Jukeboxparables

WT2010 – USA – Day 31/32 – Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 16, 2010

WT2010 – USA
Day 31/32 Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA
[On the iPOD] The Cribs / The Thermals / Phoenix / Animal Collective / Blur

Driving a short trek from Vancouver, BC in the morning to Portland, OR. Six hours of freeways ugh. Funnily enough I got pulled up at the boarder because the people at LAX (when I arrived initially) hadn’t stapled/stamped my customs declaration (they stamped the passport only) and the guys at boarder control were rather confused with this; they thought I was entering the U.S for the first time. I sorted it out in 5minutes though and was on my way. Not much fun but getting into Portland felt kinda weird, like oddly familiar in a way as if I’d been living there for years some time ago and I needed to catchup on things.

I got a late lunch at Wendy’s. I’ve made it one of my points to try every dodgy fast food place America has to offer. From comparing the major chains to ones back home and new ones serving up generally the same rubbery burgers. Wendy’s was rather dodgier than the rest though. It was also kind of funny being in there as a tour bus or something had formed a queue before me. Nothing like experiencing the American dream; the rush and commotion of orders being yelled in a Wendy’s burger queue.

I was trolling through The Mercury (Portland’s free street-press equivalent of the DrumMedia in Sydney) It’s odd how similar they are actually. Jotting down some things to do on my last night in Portland (the next day would mean a long (10hour) drive to San Francisco, I was only half interested in some of the stuff going on so I decided to call some contacts from the previous visit. Portland know-it-all Noelle (knowelle) gave me directions to a house party where another mate Clint’s band was playing a gig.

The house was in SE Portland and was utterly rad, it had no plasterboard on the walls so it was just timber framing inside but had heaps of character and was very welcoming, I got to talking to one of peeps who lived there about a few things such as the random art on the walls and some of the band equipment in one of the rooms. They apparently just picked up some equipment and jammed when they felt like it, weren’t really in a band or anything. When I got there however “Jackalope Saints” were about to kick off their set to an intimate room of locals swilling IPA brews and the odd home-made concoctions mixed in jam-jars.

Straight from the get-go I noticed that lead singer Clinton Herrick’s vocals are spot on for the vibe of the band; a 4 piece with double-bass / acoustic gtr / with lead mandolin-banjo to boot! For all your Australians think; Xavier Rudd but less beach-bogan with didgeridoo and more Pacific-Northwest American refinement. The set swaggered from slow songs with cool picking to upbeat strumalongs with impressive lead mandolin. With folkrock influences like Paul Simon this relatively new yet fairly tight band has a bright future beyond their native Portland, Oregon.

I tried snapping photos in vain; it was a living room in a house after all and there were no front-facing stage lights but I did snap a few that captured the mood; people dancing along with beverages of choice in hand. After the set I explored the house some more until it was suggested we move on to a cool bar somewhere in the NE, when you’ve essentially got a tour guide you don’t pay much attention to where your going. I then got roped into trying something called a hot-totty (or something) which was hot whisky with lemon and honey and some other stuff. Noelle bet her life on it’s sugary allure but I couldn’t stomach it! Not so much the taste but the hot-ness thing. I have heaps of trouble putting down hot sake also so maybe I’d like the iced variety? After some food and whatnot we headed to meet another pal of Noelle’s and talk shit at another bar. This led to us eventually deciding to hit a strip-club.

Noelle and Brett knew one of the dancers, which Brett tells me isn’t unusual. Have I forgotten to mention that Portland as a city has the most strip clubs (per capita) in the world?! (I thought it was only in the U.S) But Noelle corrects me triumphantly. Fuck Vegas, who needs it? Essentially Portland isn’t anywhere near as seedy as Vegas nor does it have any of the fakeness of diva-esque neon lights haphazardly ram shackled onto anything that will support them. The clubs and scene is there but it’s more understated. It’s there if you want it. Anyway twenty or so $1 bills and a few drinks later and it was closing time. The girls at Sassy’s work pretty damn hard and put on a rad show, Brett/Noelle’s friend was probably the best there and came for a chat later on. She mentioned wanting to travel around and to Australia even but like anyone else, it’s hard to get some savings together. It reminded me how long it’s taken to get mine together to be doing this.

