Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Portland's Great Conspiracy

Gina and I had a soon-to-expire $500 credit on Southwest Air and we desperately needed to take a little trip anyway, basically a long-weekend escape with no kids, no car pools, no chores, and no schedule beyond getting to the airport on time.

We chose downtown Portland (Oregon)--a nice city with great public transportation and generally a very cool vibe. No need for a car, and all we took were backpacks with some clothes and a few books. Simple. I got a room in the downtown Hilton through Priceline at a lower rate than some Motel 6's. (BTW, if you ever stay in big cities on weekends, you owe it to yourself to check out Priceline for bidding on rooms. You can get 3-star and 4-star hotels for dirt cheap, like $30 - $50 a night. Someday I'll do a detailed post about it.) Our only concern was the notoriously rainy weather we so often hear about.

OK, rather than give you a detailed and boring trip report, let me just say this: Portland rocks!! We had a great time. Maybe it's just because we're usually living life as middle-class suburbanites, but spending some time in a buzzing and hectic downtown environment was really fun. So much to do in such close proximity. They've done a great job of mixed-use urban design... living, shopping, and working are all together. As they like to say, Portland Works. I usually fantasize about moving to a more rural environment, like maybe a small mountain town, but after spending four days there, I'd reconsider city life in a place like Portland. Of course, we'd have to get fixies and single-speed bikes to fit in as a local!

What else...

You want to eat? Dozens of good restaurants and bakeries within a few blocks. Coffee? I lost count at about 20 places downtown ...and that's not including the ubiquitous $tarbuck$. You want stuff? Tons of shopping mixed in with all the high rises. Huge Powell's bookstore dwarfs your typical Border's or Barne's & Noble. It feels more like a library than a bookstore. Also a REI full of fun toys and clothes. We could have spent an entire day just at Powell's and REI. In fact, if you throw in the nearby Whole Foods Market, I don't think I'd ever need to visit another store!

Beautiful parks and wild areas are very close by. Our Portland-based friends the Erkers took us on a hike in Forest Park which is spectacularly green and lush, and has miles and miles of trails and gravel roads, which is a good thing because it seems all of Portland is into running and cyclocross! We also visited the Hoyt Arboretum which was only a five-minute MAX ride from downtown.

Ooops... I'm starting to give you that boring and detailed trip report that I promised not to. So let's just move on to some pics from my crappy phone camera...

Looking south from our room on the 16th floor of the Hilton Executive Tower building. I would have stuck the camera phone out the window for a shot straight down but I had an irrational fear of dropping it. Seriously.

The location of this place was perfect. One block from Pioneer Square and the MAX rail stop, and four blocks to the street car stop. You can ride all trains, trolleys, and buses in the downtown area for free.

Speaking of which, this is the light-rail train leaving Pioneer Square.

...and this is the street car heading up toward Northwest Portland, home to lots of restaurants and other fun stuff.

Yep, it's really autumn outside of SoCal. These trees are up in the hills west of downtown. Think about this: if you're a stressed-out, suit-&-tie-wearing cubicle worker and your day is sucking, then you just hop the train for a five-minute ride out to the forest and have a picnic lunch under the trees in solitude. You go back to work in a good mood.

When I saw this tree, I almost called the fire department 'cause it looked like it was on fire.

We saw our first-ever, live hockey game. Portland's team, The WinterHawks lost a close one 5-4. Hockey is crazy fast and confusing ...good thing we had a real Canadian with us to explain stuff! And yes, we got to see a fight too.

We would have loved to see a Trailblazers game but it's preseason and they were out of town anyway. Maybe next time.

So yeah, it was a fun weekend, and just what the doctor ordered. I'd highly recommend it for a quick getaway. Oh, and about the title of this post... it didn't rain a drop on us the entire weekend. It was mid-60s, clear, calm and beautiful. Obviously all the talk about Portland's rainy weather is just lies and propaganda designed to keep us Californians away from their paradise. Quite understandable actually. I won't tell...


Anonymous said...

Is that Oregon or Maine?

Marco Fanelli said...


Anonymous said...

Seriously, who could confuse the two Portlands? :-)

Welcome in on the conspiracy Marco.


Anonymous said...

These photos are obviously taken from somewhere else. It rained the whole time Marco and you know it. And the traffic...oh the traffic. Don't let this too small/too large, dirty, polluted and wet town fool you. It's a crap hole. And nothing is for sale here except 1.99 million dollar lofts over bowling alleys, which are underneath another bowling alley.


TnA said...

Hey Jake,
How's the weather been THIS week?

Just curious ;-)

Marco Fanelli said...

> And the traffic...oh the traffic.

I heard once there was a traffic jam in Portland. Oh wait, that was a bike traffic jam...

> 1.99 million dollar lofts over bowling alleys

I like bowling.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday...admittedly it did rain. We walked through the forest in our rain capes. No one melted so it was okay. Right now partly cloudy. Next week sun sun sun.

Oh I can confirm the bike traffic jam. I was in one last summer and Laura was jammed up on the Hawthorne Bridge another time.

I love this town


kweixel said...

Portland doesn't sound so good for cyclists after reading this article.