Three Weeks in Downtown Portland, Oregon
We sit on the basement “balcony” of our rented condo. Our heads barely above sea level, we have a great view of the Willamette River.
Trains and draw bridges provide entertainment, along with a constant flow of bicyclists, pedestrians, and runners (don’t call them joggers) who cannot help to make eye contact with us as they turn a corner along the Portland River Walk.
Good thing that Jack cannot see anything from this basement balcony, as he would constantly bark. After a run-in with a loud train horn, he refuses to go on the river walk, not even for a swim.
I enjoy the high pitch tuning fork tone of steel on steel train wheels. It feels like I’m back in my hometown of Mingo Junction, Ohio. Only the city of Pittsburgh boasts more bridges than Portland, Oregon.
We’re searching for the “beat” of this city, other than the prevailing motto of “Keep Portland Weird.” Many folks bicycle to work, but that’s not terribly weird. Countless dog-friendly street side cafes serve organic food, and mass transit rules, but what’s so weird about that?
We walk at least six miles daily (walk with your head on a swivel on account of the speeding bicyclists along the river and on the bridges), stopping only to eat meals and drink micro-brews. Although upscale restaurants are fantastic and casual, the permanent food carts are my favorite. The carts surround several city blocks and food ranges from Thai to Hawaiian, as well as new creations. Try the grilled cheese, filled with brie and sliced tomato.
Everyone seems nice. The “genuine homeless” and even the “youthful summer homeless” are polite, perhaps because of the many services of food and housing available. Vehicles stop for pedestrians. Stand on the corner by a crosswalk, and traffic will come to a halt until you cross the street. This is probably the weirdest thing of all.
The eternal long line at Voodoo Donuts appears a little strange, but those are mostly tourists. I like the chocolate and peanut butter creation. Mare prefers the maple bar topped with crisp bacon.
Many folks claim that Portland is the strip club capital of the US. We wonder if Portland might be the tattoo and skin piercing capital. According to “Google” the tattoo crown belongs to Miami. Even so, I’ve never seen so many young women with sleeves (arms covered in ink). Either way, the “tough guy” stereotype does not apply. They are too nice to look so rugged.
It’s weird that most people in such a large city go out of their way to treat each other respectfully. Perhaps that’s what they mean by “Keep Portland Weird.” Ron Mitchell