Saying goodbye in the early morning and then driving out of Portland left me with a feeling of sadness, as if I were driving away from well known and loved surroundings/people evan though in reality I’m no local. I haven’t really felt that way at all on this trip so far (apart from leaving Tokyo) A few droning hours on a freeway sorted me out though. Got into San Francisco late again, great.

Saturday night really isn’t the night to be out in SF it seems, It was basically the same deal as last time round. Cheesy club nights. I got dinner and roamed around a bit, random pubs that weren’t playing anything interesting and this was in the Mission district. I don’t know if I’ve somehow unluckily missed all the cool places or something but SF just doesn’t seem to be my kinda town. Which is odd because everyone I’ve talked to has spoken fondly of it. It is the place to be if you like “cutting-edge” hipster electro-dj nights and r&b and soul and the like. It reminds me a lot of Sydney in that it has it’s gorgeous tourist sites (if you take away the two or three half-deascent club nights that is) Ouch, scathing! huh?

As I mentioned before though, a lot of the places I wanted to visit have literally closed in the last month so maybe it’s going through a change of guard in regards to Indie venues or whatnot. Who knows, all I know is I’ve managed to sniff out amazing places in every city I’ve visited thus far including ones where I can’t speak the language and San Francisco wasn’t speaking mine. Not enough time I guess! Roll on New York.

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WT2010 – USA – Day 24/25 – Portland, OR

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 7, 2010

WT2010 – U.S.A
Day 24/25 – Portland, OR
[On the iPOD] The Libertines / The Sonics

Sunny sunny Portland! I’d found something out from the locals, they discern who ISNT from Portland by the simple fact they carry an umbrella. Apparently the done thing is everyone wears hoodies to fend off the rain and rain it does in Portland (a little too much this week) It is the most bizarre weather I’ve ever seen. You could compare Portland to Melbourne but the fact of the matter is it never rains more than 5minutes, not sure if it’s the way the landscape surrounding Portland is organised but those rain clouds roll in and roll away before you’ve had a chance to get our umbrella wet. Mostly it’s sunshower drizzle and a trusty hoodie will get you through the day.

I headed over to the Portland Craft Museum, it doesn’t sound very enticing does it? I had my doubts too but I was running out of options in the rain. Some interesting subversive ‘hack-art’ mostly surrounding clothing. A local artist had modified two bicycles and rigged them to a sewing machine to faux canvas clothing. It was a human-powered production line, perhaps protesting modern production line clothing or the hours it takes to produce such clothes using human power in protest of sweat shop labor. I’m not too sure frankly, its rather subjective. Interesting none the less. Another display featured giant blanket with the Nike swoosh which was collectively sewn by hundreds of people around the world and then delivered to a CEO at Nike in protest of their sweat-shops. The piece I liked the best however was a bunch of letters stuck to a wall.

They were letters written by a former gulf-war marine address to various heads of organisations such as America’s ambassador to the UN, the secretary of Defence and so forth. Next to them were the replies. Basically they were short and to the point letters (half a paragraph) praising efforts of the recipient on sticking to their intended goals re: the current wars in Iraq/Afghanistan and mildly suggesting an opposition to it. Enclosed with the letters were home-made pots with Army-inspired themes as gifts to the recipients. It’s kind of jading reading the robotic replies. The last was addressed to the representative of China to the UN praising China’s efforts to oppose to the war, next to the letter was the pot (returned to sender unopened) It’s funny how American politicians are happy to play the game and be all smiles whilst the Chinese just don’t give a toss. No photos of most of the exhibition (not allowed)

I later headed to a popular music store called Jackpot Records (bands play in-store showcases frequently) See The Cribs doing so right here I was after an album by a local band called Yacht and found a cheap used copy but they couldn’t find the CD! So I asked if they had The Cribs latest album on vinyl which they didn’t. The guy felt genuinely bad for me leaving empty handed so he ended up giving me a Cribs T-shirt which were made specially for the in-store appearance (a limited set) for free! Radness. I also picked up a present for a friend.

