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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Keep Portland Weird

Portland advertising is frank

Portland, Oregon, that is.  
A day or two before sailing back into the Annapolis harbor in May, we bought two airline tickets to Portland.  Two of our four children live there now and we haven’t seen them since last July.  It was high time for a visit, and the long Memorial Day weekend was a perfect opportunity.  We arrived there in time for the annual Portland Rose Festival. 
International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park, Portland 

We had a lot of catching up to do with our children, in addition to meeting a new person of interest in my son’s life.  The timing of this trip also coincided with my son’s birthday.  Celebrating a child’s birthday in person seems a rare event these last few years.   I had to apologize to my daughter for not having the foresight to give birth to her over a holiday weekend, thereby increasing the likelihood of us visiting over a long weekend.  
Historic Fort Vancouver in foreground.  Mount Hood in the distance.

Portlanders love their mountains and their bicycles.  Bicycling is a popular green option.  They reduce traffic congestion and parking problems.  Portland has invested in the infrastructure to make biking a practical alternative to commute to work.  There are bike lanes most everywhere.  
Bicycle sculpture, downtown Portland

Bikes are even raised to a higher status by being the subject of public works of art, and the theme for numerous brew houses.  As for breweries—I don’t know how many there are in Portland, but am told that one could visit a new brewery every weekend for a year and not even be close to seeing them all.  Brew pubs are scattered throughout the city.  They are neighborhood gathering spots for entire families.  
BrewCycle Portland

It is not surprising, perhaps, that Portlanders have figured out a way to marry their love of bicycles with their appreciation of breweries.  On my son’s birthday, my daughter and his girlfriend treated him and 13 of their closest friends to an afternoon brew pub cycling tour.  Sixteen people, pedaling together to propel something that looks to me like a gypsy wagon, but without the walls.  They pedaled from brew pub to brew pub, imbibing only whilst at each brew pub.   Carl and I waved goodbye and spent the afternoon browsing around downtown Portland.  A pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
Will's Leather goods, made from dairy cow hides

As you probably know, Portland has legalized marijuana.  There are cannabis shops everywhere.   Despite being in Portland for an entire week, I did not see it, nor smell it anywhere.  Neither were there people standing in lines waiting to purchase weed.   There were however, people extending down a whole block waiting to buy doughnuts at VooDoo.  Probably tourists.   
VooDoo Doughnuts.   Known for its' unusual doughnuts.   

Portlanders have come up with some great ideas.   Several have to do with eating and drinking.  McMenamins Corp. bought up several old structures and turned them into wonderfully creative places to dine, party, watch movies, play pool, or even stay overnight.  Each is unique and unusual.   Another idea was so brilliant, I cannot figure out why I’ve never seen it before—a combination laundromat and restaurant!  Genius!  I have spent my fair share of time in laundromats up and down the East Coast and in the Bahamas over the past year.  I would have loved the option of having a meal or cup of coffee and using the laundromat’s Wi-Fi while waiting for my clothes to dry.   
The Silver Man at Portland Saturday Market

The weirdest thing I experienced while in Portland however, was at a W**Mart.   We were invited for gourmet burgers at the home of friends of my children.  We wanted to bring some snacks and beverages to share.  In Oregon, beer and wines are sold  along with groceries so we stopped at a W**Mart.  I picked up the snacks—Carl grabbed some wine and beer and and we hurried to Self-Checkout since we were already running late. Our children did the same, meeting at a different Self-Checkout lane.
Cape Horn Trail Head, Columbia River Gorge

Carl ran the items through the Self-Checkout.  A hassled looking clerk hurried over to us.  She asked to see Carl’s ID.  Then she asked to see mine.  That’s a first, I thought. Vision deficit?  Mistake #1:  My purse was in the car.   Puzzled, we expressed our incredulity.  She held firm, “All members of the party need to produce an ID.”
Carl teaches us about wild Salmon and fisheries.

Mistake #2:  We went to where our children were going through their Self-Checkout lane.   They all had their IDs.  They could pay for our stuff for us, we figured.  Wrong.  The red-faced clerk followed us. “Are you all together,” she asked.  Carl, a little testy by this time, said, “I’ve never seen these people before in my life.” and walked out, calling over his shoulder that he would “go somewhere else” to buy snacks and alcohol.  
Carl and I, Columbia River below

Mistake #3:  I might be more honest than is in my best interest.  I smiled at the clerk half-heartedly, “Yes, we’re together.”  Heh heh.  The clerk said she needed to see their IDs as well.  Four of us answered in unison, “What?”  My daughter, having given up on this nonsense, had paid for her snack selections and announced she was going to bring the car around for us.
Pollination in action

Mistake #4:  I finally decided that the fastest thing would be for me to run to the car, get my ID and pay for our selections rather than finding another store.  I ran back into W**Mart with my ID.  Astonished, the clerk would then not allow me to pay for the alcohol because she had not seen the ID of “all members of our group.”  My daughter, the reprobate wannabe, was now waiting for us in an idling "getaway" car along with my testy husband.  Huh!  In the end, we left without any purchases.  Truly WEIRD event! 
One of thousands of rose species at Washington Park, Portland

The Rose Festival was incredible, by the way.  The wildflowers on a walk in the Columbia River Gorge were beautiful too.  If Portland is weird, it oughta stay just as it is.  (With the exception of the W**Mart clerk training protocol, perhaps.)
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