Friday, August 31, 2012

Hotel Porn #4

Porn titles crack me up.  We recently stayed at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront.  Before I started checking Hotel Porn titles regularly, I had no idea that many hotels, across various chains have the exact same films.  What a great company to work for -- the one who sells porn to hotels.  Here are the best (new) porn titles from the Marriott in Portland:

  • Lick My Punk Rock Pu$$y -- What makes it Punk Rock? A Mohawk?
  • TITTYPalooza -- The -palooza suffix makes everything better.
  • Big Dick in a Latina Chick -- Everyone loves a stuffed taco, right?
  • SexSomnia -- "With SexSomnia, nothing is real. Everything is far away. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.
  • SUPERCougar: In HD -- Is HD really necessary?
  • MILFgasms -- Gross
  • My Mom's a Whore -- Who is filming this scenario? The "Whore's" son? 
What is your favorite porn title? Have you started checking the titles when you stay in a hotel?  Have you noticed that many of the hotels have the same porn selections?

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

PNW Roadtrip: Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront

The Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront Hotel is a place I've stayed countless times. When my dad was sick, I'd often stay here before an early morning flight back to Chicago. The location is great - right along the waterfront in downtown Portland and less than 15 minutes to the Airport. You can't beat the location.

One issue I've had lately with hotels in Portland is the price. I remember just a few years ago, I was able to find a nice hotel downtown for less than $150/night (often less than $120). Whenever I look now, everything is over $220. Portland is a real city so $220/night is not unreasonable - I just have an irrational problem with spending this much on a room in Portland (totally, irrational).

We arrived and valet parked our car. The lobby had been renovated since my last visit - it was a bit dark but had a nice modern feel.  We were assigned a king room on a high floor (which we had requested).  The room was clean (a nice surprise considering the recent hotels I've been in lately, like here).

This was a pretty standard Marriott room. It took us sometime to find the thermostat -- you'll see from the photos it was hiding behind a lamp shade.  You'll also see this room had a door connecting it to the neighboring room.  I really loathe this setup. These doorways aren't properly insulated, so you can always hear the people in the room next to you.  Luckily this evening, the neighboring room was unoccupied. Whew.

We did have a large spider crawling around on the ceiling, which I had to murder right before bed. We started calling this guy the Marriott Spider and often joke about him now. The jokes probably make more sense if you were there...


Where is the thermostat??
Oh, there it is...hiding.
Chair blocking the door
 to the adjoining room.
Great view from our room.
Where do you stay when you are visiting Portland? Do you find comfort in staying in a hotel that is pretty much the same at every location, no matter the City?

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

PNW Roadtrip: Portland: Japanese Garden / International Rose Test Garden

As traffic started to slow to a crawl, I decided to direct MS to take the next exit. I didn't tell him where we were going. He later admitted he was a bit disappointed because he thought we were going to the Zoo (same exit) and wasn't really looking forward to a Zoo visit. Good thing that wasn't in my plan.

Unlike most of this trip, I had been to the Japanese Gardens before.  These gardens occupy a bit more than 5 acres in the West Hills of Portland. These gardens have been called the most authentic Japanese Gardens outside of Japan.  Luckily when we were there, there wasn't a ton of people.

Like the rest of this trip, the GPS gave us some funky directions -- and the signs aren't all that clear (to us) either. So we spent about 20 minutes driving through the area trying to find the gardens. We almost gave up, but I am glad we didn't.

These gardens are so tranquil, but surrounded by a very active park - people running, playing and even the zoo train goes right by this place, but it was still very calming.










Right next to the Japanese Gardens is the oldest continuously operating public rose test garden in the US. The garden is about 5 acres as well and is home to approximately 7,000 plants and more than 500 varieties of roses.   My dad was a big fan of rose bushes and always had several plants in the yard when I was growing up.  The views from the test garden are spectacular as well.

These two stops were just chosen because we were stuck in traffic.  A great alternative to sitting in traffic, right?
I love this view of Portland,
with Mount Hood in the background.



