Tourist Guide: Don Miller Story Conference

I have a confession to make  — I’m a Brownie drop-out. It’s true. Not one of my more shining moments of life, it ranks right up there with the time I got caught stealing blue eye-shadow from the local five-and-dime. Blue eye-shadow.

It’s humiliating to admit that I’m a quitter but that’s the truth of the matter. I went to two meetings in 4th-grade and never returned. It had something to do with the uniform. There is something about my genetic disposition or my redneck upbringing that makes me balk at conformity. (Maybe it was my fear of ending up in jail wearing an orange jumpsuit).


Brownies broke me for good, ever since, I’ve never been much of a joiner. I’m a terrible club member. Junior League. Rotary. Purple Hat Society. Overeaters Anonymous. I avoid them all, which is funny, really, because I love a good cocktail party.

But put me at a literary event or on stage in front of an audience and I’m the total partee girl.

It took me some talking myself into it, given my aversion to cults and Brownies, but my love for a good cocktail party and need to laugh won out. I’m headed to the Don Miller Story Conference in Portland.

Portland is familiar territory to me. I’ve lived there. I’ve worked there. I’ve had babies there. I’ve signed books there. And even had a car wreck or two there. Nothing like an encounter with the police to make  a person feel welcome… or not.

But there are like a gazillion people flying in from all over Kingdom Come for this event — people who don’t know the local police, or even the local hangouts.  So being the partee girl I am, I recommend the following musts for those who find time to explore. You’ll note that most of my recommendations have to do with food — refer back to the Overeaters Anonymous remark above:

Pine State Biscuits. Found out about this place from my buddy John Cole. Love it.

Voodoo Donuts. The maple bar with bacon bits is the one everyone raves about.

Saint Cupcake. Where else should a bunch of Christians go?

-You know about Powell’s Books already. I love Annie Bloom’s. Find Will and tell him I sent you.

– Best place for people-watching is Pioneer Square. Promise. And there’s a Starbucks on site.

– While you’re downtown, pop into Nordstroms or Meier & Frank — born in the Northwest.

– Saturday Market in Portland is always the best. The conference doesn’t start until Sunday, so why not?

– If you’re a runner, take the waterfront path along the Willamette River. (pronounced Will-Lamb-Met).

– My favorite hotel downtown, other than  The Benson, is Hotel DeLuxe. It’s a classic.

– There’s looky-see shopping in The Pearl and check out the hood around 23rd.

-If you can make the time, head over to the Oregon Coast. A couple of hours and you’ll have your feet in the Pacific. It’s probably worth missing one of the sessions.

– If you don’t have time for any of these, do not miss the chance to see the city at night. I’ve traveled a lot and Portland is one of the most beautiful cities ever at night.

Y’all feel free to chime in with your favorites. Just consider this our own little Brownie group, no uniforms required. And if you’re going and want to meet F2F contact me via Twitter @karenzach.

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  • If you don’t get coffee at Stumptown (3 locations, downtown on 3rd, and then the eastside (Belmont and also Division) you might as well not come.

    Also, the Saturday market I believe is also open Sunday.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Hey Tyler: Yeah I forgot to mention Stumptown but if folks eat at Pine State they can get Stumptown right up the street. And, yes, the Saturday Market is open on Sunday, but aren’t we supposed to be at the conference then?

  • John in PDX

    Get those tweets away. But I would still like to visit this weekend.

    Another restaurant you will like:
    The Screen Door
    If you trusted me about Pine State. Trust me on this one. Careful. The portions are generous. Bring Tim along.

    Sailing for the Cure this weekend. Let me know if we need to make room on the boat for you. I did last year for Connie but didn’t let Sandy know.

    This year will be for Ben’s mom. I am going to give him the pennant. I will pass on the donation site if you think anyone would want it.

    Maybe we will at least wave at each other this weekend.

    I take Jack to College on Thursday. I will miss him.

    Welcome back!


    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Hey John: Is that on Saturday? I might want to hitch a ride. Had breakfast at Pine State this morning with our son who was in town between Alaska and Virginia.

      • John in PDX

        That was my first reply.
        Here’s what I got:
        Your comment was a bit too short. Please go back and try again.
        Must be that ‘Let us Pray’ thing again.
        ‘I hope I am not a wee bit short’ John

  • Alas, Meier & Frank has for several years now been Macy’s. Something about a store full of goods made in China and a red star for a logo that kinda keeps me from entering. For a billiant change from Ubiquicoffee, visit the Tea Zone at 510 NW 11th. Say Hi to Grant and Janie. Have a fresh pot of Lapsang Souchong. The flavor and aroma are in a different universe from even the best coffee–which Starbuck’s hasn’t had for over 15 years. Funk and art? N Mississippi Ave. and NE Alberta Street.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Ahh..Roger…I think I knew that about Meier and Frank. Old brain lapse. Or nostalgia resurfacing? Thanks for the other tips.

  • Heather

    This is great! Big help for a Canuck headed into unknown territory. Can’t wait for the conference.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Heather: Hope you get a chance to enjoy Portland.

  • Thanks for all of the suggestions! I’m gonna try 3 of them…any excuse to eat a donut!

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Be prepared for a long wait at Voodoo. There is always a long line. I mean long.

  • Peg Willis

    That’s Wa LAM ut