Portland

Note from 2015: This was originally a page about Portland on the 12 Cities, 1 Year website, which no longer exists. All the pages and posts from 12 Cities, 1 Year, can be found on this site or on Todd Bradley’s Galaxy. See the main 12 Cities post for more information. You can also search for Portland posts.

Things people said about Portland

My stylist at Gilly’s Salon said of the SE neighborhood where we’re staying, “It got hip quick.” Now she wishes she’d bought a house there.

Angela, whom I met at Project Grow, said she couldn’t wait to come back after she finished college on the East Coast. She said people in Portland cared about each other and the environment.

Things we’ve noticed about Portland

Hordes of cyclists! The most I’ve seen anywhere.

Portland is variously called Rose City, River City, Bridgetown, and Stumptown.

Portland is much more mellow and somewhat cheaper than Seattle.

Portland has lots of residential areas sprinkled with little corners containing retail and restaurants and coffee shops. We’re about 5 blocks from 2 or 3 of those corners. Powell, the main street south of us, has mostly light industrial, but Clinton and Division both have some interesting areas.

Many of the yards in our neighborhood have xeriscape plantings. It’s a higher percentage than what Beth saw in Seattle or Missoula.

As far as Beth can tell, there are no mailboxes downtown. Or anywhere, for that matter. Update: There are a few mailboxes downtown. One is right by the Portland Art Museum, and there’s one outside the post office, which is so helpful.

Portland’s downtown has two tall buildings on either end, but most of the buildings are not that tall. There is a nondescript series of glass high-rises south of the Ross Island Bridge, which is near our rental. Beth noticed a lot of beautiful detail on the old buildings downtown.

Portland has a reputation for having a lot of homeless youth. They like to hang out by Voodoo Doughnut and set up beds in doorways downtown. Other groups of homeless people take their shopping carts to Powell City Park and to a wide grassy area by the Mt. Scott Rec Center.

There are at least 3 art nights: First Thursday in downtown Portland, First Friday in NE Portland, and Last Thursday on Alberta. Beth got confused and thought First Friday was downtown, but when she figured it out, she decided she and Todd should just go to the Portland Art Museum to view its amazing collection of Japanese prints.

Things we did in Portland:

  • Shopped at the People’s Co-op, which is really close to our house.
  • Found the food carts and had lunch at some of them.
  • Visited Powell’s City of Books on two occasions.
  • Saw the Rose City Rollers’ famous practice and bout facility, The Hangar!
  • Worked out at 3 different rec centers, since we couldn’t afford the Green Microgym. We worked out at the East Portland Community Center and Matt Dishman. The rec center closest to us, Mt. Scott, was closed for cleaning until October 1. It has a rowing machine, which makes Beth happy.
  • Beth went to Voodoo Doughnuts and brought Todd home a Dirty Old Bastard (raised donut, peanut butter, Oreos, and chocolate sauce). She wasn’t willing to stand in the ridiculous line at 1:30 on Saturday afternoon but found the line to be much shorter at 7:30 on a Saturday night. Since then, we gone back a couple of times.
  • Beth took the bus and light rail to Washington Park, walked the Wildwood Trail in Hoyt Arboretum, got lost and was redirected by a kind hiker, visited the visitors center, toured the Japanese garden (spectacular!), and whizzed through the rose test garden. She likes roses but gets bored by rose gardens. They’re always so square. Maybe someone should do a rose garden in the style of a Japanese garden.
  • Beth did some volunteer work at Project Grow, as a way of following Todd’s suggestion that she get some experience in urban gardening instead of just writing about other people who do it. It was a wonderful place, and she wishes her brother had a similar place to go in Kansas City.
  • Beth went to Wordstock, the Pacific Northwest’s largest literary festival, and saw Ursula Leguin, Bharati Mukherjee, Ismet Prcic, Michael Ondaatje, Barry Lopez, Kerry Cohen (author of Loose Girls), and local poets Jennifer Richter, Zach Schomberg, and David Biespiel.
  • Todd spent a weekend at the Bridgetown Brawl, and Beth showed up for 3 bouts. Unfortunately, the Denver Roller Dolls lost their Friday bout to the Rat City Rollers from Seattle, so they won’t be competing in the finals. The final three teams going to the nationals in Denver are the Oly Rollers, the Rose City Rollers, and the Rocky Mountain Roller Girls. It’s the first visit to the nationals for Portland’s Rose City Rollers.
  • Walked along the Willamette River from Clay Street to the Burnside Bridge. There weren’t a lot of birds, but it was still a nice walk. The river through that part of Portland is quite hemmed in.
  • Did a quick tour of the Portland Art Museum, and now know way more about Japanese woodcut printing and kabuki than ever before.
  • Tried to participate in the Oregon Days of Culture, but mostly just went to Wordstock events.
  • Took a day trip to Multnomah Falls, Hood River, and the Fruit Loop. Todd sampled 16 wines from 3 wineries. Beth had even more.

Comments from the original page on 12 Cities, 1 Year:

  1. Cindy Mione: Beth, My husband and I just got back from Portland, in fact we arrived on the 21st of September. We took Public Transportation for 5 days and/or walked the whole time. We loved the city and our adventure. I told my husband last night that I would love to sell our house and most of our belongings and travel to 12 cities in the US, staying in each city for a month. This morning I googled it and here came your story. I am amazed to hear your story just as I had dreamed of a lifetime adventure. Good luck on your travels, I am very passionate about taking the venture next year, starting in July 2012. I will follow your blog. Good Luck!!! Are you still enjoying your time away?
  2. Todd: Sounds like your idea is very similar to ours! I wouldn’t really say we’re having any “time away.” That makes it sound like we’re going back someday, and that’s not part of the plan. Our concept of “home” has changed to be wherever we’re staying each month. Are we enjoying this lifestyle? So far we are. It has pros and cons, of course, as you probably gathered from reading the blog. But we are having fun being out of our comfort zone much of the time.