Have you been to these two gardens? Are you a regular visitor?  Do you search for an oasis of calm during your urban adventures?  When traveling to you try to visit the highest point in the area to snap a great picture of the area?

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

PNW Roadtrip: Oregon Coast Drive: Tillamook, Cannon Beach, Seaside

After Lil Sambo's for pancakes, we leave Lincoln City heading north, with our ultimate goal of reaching Portland before dinner time.  We continued up Highway 101 snaking along the coast line with plans to stop in Tillamook (yes, to see the cheese factory) then work our way up to Cannon Beach then to Seaside.

Traffic was light and it took us about an hour to get to Tillamook.  If you aren't familiar with Tillamook Cheese, you are missing out. I, of course, never had visited this place before, despite the fact that I grew up a mere 50 miles from it.  Had to check it off my list while we were here though.

The tour...well, really isn't a tour. There are some posters lining the walls telling the history, some huge windows looking out onto the factory floor, a queue to sample 6 difference cheddar cheese flavors (FYI, don't try the garlic chili pepper cheese - it is a bit overpowering and really stays with you for the rest of the day.

The factory also has a small restaurant where you can get burgers and grilled cheese (of course) and an ice cream shop. Yes, we did sample some Tillamook ice cream. I took the most logical route and had a sampling of 5 different flavors, while MS stuck to the Marionberry Pie flavor.  

This tour is something you just have to do if you live in the area or are driving through. We spent no more than 30 minutes on site and the "tour" itself was free.  Go and do it.



After leaving the factory we continue north on Highway 101 making our way to Cannon Beach.  There are some beautiful homes along the water front. The families of several college friends have homes in Cannon Beach -- which is just about an hour and a half from Portland, making it a nice weekend getaway.  I didn't have anything I wanted to see in Canon Beach other than the ocean, the beach and to show Mike Haystack Rock - which is the view of the Oregon coast most people think of. Plus, Haystack Rock plays an integral part in the movie The Goonies.

The drive along the coast is quite beautiful.  The pictures might look like we were there in late fall or winter, but no, it was the first week of August. You have to love the Oregon Coast in the summer.









You can tell it is summer because
MS isn't wearing a hat or gloves.
Our trek continues to Seaside, again, where we didn't have anything in particular to see. We wanted to make a stop someplace, get out, stretch our legs and see if anything caught our eye. Seaside has a quaint little shopping strip with a carousel at one end and the ocean on the other end.  We walked, bought some chocolate, watched the carousel, walked to the beach and watched some teens play beach volleyball, while Christian music blared from large speakers brought to the beach.  I'll see if I can upload a video of that for you all!

After spending about 45 minutes in Seaside, we got back into the rented Subaru and began working our way to Portland.  The trip from Seaside to the City takes about an hour and a half, but based on our timing, we'd be arriving in Portland right during rush hour, so as we made it into the City limits, I made an executive decision and had us pull off and visit the Japanese Gardens and the International Rose Test Garden.  More on that in our next installment.

Are you drawn to the water? Do you love the beach/coast?  Does the sight of Haystack Rock want you to gather 5 of your closest friends and set out on an adventure to save your neighborhood?  When traveling do you change your route so you can visit a cheese factory?

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Monday, August 27, 2012

PNW Roadtrip: Lil Sambo's: Lincoln City, OR

Growing up, we would always stop at a breakfast place right along Highway 101 in Lincoln City. When I was a kid, the restaurant was called Little Black Sambo's.  This was taken from the Helen Bannerman's book about an Indian boy who was given new clothes then while walking through the jungle was basically mugged by four separate tigers who stole his clothes.  The tigers eventually fought each other and after running around a tree, the tigers turned into butter (for some reason).  Little Black Sambo's mother then made pancakes for the family with the butter. Little Black Sambo did get his clothes back too. You can read the book here.

Of course the restaurant, currently called "Lil Sambo's" use to be called Little Black Sambo's. Not surprisingly, it's a breakfast joint that serves pancakes. I would love coming here as a child, so our final day in Lincoln City we had to stop.

