And when it does, it’s not a deal breaker.
Every now and then, I have to trade the great Southwest for the Pacific Northwest, the wide open spaces for some urban pleasures, cholla cactus and juniper savannah for unending miles of deep, moist green. For that, Portland, Oregon is my city of choice. Its people are friendly and polite and Portland is wonderfully walkable, reminiscent of the San Francisco of bygone days. Did I say its residents are polite? That is an understatement! More than once I’ve been on the freeway in bumper-to-bumper, switched on my turn signal, and the driver in the next lane backed off to let me in.
In Portland, you don’t have to go far to experience the great out of doors. It is filled with parks, from Forest Park, the largest urban stretch of forest in the country, to the Japanese Garden.
For nightlife, Portland is fast becoming a mecca for jazz. From the outlying Hollywood District to the Pearl—once populated with warehouses, now filled with luxury condos, fine restaurants and night clubs—where to go and what to do is a dilemma only because of the abundant choices. As for the writer in me, not only has Oregon the highest population of readers per capita, but Portland boasts Powell’s Books, the largest independent bookstore on the planet.
Talk about abundant choices. One of Portland’s finer restaurants is named Veritable Quandary because that’s what choosing from its eclectic, largely continental menu becomes. Or try Henry’s Tavern, a restaurant for young and old with full bar and pool tables, as well as a menu ranging from comfort food like macaroni and cheese to pot roast, steak au poivre to Maryland style blue crab cakes. For fresher fare, there are several farmers’ markets with among other wonders—would you believe—fist-sized chanterelle mushrooms for between $6.99 and $8.99 a pound!
I’ll only briefly mention the Willamette and Columbia rivers that flow through it and contribute greatly to its character, but I suggest you set aside time for a boat ride down the Columbia River, second in volume only to the mighty Mississippi.