Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Shelby Tour of Portland

Most travelers I know agree that the absolute best way to experience a new place is with a local.  For one thing, it saves you, the newbie, a lot of time usually wasted on figuring out logistical details like how to buy train tickets or where to park.  But the main wonderful thing about locals is that they know all the good secret spots.  They know the tourist spots too, and will tell you which ones are worth it, but then they can guide you into the real experience of wherever it is that you're visiting.

If you don't have a friendly local tour guide waiting anxiously for your arrival so they can show you all their favorite places, never fear.  There is still a second option-- a distance local tour guide!

Eh, you say?  What I mean by that is-- find a local who isn't there anymore and get them to tell you everything they know!  Or even better, if technology allows, text them constantly while you're in their old stomping grounds and they can guide you virtually.

This worked out beautifully for us when we visited Portland, Oregon.  Sure, we had brochures and we'd done some preparatory research on the interwebs.  But the key to our Portland experience was my phone, which connected me to my friend Shelby.  Shelby is a native Portlandian who now resides elsewhere in America because work made him move.  I emailed him before our trip and laid out the ground rules: one day in Portland.  He sent me some ideas, which was great, and of course as soon as we rolled into town, I started sending texts to say thanks for the suggestions and also to rub it in that we were in Portland and he wasn't.  Because we're friends like that.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The CZ Book Club: 2014 Part II

2014!  Where did you go?  How are you already nothing more than a memory??

Ah well, that means it's time for the second part of the 2014 CZ Book Club.  Prepare yourself for extreme randomness.