Having just returned from a five-day jaunt up the West Coast of North America, I present three findings:
- Every city needs an Ace Hotel. As some of my colleagues know, I hate snazzy hotels; they always seem so wasteful, so frothy, so (for lack of a word) huh-I-don’t-get-it-who-actually-likes-this. By contrast, the Ace Hotels (I’ve stayed in the New York and Portland editions) seem just perfectly calibrated to me: not too much space, not too much fuss, but plenty of attention paid to the details—and to the food.
- If you have the right temperament for it, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight route is a blast. You’ve definitely got to start down in LA, though. Get a private cabin. Read Steinbeck on the way up through Santa Barbara and Salinas. Go to sleep somewhere around Sacramento. Wake up at the California/Oregon interface, which, at least this time of year, looks basically like Narnia. Get off at Portland. And then…
- If you find yourself in Portland this winter, go to Cascade Brewing and get their glueh kriek, a piping-hot beer served from a steaming cauldron that feels exactly like the kind of thing a half-elf ranger would drink in a dark tavern somewhere just east of the Shire.