Saturday, June 26, 2010

Impressions of Portland

Portland, Oregon.
There was a member of the team (Miss Marilyn) a few years ago from Portland; she was cool and kinda laid back, sorta hippie without being too crunchy.
I really liked her.
Francie had mentioned that after moving to Portland she was going to change the name of her blog to Francie in the Land of Lumberjacks and Hippies.
Those are the only 2 impressions i had about Portland.
I had no idea what to expect.
I found a nice sized city bordered by mountains, water and huge trees.
It was lovely.
There was a sense that everything was big, big, big.
Like Portlandia here, who is the 2nd largest hammered copper statue in America;
  kneeling at 38 ft,
she would be 50 ft tall if she could stand up.
 Of course, if a giant copper statue a top a downtown building were to stand up i don't think even i would stop to take a picture. [btw, my picture was taken at night and sucked so this pic was found on Flickr, by Dena]
 There were a lot of major manufacturers in and around Portland,
like Adidas.
The city seemed bustling with life and art. I didn't have a chance to take a lot of pictures because of my wedding responsibilities so i really want to go back and shoot the vast amount of public art.
Driving in the city was interesting as it was obvious that city planners really didn't want you to drive. There was a well defined bike lane all through the downtown area, as well as a lane designated for mass transit. If i were staying in a hotel downtown, i probably wouldn't need a car.
 Interestingly, there were a lot of street people out at night, but unlike the ragged homeless and desperate youth you see in most major cities, many of them appeared to be in their 20s and toting guitars along with the obligatory bag of clothes. Not sure what to make of that, just noticed it.
 For a big city, Portland also had several parks and arboretums and flora showcases. I wanted to go to the Japanese and/or the Chinese gardens, but i opted
for a grotto instead.
The city did remind me of Baltimore a little cause it was a port city and it was the crossroads of several major interstates.
Also, it isn't far away from the state border.
I drove into Washington state while i was exploring and though it didn't count as a new state, i'm glad i did since i discovered my new favorite state route symbol
  I'm sure he's very proud.
One thing that was vastly different from home was the presence of 2 large mountain peaks around the city. I could see Mt St Helens towards the northwest, but was never able to get a good picture of it.
 But Mt Hood -the highest point in Oregon- dominated the view to the east-ish. I wanted to get a good picture of it, so i started driving towards it, hoping for a nice clearing in the trees. I didn't really realize how far away it was from town because it was so big and obvious on the horizon; i inadvertently drove almost an hour away even though i had dinner reservations. It was worth the trip, though.
I did notice that drivers on the highways around Portland were very different from home. I don't know if it was specifically that city or a West Coast mentality, but dang did they drive slowly. I support lawfulness and all, but people were going the speed limit in 3 of the 4 lanes on the interstate. If you drive 55 in the third lane around home, someone might ram you.
One thing about the slower journey is that it gave me plenty of time to look around:

Yes, that is a naked, headless, limbless mannequin torso on top of that car.
Because the word that best describes Portland for me is quirky.
Speaking of, hey there, big fella;
nice bandanna.

 I like that he is big enough for a state's 100th birthday and that he originally looked over the Expo Center. Now, he overlooks a strip club. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
 While looking for Paul Bunyan and a giant loaf of bread (which i never found cause i was lured away by Mt Hood and then had to rush back to town for delicious Thai food with the bridal friends and family) i explored some of the industrial parts of town and found not only the moved Expo Center, but a racetrack and a dog track (i didn't even know those things existed outside of Florida anymore).
Just when i thought i had a feel for the flavor of the city, i went around a corner and discover wetlands.
 Beautiful, but random.
Portland kept surprising me with its mixture of industrial, natural, artistic, eco-friendly, watery, mountainous, foresty, modern, and historic.
Quirky, people. Quirky.
Plus there was the added bonus of seeing my first giant redwood.
  I can't wait to go back.

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