The rain was picking up so I again headed to the only point of comfort nearby The Powell’s bookstore. I’m not sure if I put into perspective what this store is to Portland, it’s more than a bookstore it’s like a meeting-point and hangout for all of Portland it seems. The place is ALWAYS packed they have a cafe in there which serves epicly good coffee and tea and the independent feel of the store and it’s selection of new and used books make it a place you can keep going back to without getting bored. Did I mention it has 4 levels and spans a city-block? I stayed in there reading The Zinesters guide to Portland. Written by a local bunch of Zinesters (A Zinester is someone who makes Zines; home-made, photocopied magaZINES which usually contain creative writing on topics of sub-cultural themes which are mostly autobiographical) That’s a poor description but you get the jist.

The book apparently started as a zine itself, with a bunch of ‘cool places to go and see’ in Portland written for out-of-town zinesters visiting for a zine symposium. If I say zine one more time i’m going to explode. But anyway it’s now a 100+ illustrated book, its quite amazing actually. I learnt a few things like theres actually 5 quadrants to the city (NW, N, NE, SE, SW) and Portland has 12 bridges! (8 in the immediate city area) Bridgetown indeed. Sipping Japanese sencha tea I totally lost track of time.

No cool gigs on Friday unfortunately though the night before I’d headed to see a band at a venue called Holocene. “The Morning Benders” out of San Francisco. They’re opening song was brilliant kind of an oldschool british post-punk vibe to it with working up rhythms. But then they settled into the ‘sound of today’ or falsetto folk-pop. They’re ultimately a soft folk-pop band along the lines of Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend. But not as memorable really. If only they’d stuck to that post-punk opener instead of conforming to what’s cool right now. I kind of left not really that interested. Good venue though.

Saturday involved getting out to “the real portland” on my own. The NE and SE. Basically these quadrants all have ‘suburbs’ or areas but when someone asks where your from people usually reply by the quadrant. In the NE it’s Alberta St that featured a bunch of cool little shops and restaurants, it was a shame about the heavy rain or I would’ve explored more. I settled for lunch however and next headed to SE Hawthorne Pde. This place reminded me most of home, or that is Newtown in Sydney. Not as big or as crowded but good original stores and restaurants. Theres the best damn used clothes store I’ve ever seen called Red Light. I tried on two jackets, 1 of which was too big and the other too small (DAMNIT!) because they were an utter bargain and totally cool. Theres racks and racks of vintage used t-shirts. Girls would probably go insane in this place. There was only a small section for mens clothes with the rest of the store for women. A Madonna album played in the background whilst I flicked through original run Simpsons T-shirts. Early 90’s flashback much! Ack.

I tried to go to a park East of Hawthrone Pde but it turns out it was a damn Forest again, PDX likes its inner-city forests. After shopping around for a bit I ate and then headed back early to relax for a big gig that night.

A show at the Doug-Fir (a snazzy newish-looking venue) I don’t like that “new-polished-bar” venue appeal but I’ve gotta say they have the best sound tech/setup I’ve probably ever heard. Utterly perfect. I say ‘big gig’ because headlining was current hyped “IT” band “Surfer Blood” from Florida. Even JJJ back home has been sprucing them loudly. They’ve got a sort of Surf-Pop 60’s vibe to them, but not in a raw-garage way. More in a Beach Boys kind of way (minus the keys and multiple voice harmonising or epic genius layering) I’d like to say they were all that, but they looked about 17 years old and though they were tight they pretty much had the appeal of a young band. IE; Not much. They have some stand out songs but overall it’s a bit too simple in parts. The venue was packed (near sell out) but no one seemed to be dancing to it. All hype? No, there are some points to write home about, but they’re no Arctic Monkeys (and look where they’ve gone) Time will tell I guess.

But but but the band before them by the name of “Turbo Fruits” from Tennessee were wholey entertaining and in parts; a flat out riot. This is probably due to the fact they have a former member of “Be Your Own Pet” It’s raw 60’s garage rock/pop meets a Southern-knee-slapping good time. At times a little too much so (I almost mistook one of their songs for Kings Of Leon) but thankfully the vocals sound nothing along the lines of that accent. They played two covers; CCR – Bad Moon Rising (in a garage style) and then The Undertones – Teenage Kicks, which was spot on. If anything the band doesn’t have the songs as yet (a short set with two covers) but they’re one to look out for. I met some cool people later on and then stumbled home. Just like that Portland came to an end. Farewell Bridgetown, Beervana, PDX, Stumptown and The City Of Roses.

