Typically, my trip is over too soon. Tomorrow evening I fly home from Portland, into the fire and brimstone that is northern California, and back into what we think of as real life though I think if one does it right, travel is real life and work is the other thing we do from time to time.
I’ve spent the last couple of days exploring neighborhoods around Portland; though I think I haven’t really even scratched the surface. My friends Bonnie and James moved up here several years back, and love it here; I rather suspect the ‘tour’ they’ve given us has been more a sales job for ‘why move up to Portland’.
Portland is a funky town; I spent today trying to think of what it’s like. It has some similarity to Santa Cruz, CA; but it’s much more a place than Santa Cruz. It also has some similarity to Berkley, but Berkley has much more sense of self-importance. It finally occurred to me that it felt a bit like Austin; it’s a college town, it’s an oasis of culture and weirdness in a largely back-woods state, and it’s a place which seems to see itself as apart from it’s surrounds. It has a dynamic food scene (today’s oddest treat; blue-cheese chocolate truffle), a somewhat unique music scene, and people on the street all seem a half step ahead of things, style-wise. Yet it’s also very much a small town, not quite so cool as it thinks it is. You can see people trying to be cool.
I like this town. I don’t, though, love it yet. I could immediately visualize living in Victoria (as I could when I was in Vancouver ten years ago). I actually pondered living in Seattle. Portland, though, I haven’t yet come to terms with. I can’t quite decide if it’s self-aware funkiness more tips the scale toward appealing, or annoying.
Either way, it’s a town I need to see more of. I don’t know why it’s taken so long to get up here to visit; the family I’m staying with are some of my favorite people in the world, and they’ve had an open offer extended to ages. It’s not that far, and I can even see coming up here on two wheels some day, if I pick a good time of year for motorcycle travel.
I still haven’t managed to get to Voodoo Donuts for a bacon maple bar, one of the key goals of my trip. I’m hoping to get that taken care of tomorrow. On the other hand, if I don’t get there, it’s one more reason to come back real soon now.