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Archive for the ‘Portland’ Category

world’s largest

Spend any time at all on the American highway and you’ll see one: the world’s largest [fill in the blank].

The Frazee, Minnesota turkey. The Vergas, Minnesota loon. (Giant fowl are popular in MInnesota). The Medicine Hat Teepee in Alberta, Canada. The list is endless; their aficionados, legion.

If you have a very long Airstream you’ll have trouble turning it around—especially if other gawkers pull in behind you—at the site of Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow, who makes her home at the top of a steep hill in North Dakota.

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there’s no place like (a new) home

This month we started the bassackward process of relocating our belongings to Bend, Oregon, a three-plus hour drive from Portland.

Why Bend? It’s a fishin’ hikin’ skiin’ bikin’ town, all activities Ralph enjoys and I will, too when the right loaded firearm is pointed at my head. Compared to hipster Portland (“a city where young people go to retire,” as observed in Portlandia), Bend culture can best be described as “emerging”. But I love the pine smells, the clean high desert ambience and relative lack of traffic #inBend. The new house, set back from the street and far from the neighbors, is surrounded instead by wildlife and easterly views, and came with a pull through driveway and civilized gravel pad upon which to park the DWR.

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champoeg

Laura and Kevin, the Oregon couple I interviewed for Airstream Life (“The Technomads”, Winter, 2010), own a stomp-gorgeous 2010 27′ International. I dropped by to spend a splendid morning where they were glamped at Champoeg State Park only thirty miles from Portland, where the couple enjoys taking their writing work while they take in the view. (Sometimes they tow over to the coast, for a different scene from their picture window.)

Both hightech creatives, they’ve upgunned their rig with sleek silver and chocolate upholstery, and the tastiest of household conveniences (down to the ingenious key holder by the door, magnetic spice jars, and wine rack under the bed).

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toy museum

It’s hidden in plain sight on busy Grand Avenue in Portland in an unmarked, windowless, locked building. To gain entry you must knock, wait, and the door will be opened (when I visited, by a woman who returned to an unseen corner after speaking her only words: “Set your umbrella down—no, not there,” (the dirty worn carpet). “There.” (The dirty worn linoleum.)

The silent cramped foyer smells musty and is lined with display cases packed with shadowy objects. Enter the first brightly lit showroom on the left and be overwhelmed by cases and cases and cases of…toys.

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food carts of portland

When I first moved to Portland lo these many years ago, there was nothing to eat. A damning indictment, as I was fresh from San Diego where fish tacos and mud pie were as haute as one could go.

Now, you can’t open Sunset or the now-defunct Gourmet without reading an article breathlessly praising a Portland chef, or a gushy review of the culinary craze that’s been sweeping the area in recent years: the city food cart.

Until last Friday, I worked a stone’s throw from one of the main lunchwagon pods downtown but rarely visited, preferring instead to eat a piteous salad at my desk.

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ufo festival

I didn’t have directions to the 11th Annual UFO Festival but it was easy to find: I simply followed the highway signs to McMinnville, parked the car, and followed the crowd carrying lawn chairs and wearing tinfoil hats. (At the town border I was disoriented by a guy in a Jeep Wrangler flying an enormous confederate flag stenciled with the word “REDNECK”. I though that was incongruous to the nature of the event, then remembered the rich history of American abductees.)

The UFO Festival is held every May to commemorate the Trent UFO Photographs, taken in 1950 by a local farmer that many agree are among the most credible images of a UFO ever captured.

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u.s. bank old main branch

I rarely use the ATM in the garage entrance to the Portland Main Office of U.S. Bank downtown, preferring instead to step inside the lobby and waste the teller’s time—depositing a check I’m sure they’d prefer I used the machine for—just for the opportunity to absorb the atmosphere in the cavernous old branch.

One weekday morning I took a break from work and walked next door (from the old Wells Fargo Building, built 102 years ago; Portland’s first “skyscraper” and host to the downtown Raptor Cam) to use the teller line at the old U.S. Bank. Afterwards, I approached the guard who stands attentively every day in the lobby and asked if I could take a few pictures; were there any restrictions?

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