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WT2010 – USA – Day 22/23 – Portland, OR (Through rose coloured glasses)

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 2, 2010

WT2010 – U.S.A
Day 22/23 – Portland
[On the iPOD] Comet Gain / Yacht

Wow, what a busy two days. I was feeling pretty lazy in the morning so didn’t get going until almost 12 (which is fine because a lot of stores in Portland don’t open till 11am, they’re apparently not morning people just like myself) I missed breakky so decided to get lunch and wandered across a place called “Red Robin” which is basically a cross between outback steakhouse and burger king. It has ‘to be seated’ service like a proper restaurant and makes gourmet burgers. It’s pretty much like burger kings big posh brother. They cook the burgers as you order them and have an array of toppings and stuff. It was fairly good. So with energy to meet the day I headed off and decided to explore East Burnside Ave. Which is the ‘truer’ Portland that is; more Suburbia than Inner city new urban buildings. Vintage clothing, Art Supplies, Comic Store, Coffee Shops, Home-made clothing labels. You’ll find all this on Burnside Ave amongst peoples houses though, its fairly spread out and you have to walk a bit.

I was wandering kind of aimlessly in and out of places with intent to find a music store right up the other end. I walked into a store that I’d later find out is pretty popular here called wholefoods where it’s basically a mini supermarket based all on organic produce, they actually have a cafe where you can eat your food within the store. Free WIFI too.

Eventually found the music store after a long wander but nothing of interest that I didn’t already own in their used section. Prices for new albums were moderately okay ($15ish) But still too much to go on a shopping spree for.

I headed back the direction I came and wandered into an underground Comic store (literally) that had boxes and boxes of comics and graphic novels and the like. The store keeper was really helpful telling me about anything and everything but I was just browsing. I later listened to him and a friend/customer rant on about things like something out of Kevin Smith movie. Pretty funny

I then really didn’t have a goal because when I got back outside it started to rain again, total bummer. I was thinking of heading back to my hotel heaps early for the first time on this entire trip! But I wandered past a coffee/tea house and then for some reason decided to walk backwards towards it and inside. Something to eat/drink to recharge a bit.

I got to talking to a local by the name of Noelle in there about Portland and certain Issues, she was working intently on her macbook so naturally I had to find out what about. It turns out she’s investigating Improper imprisonment of people on a case by case basis completely on her own time to try and shine some light on things and perhaps set things right and see justice done. It made me feel kind of selfish, my wandering about the world totally absorbed in all things me and heres someone actually doing some good.

Anyway we got to talking music and other things and next thing I knew I was riding in her trusty volvo on the way to meet her friends at a bowling alley. The entire gang were totally rad people and I petty much got a tour of Portland the rest of the day and night including a bar and some local brews to a place called “Voodoo Doughnuts” It’s a place I took a photo of on my first days wanderings (there was a queue outside) but I didn’t go in. Noelle’s good friend Clint explained their an uber dingy doughnut place that is so bad it’s good. Think BACON on a glazed donut. The place they took me too had a queue at like 9pm at night and they were playing oldschool thrash metal full blast in there whilst waiting to get served. Awesome (in a funny kind of way) Checkout the photos, It’s the ultimate late night diabetes-inducing-snack. I piked out on finishing my second doughnut though. I couldnt do it. I’ll try the bacon one next time I promise (with photos)

Oh I actually won one game of bowling, which was pretty surprising I normally gutter a lot. Anyway we finished the night chilling with beers watching the Portland Blazers totally school NY. It was pretty entertaining.

I started thursday with a sugar hangover. Ugh. Today was a warm day with no rain forecast so I decided to head to Forest Park. But first it was lunch. Portland has great restaurants but apart from those, another thing loved by the locals are certain areas within the city that have ‘trailer-style’ food service. There will be a carpark area and a line of trailer restaurants. Now I know what your thinking (In Australia this is associated with dodgy food) but do you really think they’d get away with serving bad food with the amount of good restaurants around?

I went for a trailer/stall called Nong’s Khao Man Gai and ordered the Chicken and Rice (Chicken is from a local farm) and then dodged the people lining up for their share at all the other stalls. You’ll find every nationality represented in one area or another. Thai, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese and I even spotted a Czech one called Tabor. I’ll try that one another day, apparently it’s great. Anyway I wanted to head to forest park pretty quick cause the food was hot.

