PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Eden Dawn and Ashod Simonian say planning dates for each other is their love language. So who better to ask for Valentine’s Day tips than the couple who recently wrote and illustrated a book all about dating in and around Portland?
Dawn and Simonian’s book, titled ‘The Portland Book of Dates’, came out in 2021 and the couple said they couldn’t believe the success they had in the first year. They said it was “selling like hot cakes” and was on the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s bestseller list and was a longtime bestseller at Powell’s City of Books.
They have readers everywhere, from Alberta Street in Portland to Argentina. Dawn was worried the pandemic would hurt the book’s popularity, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“It’s even better because everyone really craves connection and finds ways to find fun and joy in all the tough times,” she said.
Dawn, a former journalist, and Simonian, an illustrator, pooled their skills to bring the book to life. However, they said the groundwork for the book was laid long before they put pen to paper. Their own dating experiences served as inspiration and made them want to create a dating directory, of sorts, for other people.
“I got the idea because we had been out together, just enjoying the river at one point and I was like, ‘Why doesn’t a book like this exist? And we started talking about it. I was like, ‘You have the writing chops and I have the illustrations,'” Simonian said. “Our friends already knew us as people who went on adventures and asked us for directions.”
Simonian and Dawn have been married for almost five years and have been a couple for nine. When they dated, they knew they both liked spontaneity and would find fun things to do to impress the other person. Over the years they made a commitment to each other that they would strive to go on adventures together, it would always be a priority.
Sometimes it’s a big road trip to Washington, other times it’s a short walk to the new neighborhood wine bar, but the couple said they always deliver on their promise to have fun together.
“We’re not big giveaway people,” Dawn said. “We’re really good at saying, ‘I’ve planned a surprise weekend for us and I’m having a lot of fun and we’re going rafting and then we’re going to do this!’ That’s how we say we love each other.”
The couple said they consider themselves experts when it comes to fun things to do, so KOIN 6 News asked them which date ideas from their book they would recommend for Valentine’s Day.
Dawn said for anyone suffering from seasonal depression, a getaway to the Oregon Coast on a sunny day might be the best date. While Valentine’s Day Monday is expected to be rainy on the coast, the previous Friday and Saturday are clear and sunny days. Dawn said she and Simonian enjoy hunting Oregon beach agates on Agate Beach or going a bit further north to the Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area. They will bring a picnic and spend the day walking, searching the beach and bird watching.
“We really don’t think dating should be expensive. A lot of our favorite dates are like having a picnic, sitting outside somewhere, enjoying it,” Dawn said.
Simonian’s Valentine’s Day date recommendation is also inexpensive. He said they enjoy Sunday rides together (although the drive can be any day of the week) and a trip to Aurora is a nice little country road. He and Dawn enjoy visiting small town antique shops and finding oddities together.
“We often buy trinkets on our adventures just to remind ourselves of those places,” he said.
KOIN News asked for a date idea that isn’t in the book and the two said they had just visited a new wine bar on Northeast Alberta Street and really enjoyed it. They said it was called Les Clos and it was hidden in the street. They said it was a covered outdoor space and they curled up under a heater together and enjoyed their glasses of wine.
Dawn and Simonian said that despite their abundance of date ideas, they hoped to keep it simple for Valentine’s Day. They said they often stayed at home, took turns cooking, lighting a fire in their hearth and enjoying good wine.
Dawn said sometimes a date is as simple as setting aside time to turn off your phone and take a walk with your significant other.
“It’s really like, ‘I’m planning this time for you. We’re going to get into some kind of scheme. I don’t know what they are, and we’ll go from there,'” she said.
Here are some additional date ideas from the KOIN 6 News team:
Book a private helicopter flight with your Valentine through Oregon Helicopters. The company offers a Valentine’s Day experience that includes a private tour for two, professional photography with an on-site photographer, a dozen roses, champagne and a box of locally made chocolates.
Enjoy a tasty date with heart-shaped tacos. Both Birria Portland Mexican Food and Fabo’s Tacos offer special dishes to serve up the love for Valentine’s Day.
Grab a sandwich in downtown Portland and enjoy it while strolling through Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Grab a few friends and head to Restaurant Marrakech in northeast Portland for a unique dining experience. You can gather around a table on poufs and enjoy several hot dishes. From Wednesday to Sunday there is belly dancing entertainment for the guests.
If you don’t want to go out for dinner, you can always have your dinner! It’s crabbing season on the Oregon Coast. You can go out, rent traps, bait them, and hope you get lucky.
If braving the elements isn’t your idea of a fun Valentine’s date, then mini golf might be for you. Glowing Greens and Birdie Time Pub and Mini Golf are the two options to have a good time.
You can also sit down and enjoy a good drink, alone or with a date, at the Pope House Bourbon Lounge or the Multnomah Whiskey Library.