The original restaurant burned to the ground in the early 2000s but was rebuilt on the same footings. This is really a local restaurant. Like in most small towns in America there was a group of senior citizens sitting in a couple booths, nursing cups of coffee and telling tales everyone at the table had heard before.

The walls (both inside and outside) are adorned with brightly colored wooden cut outs from the Little Black Sambo story - although some of these tigers seem much less menacing than the ones from the book.




We, of course, ordered pancakes and bacon for breakfast. I thought about getting the children's order of 3, but instead got the regular order - 6.  Way too many pancakes -- but they were pretty damn good.  They weren't fancy, the pancakes were just good, well made, perfectly browned cakes, served with warm syrup. Plain. Simple. Good.  You could also get local berries added to your pancakes (blueberries, Marion Berries, Black Berries, Strawberries, etc).




Is this a destination? No, not at all. If you are in or around Lincoln City and you want a reasonably priced breakfast with efficient service, tasty well prepared food with a hint of underlying racism, you must visit.  I temper my last comment by saying again that this restaurant is based off of the children's book (which I had a real copy of as a child) - not any lingering racial issues.  Although it is interesting that they dropped the descriptor "Black" at some point in it's recent past.  

If I am in Lincoln City around breakfast time again, I will require that we stop here and have an enormous plate of pancakes -- and you should too.

What is your favorite breakfast place in Lincoln City? Are you familiar with this book?  Have you ever stumbled across a restaurant based on an obscure book from your childhood and just had to stop by and see what it's about?

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

PNW Roadtrip: Kyllo's Seafood Grill: Lincoln City, OR

Pizza for dinner in a coastal town in Oregon? Well that's what the receptionist at the Coho Lodge suggested, although she had never been to, nor heard anything about the new pizza place in town. We opted to check TripAdvisor and find a good seafood place in Lincoln City. We ran into a problem because most places were closed on a Tuesday night.

We finally settled on Kyllo's Seafood Grill. Kyllo's is a big restaurant right off of Highway 101, just a few blocks from our hotel.  A common theme of this trip was our GPS not really giving us the best directions. We drove from one side of Lincoln City to the other trying to find this place (we will take some blame for this too).


The menu was of decent size with a good selection of seafood, chicken and sandwiches.  While I am not a big seafood guy, I did push myself to try new seafood each and every day.

Since we were on vacation we often decided to have appetizers, an entrees and desserts.  Oink, indeed.  The appetizer I chose was the Fresh Dungeness Crab Cocktail. Along with the cocktail sauce, there was a squirt (ew) of Oregon wasabi too. The crab was great and the addition of wasabi to the cocktail sauce was fantastic!  Unfortunately, I had to share with MS -- I could have eaten a couple of these too (even though we had crab cocktail just a couple hours earlier at Gracie's).


Crab Cocktail with Oregon Wasabi
MS had never been to the Oregon coast and everyone we talked to said we had to get claim chowder.  Again, I'm not a big seafood guy and I'm even less a fan of chowder.  I did decide to try Kyllo's clam chowder.  This was by far the most disappointing part of the dinner. Honestly, I'm not sure if it is because I don't like clam chowder, or if it just sucked.

Eh, clam chowder....
For dinner, I chose the Hal Mac, which the menu describes as crispy crust fresh halibut (Hal) - macadamia nuts (Mac) - diced tomatoes, melted Parmesan, mashed potatoes - sherry basil clam sauce.  It was served with a bread stick and two pieces of asparagus. The idea of this was great -- but it wasn't really executed that well. It really didn't have much flavor. Pretty shocking, considering the component ingredients, right? It really needed a lot of salt and pepper to bring the flavor profile up.  It was a little disappointing.  I would try this again if I were at Kyllo's though.  For some reason, I think this might have just been off the night we were there...



Do you have a favorite restaurant in Lincoln City?  Are you not really a fan of seafood, but have been trying new things lately? What is your favorite seafood option?  Do you love wasabi as much as I do?