As it turns out the park entrance I was aiming for was only 3km away. So I was there in less than 5min and parked on a bench at the entrance digging into the most amazing chicken/rice I’ve ever had anywhere. I love Thai food but have never had anything as good as that.

I should explain at this point that Forest Park isn’t a regular park but more a ‘National Forest’ type park in that it has 100’s of different trails and different entry points and spread acres and acres. Some are opened to bikes and pedestrians, others just pedestrians. I wasn’t knowing what to expect but soon I was following a river upstream and just totally surrounded by green old growth forest.

The photos speak for themselves. For all you Twilight fanatics this is the style of forest they shot the movies in. I walked on and on finding lots of hikers along the way. You’d see HUGE trees crashed across the path but parks services had been in with huge chainsaws and cut them open so you could still use the path it made for great photo opportunities, these massive trees cut open exposing ring-growth and sometimes hanging suspended over water as make-shift natural bridges.

I eventually stumbled onto something unexpected. An old stone hut on the forest trail. It looked about 100 years old or so. No timber left. You could walk up the stairs and inside. I then noticed a ‘downstairs’ entrance that was near pitch black inside. I wandered in and then out and then thought there is missing space. A hidden basement? No as it turns out in the dark area they’d bricked up the room (with modern bricks) probably to stop homeless people from living in there. There was also a map of the area and surrounding hiking trails. I’d walked close to 2km I’d say but this was just a small fraction of the park, it was amazing. It would take you weeks and weeks to explore it all I think. I headed back down towards civilisation.

Next I drove to Portland’s International Rose Test Garden. Mostly because I’ve heard it’s the best spot for photos of the distant Mt Hood (An 11,240ft peak making it the tallest in Oregon) It’s actually volcanic and is apparently the most likely volcanic mountain in Oregon to erupt. I caught a glimpse of it in town (just the very peak) in the sun and it looked awesome. Unfortunately the clouds had completely covered it up in the distance. It’s also too early for the Roses. This garden was established during WW1 as a sanctuary because it was believes the war would destroy many species of rose, since then it has accumulated over 7,000 different species. It must be some sight to see when they’re in bloom. They looked to be a few weeks off though. I’ll hopefully stop back through here either before I leave or on the way back down (I want that shot of Mt Hood!) even though I don’t have a good enough zoom lens.

Next I drove back into town for dinner at a bar/restaurant and again tried a different local brew. Then walked to a store by the name of “Compound” which had a bunch of cool art and design toys, art and clothing. Inspired a bit by Japan I think, but the local work on show was really good. I didn’t buy anything though. Nowhere to put it!

I’d heard about a ‘local’ 3D Museum. A private small one but I thought I’d check it out anyway. It was really interesting. On show were a range of ‘Viewmasters’ (remember those things you’d play with as a kid, the red goggles you’d put wheels in and spin them to see 3D images?) It turns out the guy who invented them was from Portland. The lady who ran the museum was very knowledgeable in ALL things 3D. A total buff. Apparently the man who invented the Viewmaster intended it as a serious scientific tool and spent a years with an anatomist dissecting specimens and taking stereo-photos. In the end it ended up as a cheap toy for kids!

I overheard a man enquire about how 3D stereo-photos that were hung on the wall that we were using a large custom made box to view worked. Basically if you looked at the photo it looked like a regular arty hung photo but there were 2 identical ones side by side (or so it seems) but they’re actually taken by two cameras a certain distance apart and when you use this box to view them (a box with mirrors in it that widens your point of view) you end up looking at this regular photo on the wall in amazing 3D; everything foreground is leaping at you. Remember I’m not talking an image that is blue/red overlaid. It was a regular photo.

Apparently you can do it at home; from memory the ratio of distance between the cameras is 1/30th to that of your subject. So if your aimed at a flower 30inches away, your cameras should be 1inch apart (centre focus point of lens that is) Then you just hang them side by side and buy this viewing tool online or make your own (its 4 mirrors, very easy) One photo was of a fountain, you could see individual splashes of water in the foreground. It was pretty enthralling. The Museum had a 3D movie showing and a bunch of Viewmasters and other 3D stuff for sale. It’s pretty good value.

