We drove up to Portland through a massive pine forest that went on for miles. As a result of all those trees, there were quite a few lumber related vehicles on the road: Portland isn’t just another American city, but rather the place where the kids I babysat in Minnesota for 6 years moved to a few years ago, so I got to see how big they’ve gotten:
Since we had such an awful time in the Roseburg Motel 6 and surrounding area, we decided we needed a much better hotel. We stayed in a pretty flash Best Western with this excellent river view from the balcony: We spent most of the evening hanging out with the boys and their parents. It was lovely to be in a house again and eat real food. Many thanks to their mom, Val, for cooking for us. They had come out to Oregon from Minnesota, so Val was able to tell me what was different about Portland compared to the Midwest. She said it was a very do-it-yourself place. People here were likely to do things like make their own yogurt or dry their own fruit and were much more likely to home school. She said the flannel and beards is all true, but she said she was surprised to find out they were more polite drivers than in the Midwest for the most part. I wonder if this is due to having so many cyclists and it being very bike friendly.
The next day we all went out in the city center:
Portland has an art tax, so there is a lot of this sort of thing around the city: We all had a very late but delicious lunch at a place called Voodoo Doughnuts. You can stab the voodoo doughnut to make all the delicious raspberry sauce come out. Naturally Chris and the two youngest boys chose this: I chose the first doughnut I’ve ever had that was so utterly non-vegetarian that it included two slices of real bacon:
Here’s the video:
Next we popped into Puppet Labs. Puppet is something that Chris has often used in his work as a system administrator, so this is a place of special interest to him. We will do a full post on it in the near future.
This is a bookstore that takes up a whole block and had used Doctor Who books I didn’t already have: We all had a rest in the afternoon except Val, who had multiple music lessons to attend to. In the evening, we went out for pizza, but first, we went to the only municipal elevator in the country. It had quite the view and one of those boys enjoyed photobombing us, as most little boys probably do:
For the next couple of days, even though the whole family had to go away for a conference, we decided to stay another few night as we got a great deal on the lovely, independent Clackamas Inn and Suites. The beds were excellent and the room had a hot tub bath, which was excellent. They even provide a ‘snack’ which could basically double as dinner around 5 PM. If you are in the area, we very much recommend it.
I spoke with a few people, one of which said she loved Oregon and it was easily her favorite state. The other person, a guy at Target, said that it used to be very rainy and cloudy here, but in the last year, he felt like he’d moved to Northern California with how good the weather had been.
The next day we met someone from Phoenix. He told us even having moved up here, he still really loved Phoenix. He said it was indeed as cheap as we thought it was and much cheaper than Portland. He sound downtown was even reasonably priced there. He said long distance cycling was quite easy there and he would frequently do 20-25 miles. We also finally found out why Mesa is considered a bit rough (we had no idea at the time – people were extremely friendly); there is lots of meth around there apparently.
All that said, we quite liked Oregon, too. The West in general has a lot going for it.
Before leaving Oregon, we went to the end of the Oregon Trail, which I am sure will be familiar to most Americans in my age bracket due to most of us playing that really basic Oregon Trail game when we were kids. Aside from the game, it was one of those cool end points like getting to Mile 0 in Key West. It had been the end of a major route west where people hoping to make a better life in the west would travel the perilous road from Missouri all the way to Oregon in a covered wagon: