H-M and I left for Portland Friday morning, having secured through luck and Priceline the most Shabbas-friendly hotel imaginable. Each room in the hotel - Marriot's Residence Inn
- contains a small kitchen: full-size fridge, dishwasher, sink, toaster, microwave, stove-top, pots, pans, dishes, etc. Our room also had a dining table, already set with wine glasses.
Having prepared all the food in advance, we were able to take a long stroll along the waterfront before returning to our room for candlelighting. For my birthday, H-M gave me travel-sized Shabbat candlesticks that twist together and store in a little velvety blue pouch. These jostle in a brightly patterned sack along with a folded piece of foil (for any wax drippings), full-sized Shabbat candles, a small canister of salt, a book of matches, two benchers, two kippot, a little bag of spices, a havdallah candle, and a grape juice box. I've already taken my Shabbas sack on the go half a dozen times! This was the first time, though, that they graced a real table (as opposed to a campground picnic table) with real wine glasses and a real bottle of wine!
Naturally, after our long walk, we were ready for an early Shabbas schluff. A couple of restful hours later, we were ready to make kiddush. Having experienced my earlier efforts at baking challah, H-M was surprised to see two beautiful golden loaves underneath the napkin, and we were both surprised that they tasted lovely. Not quite as soft a crumb as I would have liked, but given that I used all-purpose rather than bread flour, that was not unexpected. The meal: a hearty tomato-bean soup, double-crusted escarole pizza, chickpea latkes, and wintry salad with apples, blue cheese, walnuts, red-onions, and a maple-mustard dressing was filling and tasty.
After dinner, we played games and - talk about day of rest! - soaked in the hotel's hot tub. Shabbat shalom!
The next day, after partaking of the enormous breakfast buffet, we walked to a downtown Reconstructionist synagogue, Havurah Shalom
. Services were nice, pretty similar to what I'm used to at my Conservative shul. I wasn't surprised that there was no musaf service, but I didn't expect that the Torah service would conclude without a haftorah and go straight to the aleinu. There was no kiddush lunch after services, and after watching people cluster with their friends over kiddie cups of Manischewitz and bites of bagel (ha-mezanot, apparently, due to the high sugar content), H-M and I departed for our walking tour.
H-M had researched a handful of Portland walking tours and selected the longest, most brutally uphill one because the synagogue was right on the way. So, we began our climb to Pittock Mansion
. At the top, we surveyed the sweeping view of the Cascades, framed in a cloudless blue sky. Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, and even Mount Rainier were clear and distinct, a chorus line of snow-capped beauties. We made a picnic of fruit and leftover escarole pie on a nearby bench overlooking the scene, which sounds cozy and picturesque but in reality involved huddling into coats and alternating which hand held food and which could be shielded from the biting cold and wind.
After lunch, I put on an extra pair of gloves, and we began our hike back to the hotel through Forest Park. We ambled through the outskirts of the Arboretum and wound through the spiral Vietnam Memorial and had a brief sojourn on the light rail (after a terrifying drop down the longest elevator shaft I've ever had the misfortune to experience) before returning to our room, shedding our coats, and making a beeline back to the hot tub. Ahhhhhhh.