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

PNW Roadtrip: The Coho Lodge: Lincoln City, OR

Lincoln City, Oregon is a coastal town without major chain hotels. Yes, you can find a chain like a Best Western without a problem, but no Marriotts, Starwoods or Hiltons.  We opted, instead to find a nice independent hotel through Google and Booking.com.  We stumbled across The Coho Lodge, which looks like a motel on the ocean.  Definitely a motel (v. hotel), but it had pretty good reviews online and the price was right, so we booked it.

The GPS had no problem finding this place either, unlike the lodge near Crater Lake, of course. We arrived around 18h30 and the lobby was packed with other guests.  Most people were looking at the movie rental book, the lodge/motel has a large three ring binder listing DVDs that are available to borrow while you are staying.  Interesting idea -- but not something I would do. If I'm on vacation, I don't want to sit around and watch movies in the room. Probably a good idea for people with kids though.

One couple was ahead of us to check in.  The front desk clerk was very skittish -- she was one of those people if you yell "BOO" she would probably yelp and maybe cry.  I didn't yell "BOO".  The check in process was thorough...a little too thorough. It took the couple in front of us about 15 minutes to get their keys.  The clerk explained (in excruciating detail) where to find your room, where to park, how the movie rental system worked (find a title in the book and tell the clerk the corresponding number...not rocket science), where the pool was, when the included breakfast started and what was there (pancakes, fruit, waffles....blah, blah, blah), how the ocean front fire pits work.

Once this couple was finished checking in, it was our turn.  The clerk asked if we heard the check in speech, which we had. She laughed and said "Oh good, this will be fast then!", she then proceed to tell us the exact same thing she told the prior couple. The 15 minute check in lecture begins.

Since I didn't have enough time listening to this nice, but verbose woman speak, I asked for recommendations for dinner. She was almost at a loss.  Her number one recommendation (in an ocean front town surrounded by fishing boats) was to go to a new pizza place that she'd never been to or heard a review of.  Hmmm, not the best, eh?  

The clerk was also excited that we were given the room we were. She said we'll really like it because it will be quiet. It will be quiet she further explained because they NEVER let kids or dogs stay in the room. Hmmm, how would the fact that previous guests not being allowed to have kids or dogs in that room make it quieter for us.  As long as they aren't still in the room, it shouldn't matter.  I just don't follow.

Now to the room.  It was very huge, clean and HOT.  The room had a nice king bed and a seating area near the large sliding doors. Outside of the sliders was a small seating area overlooking the ocean.  Just below our seating area was the fire pits (which we got very detail instructions on how to use).





The room had a TV and a DVD player, which is probably why the in house video rental was so popular. A mini fridge, sink and coffee pot were in the corner as well.  In the far corner of the room there was a fireplace - which was putting out an enormous amount of heat - even with just the pilot light on. We had to open up both the front door and the sliders to get a cross breeze and drop the temperature to be a bit more manageable.





The bathroom was large with a separate tub and shower. There was ample hot water and the water pressure was pretty good.  The bathroom also had shutters that opened the room into the living area. I don't like this, I think the bathroom should be private and sealed off. I understand people might want to have a view of the ocean or hell, even the TV from the tub, but other things go on in the bathroom and a shutter doesn't provide proper privacy in my mind.












This room did have two of my hotel pet peeves though: No power outlets at the nightstands and a stained/dirty duvet cover. We had to plug our phones in across the room (not a major issue, just a slight annoyance). The duvet looked like it had a grease stain - not as gross as the blood/nail polish stain at the Westin, Alexandria Virginia. All in all, definitely something we could live with.



The real question: Would we stay here again?  Absolutely. The rate was good, the room was pretty nice and the sunset views were amazing.  We can look past my hotel pet peeves and the shutters in the bathroom and would stay here again.

When you visit Lincoln City, where do you stay?  Do you have a list of hotel pet peeves that you often run into when traveling?  Are you as surprised as I am at how often you see stained duvets and bed skirts?  How often to you borrow movies from the hotel when on vacation?

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