Oh also the address of the Museum is on ‘Lovejoy’ Ave (ring a bell?) (Reverend Lovejoy) one of the gang from yesterday told me that a lot of the characters from The Simpsons are named after places in Portland (Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons is from Portland) You’ll also find Flanders Ave as well. The Nuclear power plant is based on one that was once powering Portland (it was knocked down years ago) It had cooling towers and everything. Springfield is a city in Oregon!

A long non-stop day. Hopefully the weather holds out tonight for night photography and hopefully seeing a good band or two. Photos below!

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WT2010 – USA – Day 20/21 – Portland

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 1, 2010

WT2010 – U.S.A
Day 20/21 – Portland
[On the iPOD] The Thermals / Radiohead

Probably the first time I’ve left my hotel in an organised fashion since hitting the states. I woke up, was out the door and in the car within 10minutes. I had a big drive ahead of me; Portland, OREGON was 1023km away according to the GPS. American highways still amaze me. You’ll have 5 lanes and then you’ll see a sign saying carpool lane up ahead and they’ll just build another lane, they have the space. You have 6 lane highways for miles and miles. It doesn’t stop congestion though, at one point leaving San Francisco I swear it was 8 lanes wide (when some lanes joined for a bit. The American solution to everything ‘build it bigger’) or add more.

Anyway there was traffic for the first hour and then it started to fade off (it was never as bad as L.A though) and eventually I’d left San Francisco behind and was staring amazing hills/mountains in the distance. This opens up to flat plains and a 2 lane freeway (all dual carriageway) which is immensely safe. You’ve gotta hand it to the Americans in this regard. Nothing like the 1lane v 1lane accident-waiting-to-happen roads you find in Australia.

Eventually you start to notice the temperature start to drop and rolling plains start turning into alpine forests and you start climbing hills and then theres fog and rain and more fog and rain. Northern California is beautiful. I was making good time but I’d still be arriving 7:30pm so I kinda didnt want to stop. Weather was getting worse and the rain began to pickup. A few hours from Portland and the drive becomes rather intense. You get huge lumber trucks carrying these creaking huge trees crammed on the back of them. They kick up a 5metre high wall of spray as they climb the hills and wind through the S-turns.

I’ve driven a fair bit; the entire East Coast of Australia in fact (in various directions) but never anything like this. Perhaps in parts for an hour or so. But not 4hours + of hill climbs and hill descents and S-bends in the pouring rain. There wasn’t a bit of flat straight road to be found! I was kind of loving it but also very very weary of being in a FWD car with low quality tyres and the amount of water on the road. Aquaplaning on one of those bends at that speed would be tough to counter.

Eventually the Alpine course gave way to the final stretch into Portland, normal freeway. It was a foggy night and you first spot a few building and think Oh its Portland! Rad! But then as you round the bend on a certain highway the first thing you spot are amazing bridges, six of them to the left I believe and one out of view. The bridges cross the river that splits the city down the middle but it bends a bit so you get this contrast and elevation of bridges and the city lights and the fog below and the river and it’s amazing on first sight. I don’t know if it was the fact I’d had to put up with harsh conditions for 10hours to get there that made me so awe-struck.

I leaped for my camera and fired off shots only to have the view go out of sight quickly. I told some friends it’s better than Paris but perhaps it was just the Winter equivalent of a mirage in the desert. Portland and it’s bridges sticking out of the fog after hours of roaming the forest highways. I got to my hotel and was so tired and it was literally 2 degrees outside and pouring rain I didn’t go out at all.

Sunny sunny Portland, I awoke to drizzling rain and gloomy conditions. The forecast is like this until Thursday. I begin to layer-up; a long-sleeve shirt, a long-sleeve flannel, a jumper with hoodie and a jacket with a hoodie. Walk outside; COOOOOOOOOLDDDDDD BACK INSIDE! I don’t know what it is about this town but it feels colder than being in the snow. Perhaps it’s the fact the sun is obscured by immense clouds, Im not sure. I cross my first bridge heading to the “Pearl District/Old Town” to roam around rather aimlessly. Eventually I try and find gloves (yes it was that cold) but I was after the fingerless variety to no avail. After taking a few shots the rain started to pickup and I needed to head somewhere indoors.

