What I Didn’t Know About Portland, Oregon

A few weeks ago Brent and I flew to Portland to visit two of our favorite people: our son Greg and his wife, Katie. The whole time we were there, I had this odd feeling that we had traveled to another English-speaking country. We definitely weren’t in Texas anymore. Here are a few things I learned about Portland:

1. Portland lacks that ridiculous spraaawl of our Texas cities. You can actually get along for days without a car. This is more valuable than a small-town Texan might think, because parking in Portland costs roughly the same as housing. Greg and Katie walk everywhere, except Greg drives to work.

The nice, compact city of Portland. That's Mt. Hood in the background.

The nice, compact city of Portland. That’s Mount Hood in the background.

2. I fondly imagined PORTland as a coastal city and, therefore, flat. You know, like our Gulf Coast cities such as Corpus Christi or Galveston, many of which are flatter than the road maps of themselves. Boy, was I ever wrong! We found a few streets that were level for a block or two. Other than that, the area where we spent most of our time — traveling on foot, mind you — tilted at anything from an obvious slant to dizzying steepness.
Lest you think I’m kidding, here’s the street we had to walk up to reach Greg and Katie’s apartment building. I went anaerobic every time I dragged myself up that last block.

Even in a 2-D photo you can tell it's steep.

Even in a 2-D photo you can tell it’s steep.

3. Flowers and stuff grow like crazy in Portland. And, as much as I hate to admit it, everything is not necessarily bigger in Texas. Take these trees at Washington Park, and the gorgeous blossoms in the Rose Garden.

Those tiny figures are Katie and Brent.

Those tiny figures are Katie and Brent. The roses below were as big as my cereal bowls.

Giant white roses

4. The neighborhood where our B&B is located was every bit as hilly as the adjoining district where Greg and Katie live. Really? … Switchbacks on a residential street??

SO glad we didn't have to drive around this curve!

SO glad we didn’t have to drive around this curve!

5. If you try to take a photo of the city’s business / industrial district from a bridge, and there’s another car beside you, the resulting picture will look like a car ad.
Hmmm. Come to think of it, that would be true of any city. Never mind. City from bridge

6. I mean, how did people even build these cliffside houses? Where did they park the concrete truck?
See that brown line running up and down below the shrub? That’s a stairway, people!

7. On the other hand, the crazy hills did allow for rather nice sunrise views of the city.

8. I had no idea how cute the shopping district would be. We found all sorts of restaurants — even a couple of Mexican places, which we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to try because we were, after all, in the Pacific Northwest. We’d heard rumors.

Clothes, crafts, toys, jewelry, ice cream, you name it and you can find it in Portland.

Clothes, crafts, toys, jewelry, ice cream, you name it and you can find it in Portland.

9. And that cute shopping district is, as it turns out, a wonderful place to have a first “In Real Life” encounter with a dear online friend who was already like a sister to me. Jody Collins, you ROCK for driving down to visit (and eat, and, you know, shop).

10. The very best thing of all about Portland is that our sweet “kids” like it. They feel happy and at home there.

I came back to Texas contented with Greg and Katie’s situation, even though I missed them before we ever landed at D/FW. I also brought back a fresh appreciation for our mildly rolling hills.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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12 Responses to What I Didn’t Know About Portland, Oregon

  1. jodyo70 says:

    Oh, friend, I’m smiling all over again…. This was lovely.

    Like

  2. Sharon O says:

    great writing. We love our pacific northwest. I live outside the metro area in a smaller community but it still is very much hills and trees. I am closer to the ocean by 65 miles.

    Like

  3. marlece says:

    this makes me smile from the hills to the mexican restaurant to being ok with your kids living on our end the world. I am so sorry I missed you, come visit again!

    Like

  4. saraleeperel says:

    I felt like I was there with you. As always, great writing. Thank you, sweets! Love you.

    Like

  5. Cindy Gise says:

    Love the story. You should visit Vancouver. Very nice as well.

    Like

    • Thanks, Cindy. We actually DID run up to Vancouver en route to the airport, just to visit the old Hudson Bay post and Army base. Seems like a wonderful town to live in.
      Say… any chance of Jon being stationed at Lewis-McChord in the next couple of years…??

      Like

  6. Dana Red says:

    Enjoyed your reflections on your trip! I know you had a great time!

    Like

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