While it may seem like I’ve been on a bit of a blog hiatus lately, I’ve actually been gobbling up a ton of new travel and outdoor material to fill up my little page in cyberspace. I recently traveled to Portland for the first time and was stoked to check it out this place that friends always said would be perfect for me.
We’ve all seen the “Keep Portland Weird” bumper stickers, and I was bound and determined to seek out the weirdest of the weird. But as I drove around the neighborhoods in all four quadrants, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Chicago I was desperately trying to get away from.
According to the Keep Portland Weird website, this is what “keeping it weird” is all about:
Keep Portland Weird is about supporting local business in the Portland Oregon area. We want to support local business because they make Portland stand out from other cities and make it a more unique place to live. They do this by providing consumers a wide range of products that represent the different cultures that make up Portland.
Perhaps I had unrealistic expectations or watched a few too many episodes of Portlandia, but for whatever reason, I assumed that “weird” would slap me in the face the moment I arrived in town. Although I had to scratch a bit beneath the surface, I’m pleased to report that I did find the “weird.” And although that “weird” wasn’t all that foreign to me, I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Without further ado, these are a few of my favorite encounters in Portland.
With 56 breweries inside the Portland city limits and 76 in the metro area, Portland has more breweries than any city in the world. This particular flight was enjoyed at Lucky Labrador Brew Hall.
Speaking of Labradors, Portland is crazy dog friendly. I rarely came across an outdoor patio at a brewery or restaurant that wasn’t inhabited by a few pooches. I definitely see a dog like Abner (who I fostered earlier this year) in my future so dog-friendly places catch my eye these days.
With 56 breweries to tour and taste in town, some obvious safety concerns come to mind. Pedal off some of those empty calories while getting from Point A to Z a little safer. Current BrewCycle stops are the Lucky Labrador, Lompoc Brewing, Bridgeport, Pints, and Old Town Brewing Company.
Want to earn beer money for biking? Head over to Hopworks Urban Brewery to ride a stationary bike outside the front door to earn $1 for every 15 minutes you bike. Apparently you can burn off one 250-calorie beer with 30 minutes of easy biking. Who knew?!
After living in Chicago for nearly six years, food trucks aren’t much of an anomaly, but I was determined to scope out the Portland food truck scene for myself. Unlike the Chicago trucks that drive around downtown to feed disgruntled 9-5 workers, the Portland food trucks congregate in clusters in the trendy neighborhoods. I snapped this shot while devouring some dumplings along Alberta Street.
My favorite flower of the moment is the hydrangea, but roses are okay too. Unlike the nearby Japanese Garden, the Washington Park International Rose Test Garden is totally free to explore on a whim. And despite getting stung by a bee on the way into the garden (no allergies!), this was a totally relaxing stroll full of color and hushed voices.
Speaking (i.e. writing) about beautiful places Portland’s location near amazing outdoor stuff is what really gives it a leg up on ole’ Chicago.
Keep an eye out for future posts about hiking the Columbia River Gorge (Multnomah Falls pictured below) and around Mt. Hood (Salmon River Trail pictured below).
Music & Art
It wasn’t difficult to find fun things to do after the virtual workday came to a close. One night, I checked out a free local bluegrass concert at a restaurant, East Burn.
Another night, I watched an outdoor showing of a 1960s Pink Panther film at a French pastry shop. And on another night, I joined a pub trivia game…and didn’t come in last place! PDX Pipeline was the best resource I found for random things going on around town.
One afternoon I joined a pottery painting session at Mimosa Studios, which was (believe it or not) running a traveling gnome promotion. Here’s how my little lady turned out:
There were other weird things I encountered while roaming the streets all week, like the Lodekka Double Decker Dress Shop. Unfortunately, it was closed by the time I strolled by. Because honestly, what better response is there to “I love your dress!” than “Thanks, I got it in a bus!”
And I passed by the occasional “oompah band” waiting for chiropractic care…
But as with any city, I suppose, Portland had its fair share of unpleasantries as well. Take for example, the impenetrable line at Voodoo Doughnuts…
Or the surprising lack of designated bike lanes…
Or the scary wildfires on the outskirts…
Traffic was irritating, public transit had mind-numbing delays, and locals seem to be totally fine with waiting in line FOREVER for their food. Watch Portlandia’s “Brunch Village” to get a sense of what I’m talking about.
But despite those annoyances, Portland gets a gold star in my book. My friends may be right about it suiting me well because I sorta kinda miss it already…and I still have lots more in Portland to explore.