our ears, eyes, and noses.  We busted the five miles down and set up the tent just to get a break and eat.  During the ten seconds the flaps were open for us to load in at least 30 of those little SOB’s followed us in.  There had been some hope that at the lower elevation and water the swarm might taper off, this was not the case.  A decision was made to just scrap the 3 day trip and get the heck out. (Or you might say bug out).  That’s how we made a 10-mile death march (haha Dave) all the while being attacked by black flies.  Just to add some spice to the end we ran into a momma back bear and her two cubs, although at this point I had no time for their shenanigans and ran them off hollering while slapping at black flies.

So ambitious

So ambitious

 

We were exhausted and bitten, but Pippi-less.  She stayed with a nice family outside the park for all this. Pippi is not a hiker.  Honestly she isn’t much for nature.  When we do go camping she fusses until we zip her into the tent.  Weird dog.  We boogied out (doing those ten miles and all the elevation in 6 hours) heading to Luray.  Instead of a pleasant day of fishing we played tourist and took in the caverns.  It was a lovely tour but the place is a TOTAL tourist trap! (If you can only do one, go to Mammoth in KY)

This pool of water is only 6 inches deep but looks 10 ft

This pool of water is only 6 inches deep but looks 10 ft

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So at the end of the day, it was a hoot.  Being road warriors you should consider hobbies that will enhance your travel and give you options in the places you go.  We hike and we dive. Over the mountains and under the oceans.   While many people might recommend choosing hobbies that don’t require “gear” these probably aren’t lifers.  Sometimes you just wanna have your own stuff.

***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***

Coming This Week: Sept 25th – Oct 1st

We are starting a fairly mile heavy, year-end push.  As you can see over the next three weeks we will be hitting a different markets, the rest of the year will be much the same.  This week has us up in the Northeast, with a stop near Boston and then onto my beloved New Hampshire.

Courtesy of Google Maps

Courtesy of Google Maps

Song of the Week: Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere

Week in Review:  Last week we had the opportunity to strap on our packs and do some hiking.  Being in Virginia for work it was an easy choice to scurry off to Shenandoah National Park.  We went out for a 4 day hike, it was amazing until the last day which consisted of nearly 8 miles in the rain, a touch unpleasant.  After a night in one of the lovely lodges within the park it was time for another hike, this was just going to be a three day trip.  Well that plan when to crap when we stumbled into a black fly hatch, it was insane.  We had to set up the tent just to get some relief and eat lunch.  Needless to say the day turned into a miserable 8 mile march just trying to get the heck out of there.  Alternate plan was a visit to Luray Caverns.  As you can see from below Pippi was less than enthused about the prospect of hiking and instead stayed with a nice family outside the park.

Fun Photo of the Week:

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