Portland is a Hoppy Place

My friend Jane said it best.  “Portland is probably best known for its food and its beer!”IMG_1170

Having now visited all three of the “weird” cities, that is, those cities who have adopted the marketing slogan of “Keep XXX Weird,” – Asheville, Austin, and Portland, it’s interesting to ponder how a movement like this gets started.  It’s hard to say what constitutes “weird” when defining a city.  For Asheville, it seems to center around their aging hippie/boomer population that gathers every Friday night from April through October for the giant, en masse rhythmic drumming circle.   For Austin, just being a blue Democratic island floating amidst our largest bleeding red Republican sea in the “lower 48” makes it seem weird to some.  But as for Portland?   It’s too weird to even care about the marketing slogan.IMG_1171IMG_1189

There are so many things I love about this city.   Like how they don’t shy away from their homeless population.  Instead of looking past them like they don’t exist, they hold a Thursday night community service to feed and clothe the hungry.  There are volunteers staffing makeshift barber shops, sewing machines, and washing stations to help the less fortunate.IMG_1389 IMG_1358

IMG_1373Known as the “Bike-friendliest city in the nation,” I love how Portland mandates that bicyclists crossing the highways have the right of way.  In fact, a flashing light stops opposing traffic so bicyclers can cross safely.  There seem to be bike paths on most roads, and those without a path emphasize a “share the road” policy.IMG_1370

IMG_1342The town has not one but TWO rivers – the Columbia and the Willamette (pronounced “Will-AAAMM-et.”  There was a weekend Blues Festival going on while there.  It was amusing to watch the draw bridges open and close as the barge “barged” its way through all the pleasure boats, blasting its five-horn blast, “GET OUT OF MY WAY!”IMG_1378

Note center of "draw bridge" raises up to allow gravel barge to barge through pleasure boats at Blues Fest

Note center of “draw bridge” raises up to allow gravel barge to barge through pleasure boats at Blues Fest


Portland also has a great “Food Pod” scene.  Though maybe not as inventive as Austin’s East Side Kings, they still offer a fresh, healthy alternative to fast food.    And one step above the food truck seems to be the trend of ordering at the counter and having your food brought to you, as opposed to sit-down wait service.  Cheaper, faster, and so sensible.IMG_1287

Lobster Roll from Maine Lobster food truck.

Lobster Roll from Maine Lobster food truck.

IMG_1173I often use Trip Advisor to find the top attractions or restaurants in a city I am visiting.  It took me by surprise to find the number one restaurant in a “foodie” town like Portland was an ice cream shop!   Salt and Straw is another place with a waiting line, this time half an hour to taste bizarre but oh-so scrumptious flavors like “Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper.”    It tastes as good as it sounds strange!  But my far, my favorite was the Pear and Blue Cheese – described as “The delicate, sweet flavor of Oregon Trail Northwest Bartlett Pears from Salem, OR with perfectly aged crumbles of Rogue Creamery’s Crater Lake Blue Cheese (recently named the best in the world at a fancy competition in France) mixed throughout.”  As a serious lover of blue cheese, I am not exaggerating when I say this was the best ice cream I have ever eaten.   You just can’t imagine the salty, savory, sweet creamy cheese bits enveloping those crunchy frozen pears.  And the best part?   If you buy a whole pint, you don’t have to wait in line.  😉IMG_1433 IMG_1367And BUGS??  What happened to all the bugs?   I have seen only one spider in two weeks, and that was it for bugs.  What a treat it is to sit outside and enjoy a nice dinner without feeling like a mosquito’s dinner at the same time!

“Reuse, Reduce, Recycle” is prevalent everywhere!  After seeing so much plastic refuse during my travels overseas, to include an entire shoreline of blue plastic water bottles, I really have a thing about plastic.  I won’t throw it in the garbage, even if it means hauling around to the next recycle location.    Sometimes, I can accumulate the entire back seat of the Tracker full of plastic bottles.  But in Portland, I was never far from a recycle bin.   And I love the whole “Life without Plastic” campaign that is evolving, whereby restaurants are using cardboard cartons for take-out.

Stainless Steel water dispenser and glasses inscribed with "Life without Plastic" URL.

Stainless Steel water dispenser and glasses inscribed with “Life without Plastic” URL.


"Manifesting wool blankets and natural fiber pants."

“Manifesting wool blankets and natural fiber pants.”

And finally, music is everywhere!   Restaurants, brew pubs, garden and farm venues, coffee shops.  On any given night of the week, it is possible to find a small local band offering up their own brand of unique tunes, from street side musicians to big name artists playing at small, intimate venues.IMG_1181 IMG_1415 IMG_1385

It may be a big city, but it is still possible to find that eclectic, neighborhood feel.  Yep, weird or not, Portland is still a Hoppy Place!IMG_1169 IMG_1172

9 thoughts on “Portland is a Hoppy Place

  1. You nailed it! I fell hard for Portland too. Never seen another big city like it. Love the eerie quiet of downtown and being able to ride the rails all day for $2. And no one checks your ticket. The whole city is ‘like ….. whatever’.

  2. Wow! Once again you’ve put together an amazing post full of great pictures! That yellow bike left me full of questions and a rare desire for a video, especially the start & stop process.

  3. You should wander down to Eugene for a similar experience. It’s an “Only in Eugene” kind of place with a slight difference to the Portland vibe.

  4. love Oregon period … and lived in Portland in the late 70’s … I actually left. blast it.

    Crater Lake Blue Cheese ice cream? no way … o … m … g

    gorgeous pictures and narration … I’m trying to stay okay with you’re being there and I’m not. I’ll go hug Adelle and Charlie … yes, that’s what I’ll do… 😉

  5. Peach and blue cheese Ice cream!? I have been wanting to return to Portland for all the wrong reasons! Now I know why it is back in the top five on the bucket list and I shall buy a pint as I HATE standing in line.
    Once again you have exceeded…

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