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.
What I won’t miss about Portland
1. Rain. Its wet reputation? All true. Oh, you’ll read “yes, but, [insert town in Hawaii or the deep South] has blah blah more rainfall inches per year” but that stat must have more to do with the accumulation of occasional torrential downpours, not the persistent, dank, bone chilling, continual grey drizzle that typifies Portland’s miserable weather. Here’s how much it rains: Shoppers at Safeway hand off their “dry” grocery cart at the entrance. (Others must use provided paper towels to wipe down the soaking wet carts.) Outdoor event coordinators buy “rain insurance”. Outdoor weddings are scheduled with a contingency plan. Due to depression and suicide (often linked to the weather), Portland ranks reliably high in the annual “America’s Unhappiest City” lists.
2. Mexican food :: lack thereof.
3. Smug jaywalkers and bicycle terrorists (you know who you are).
4. The rush hour bottleneck on I5 between Portland and The Couve, effectively trapping residents behind state lines between 2 and 7pm.
What I will miss
Virtually everything else. Portland, Oregon is the most eccentric, vital, stimulating, and flat out fun location in the country (north of San Francisco and west of New Orleans).
Like a New Yorker who leaves the city without ever going to the Met, I’m saddened by all I haven’t done and took for granted; real music, edgy food, and whimsical events available right outside my door, every day, every night of the week.
Before leaving I authored an iPhone app, Portland Insider, as a sort of love letter to the city. (Please buy a copy! It’s only $2.99 and I get a buck for each one sold. I can’t say proceeds will go to charity unless you consider my Airstream habit one.) Perfect for visitors who are looking for Rose City activities beyond the mainstream.