In my last post I shared a photo of my first glimpse of Mount Hood as we flew into Portland International Airport (PDX, obviously). And that was my welcome to this impressive city. We landed just after 10:30 a.m., so I had a long day ahead of me! My first task was to pick up my suitcase at baggage claim, which was a fairly simple process. Then, my research had revealed I should proceed to the MAX station to buy a ticket and board the next available light rail train to get to the city. And so I did. I piled all my gear onto the train and found  a seat. Within half an hour, I was detraining (well, it works for airplanes…) at the Oregon Convention Center. Next stop: food. I’m glad the Subway restaurant was only a couple blocks from the train station, and then I was pleasantly surprised to spot my hotel directly across the street. Still, the hotel would be a tad bit elusive.

Lunch was very timely and delicious, and it gave me a chance to sit and rest for a bit. I texted my roommate who had made the reservation, knowing she was due in just after 11. And that’s where my story gets awkward and uncomfortable. I’m sure some folks would be way to skeptical or safety-conscious to consider this, but I had agreed to share hotel accomodations with a stranger. I found Linda on a Ravelry message board thread about people interested in sharing their hotel costs during Sock Summit. The hotel prices were a bit out of my price range when I started looking, only because of the up-front payment and the fact that I was looking to stay for five nights. If I’d had more time to save up, it wouldn’t have been an issue. But Linda, also known as woolyartist online, was graciously open to sharing her hotel room, which was already booked for the same days I was needing. I sent her payment via Paypal for 1/3 of the room cost, as she had another roommate joining her from her guild. But I had also agreed to bring my air mattress, as the room had one king-sized bed, and we were trying to minimize costs, figuring that a roll-away bed may increase the room charge.

Now that I was a stone’s throw from the hotel, I was anxious to wheel my boat-load of stuff to my room so I could get out and explore. I got a bit flustered then, when Linda sent me a reply text that said they’d just landed…and since we couldn’t check into the hotel for a while, they’d see me in a couple hours. Gasp! I over-reacted thanks to exhaustion and hormones and a momentary lapse of faith, and I panicked a bit (sorry, Linda!). I asked if perhaps I could leave my luggage at the hotel’s registration desk so that I wouldn’t have to cart it around with me for “a couple hours.” After all, I had places to go, people to see! Replies from Linda took a while, and I’m sure the hustle and bustle of travel was the cause. You might think I should’ve just gone right to the hotel and asked them to hold my luggage, and eventually I did that. But I was initially hesitant because…I didn’t know Linda’s last name! After a lot of self-talk, I finally hauled my stuff over to the hotel’s lobby and approached the desk. Strangely enough, I did not panic when the hotel clerk told me they didn’t have any reservations for a “Linda”. So, I asked if I could sit in the lobby until the illustrious Linda arrived, which was fine. Eventually, my head cleared a bit, and I dug up the Ravelry message where I’d gotten her e-mail address to Paypal my share of the room charges, and the e-mail had her last name. Score! Still, they wanted to wait for her to arrive and check in. Well, a couple text messages later and Linda had asked them if I could check in ahead of them, and that’s what we ended up doing. Phew!

I was so relieved to have a place to leave my stuff. I think I took all of ten minutes to get over the stress that this mini-drama had caused. And, just a bit late in the game, I prayed. This was a prayer of thanksgiving as my adventure was resuming its course. Then I was off to the convention center. My plan was to pick up my registration packet and see about meeting up with the “other” new friend I’d made while planning for this trip. Becky had posted information about an event at the Oregon Brewers Festival, which opened on Thursday, and it seems she and I were the only ones who purchased tickets to the grand opening brunch before they sold out. In the two weeks or so before our arrival, we had exchanged messages with info about what classes we were taking and such, and a friendship began. Becky had invited me to join a group that would be touring downtown Portland on Wednesday afternoon, so I accepted, provided I could check in to the hotel in a timely fashion. Having accomplished that, I gave Becky info about how to recognize me (the perfect t-shirt: “Knit Big” in bold print across the front), and she found me straight away as I descended the escalator in front of the registration booth. While we chatted briefly, my roommate Linda, along with our other roommate, Kim, came up to me for introductions. And then the whirlwind began.

Our tour started at the Alder Street lunch carts, with 20+ vendor carts to choose from. I’d already eaten, so I just hung out with Becky, chatting and such. All the while, I was noting our surroundings. There was a group of musicians sitting on one corner, which captured my attention straight away. They were still there after we’d circled the block, too. I snapped a less-than-perfect photo as I was trying not to stare…

After everyone had eaten, we made our way to the first knitterly destination: Urban Fiber Arts in the Pearl District. We had fun petting the yarny goodness, and Skippyjon chose to nestle in the alpaca.

I was well restrained and did not make any fiber purchases, though I was certainly enjoying the view! Our next stop was Cupcake Jones, aka Dessert Extraordinaire! Perhaps I was a tad predicable, but I took a traditional approach in selecting the Downtown Chocolate Brown. Others dabbled a bit, selecting sampler-sized cupcakes in a variety of flavors. The most raved-about was the white chocolate marionberry. I was quite happy with my selection…

Next stop: Powell’s book store, which I have described as the Book Loft on steroids. The building takes up a city block, and features many rooms of books. I was on overload, though, and wanted to eat my cupcake in peace. Three of us headed to their coffee shop to get some sweetened caffeine to go with our confectionery delights. My mocha was amazing, not to mention ginormous!

That was just the boost I needed to keep me going, too. Next stop: Knit Purl, another LYS to drool over. And here I was taken by the wall of Koigu.

Our final destination on this tour was the Button Emporium. I did make a purchase here, though it’ll take time for me to decide how to use the goodies I bought.

Our group then returned to the Convention Center to sit and knit a bit. The organizers of Sock Summit are truly brilliant folks, and they had the foresight to place a whole slew of tables in the open space outside the meeting rooms so that knitters could do what they love, sit & knit & chat. Most of our tour group opted to sit and hang out, and eventually someone hatched a brainstorm of an idea for dinner. We’d had our fill of walking on the afternoon tour, and while the same guide (Denise, you rock!) had put together an equally brilliant evening tour to include dinner, most of our newly formed cluster decided to go with Plan B. Granted, we were a bit hazy about Plan B, but the key elements would be: ride the MAX, step off the MAX and enter a pub (someone had spotted something straight off the MAX, or so she thought), sit and eat & drink beer. Good plan, isn’t it?

We managed to pull it off, too, to some extent. We rode the MAX back across the river, and stepped off the train when someone spotted the illustrious pub. It wasn’t exactly “right off the train” but we only had to walk a block to get to the front doors of Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub. And thus began a very entertaining evening. While it’s true that “what happens at Sock Summit stays on Facebook, Twitter & Blogs,” I won’t regale you with all the tales of the evening’s entertainment. But I will share one tidbit because it was just plain cool. At some point during the evening, Becky looked up and spotted money on the ceiling. No kidding. Money. See?

I asked our server for the scoop. He explained, that this collection of cash is for charity. A one-dollar bill and two quarters, along with some Irish magic, will stick to the ceiling. Every year they do a sweep of the money on the ceiling and the money gets donated to the Children’s Hospital. Naturally, I forked over the cash to see our server demonstrate the magic. Success. Now, beer…(sorry, no photo of the Smithwick’s).

After dinner we were sufficient wiped, so we all made our way back to the MAX to find our way. A couple ladies in our party were in more remote locations, but we eventually discovered that three of us (including me) were at the same hotel, so it was nice to walk with friends. My very-long-day came to an end at last. And with the new day will come Sock Summit!

Knit on.