Stumbled across a bookstore which looked a good a place as any. As it turns out it’s apparently the biggest used book store in America or something. It’s a fricken city block with 4 levels! Awesomeness. A quick dip into the magazine section before I decide what I want to find; I spot a magazine called “Giant Robot” about Asian Pop Culture has some interesting articles on Music and Film and Art and Anime so this one is coming home with me. I then browse the Music section and there are a heap of interesting reads but I already have a book for this trip for cold days in. So I head to the photography section and find something I’ve been after since L.A. Perfect! $50 later and Im out in the cold again.

Really needing food I instead find a record store. Theres an ok selection of stuff but nothing I’m after. I do get a good tip theres a Sushi joint nearby though. So I head straight there, finally some Sushi in the states and it was pretty damn good. After lunch the weather calmed down a bit so I got to roam a bit more. I ended up somewhere or other North of town, I pretty much explored the entire Pearl district and areas nearby. Portland is basically split into four quandrants, two either side of the river. So I guess that’s one down three to go? I didnt get to the major park west of the Pearl though because the rain started to get really heavy. Luckily by this point I’d purchased an umbrella. Somehow I was still cold though with 2 hoodies on my head.

Back at the hotel taking the second most northern bridge (second tallest?), which I don’t know if it was the lack of food but I got vertigo on. For those that don’t know I HATE heights. I know it’s completely illogical to get the shakes on a bridge built to withstand a few thousand tonnes of automobile but the stairs up had space between the steps where you could constantly look down whilst climbing, ugh. Plus the wind and the rain blowing you around. Not very pleasant. I crossed the bridge though. Two down six to go? (I’m not sure if you can walk across all of them)

Portland during the day has the feeling of a working class town in places; theres the obvious Port and Industrial areas up the river. In the Pearl district however you find this perfect blend of brand-new modern urban development and old and original buildings converted into cosy bars and restaurants. It’s kind of like Melbourne but not as Multicultural (though it is) but more Old-American. You look at one bar and think; back in the 1920’s this would’ve been the secret hip hangout to get a drink during an era of prohibition. Then on your way across the road you see an ultra-modern light-rail system with simple and well organised stations and theres a few different lines with different coloured trams. Next you’ll see a modern urban art space for hire, a gallery, a great book store, a craft store and so on. A Victorian-esque park with a statue of Lincoln.

At this point I started to wonder, hold on where is everyone? And wheres all the traffic? Theres people on bikes and a few cars parked in the streets. A lot of people on the light-rail. It seems like this mid-sized city that has everything except congestion (2pm on Tuesday) As it turns out Portland only has 580k people. It’s smaller than it looks and all the cars are pretty much using the bridges and freeway network that bypasses the city itself to the south/north. That’s why it’s so endearing; you’ve got all these tall buildings yet the city retains a small-town yet cool-inner-city vibe all in one.

The people in charge of planning really know what they’re doing. The mix between heritage buildings and new ones looks grand though slightly yupified down a certain part of the NorthWest it’s only a small part. Portland is apparently the most environmentally friendly city in the USA and according to wiki second in the world. I’m not sure about that but It seems totally feasible after a days walk through one part of it.

I found a place for dinner at night and ordered pecan stuffed ravioli. Utterly amazing, best ravioli ever. Portland actually has many nicknames from “The City of Roses” to “PDX” to “Beervana” the last of which is because it’s home to many smaller beer brewing companies. The restaurant I had dinner at tonight had 7 different beers brewed in Oregon on the menu! Radness. I then headed to a show at a venue which was advertised as noise-rock. The bands were tight but just wasn’t feeling it at all so I left after 2 drinks and a few songs. I decided to headout and take some night photos of the bridges before I got home. Headed to the east side of the city only to get onto a road shared with lightrail. In Melbourne you can drive over the tracks, its a shared area and you treat trams as other cars unless indicated.

I was a bit weary about what lane to take but A car infront of me drove in the track lane so I followed him, he later turned off and then a cop car turned onto the street and pulled me over. Apparently it’s lightrail only in that lane. It was a female officer who was extremely helpful and nice. She asked me where I was going and where I was staying and explained I can’t drive in that lane at all, also advised me to go straight home because she smelt alcohol on my breath. So I decided to call it a night and when I got back there were 2 officers at my hotel making sure I was staying there. Pretty thorough huh.

Probably better to get those night shots on a clearer night, its still foggy and raining. Anyway enjoy the day shots;

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