Friday, May 21, 2010

The Folks, Part One

My parents came to visit at the end of April.  It was the Stumptown Comics Fest, and their buddy Brig is a cartoonist, so they all came up to make a Portland-y, comic-y weekend of it.

We've gotten good enough at getting around town car-free that when our visitors ask, as my folks did, whether they should rent a car for their visit, we say no.  We prefer not to use one if we don't have to.  Getting the car seat into new cars is a pain.  So get a hotel close-in, we'll get you on a bike, and we'll all have a better time.

They were only in town from Friday late to Sunday midday.  They took the MAX from the airport to the Lloyd Center Doubletree, where the con was being held.  We met up with them Saturday morning at a restaurant in walking distance of the hotel, then walked around Broadway a bit before heading back to spend the morning comic-ing.  By lunch we were pretty done with the main exhibit hall, and while Brig had some workshops lined up, the rest of us were ready to do other things.

I rented them each a Brompton from Clever Cycles from mid-Saturday to mid-Sunday, and so headed over with Dave after lunch to pick up the bikes.  I think Bromptons are about the ideal rental: they fit everybody, you can keep them safely in your hotel room when you're not using them, and they're strange-looking enough that they turn on end any performance-oriented hang-ups you might have about "being a cyclist."

We put two bikes on the Yuba:

Two Bromptons and a Baby on the Yuba

And one bike on the Steamroller:

Brompton on the Steamroller

And rode them all up to the hotel.

That evening, we rode bikes to dinner a couple of miles away.  It felt great being out in the city with my folks: me on the giant mama bike, everyone else like little ducklings on the tiny Bromptons.  I had talked them through Portland-style bicycling beforehand (use your signals, use the bike lanes, take the lane when you need to) and then was calling out instructions from behind: left turn!  Right turn!  Stay out of the door zone!!

Dinner was tapas at Toro Bravo and was fantastic.  We ate outside and, for the first little while, parked the Yuba with sleeping baby on the sidewalk by the table to keep an eye on him.  When he woke, we moved the Yuba back down to the conveniently-located bike corral and continued with dinner.  Good service, great food & drink, and you can't beat the company.

The next day, we planned to bike until it was time for them to go home.  We met up for breakfast at Voodoo Too and then went down to the river to do the Waterfront Park/Esplanade loop.  After that we headed east up Salmon to visit the Hawthorne district, did some shopping at Powells, and then cruised back to return the bikes at Clever Cycles.  We walked from there to the food carts at 12th & Hawthorne for crepes and then put them on a 70 bus back to their hotel, where they would pick up their luggage, hop on the MAX, and fly home.

I think what I loved most about this visit was how ordinary it was.  Aside from the bike rental, everything we did was part of my normal life (though, not ordinarily all in one day).  Because of that, I felt like we got to show my folks how we really live here, and how fun and easy and simple life with bikes (and without cars) can be.

Turns out, we made an impact.  Stay tuned for The Folks, Part Two.