Tour of Portland

Hello readers. Thank you for all the positive feedback to my last entry. In response, I've written this entry to give you my impressions of Portland after about 3 weeks of vandwelling here. I've shrunken the images on this entry since there are a ton of them, but as usual, by clicking on them, you can see the full picture in a new window.

ABOVE: A view of downtown Portland from the Burnside Bridge. Portland is known for its many bridges and the Burnside Bridge provides a conduit into the heart of downtown. It's always scenic and windy up there. There's a sidewalk for pedestrians and a lane for cyclists, but sometimes these asshole cyclists come flying down the sidewalk anyway. Why?

ABOVE: The green space along the river. Portland is famous for its abundant green space. The whole river walk area is really gorgeous and pedestrian/cyclist friendly. On weekends, this area becomes a big craft/food fair, with live music, street performers, and a beer garden.

ABOVE: One of the many walkways along the river to encourage outdoor recreation and walking/cycling commuting. May is Bike to Work month in Portland. One of the events includes the city giving free breakfast to cyclists.

ABOVE: World-famous Powell's Bookstore, which I mentioned before on this blog as being the biggest used bookstore in the world (supposedly). You literally can get in lost inside it.

ABOVE: Downtown Portland has these funny water fountains that are always spouting water, without any prompting by a potential drinker. What's with these? Why are they always running? Is that more hygienic or something? Is it just because it looks cool? Or is it Portland's way of boasting about how damn wet this climate is? If you know, please post below.

ABOVE: The endearing food trucks (or carts, whatever) of downtown Porltand. They sell delicious food at low prices.

ABOVE: Plaid Pantry. They're all over the place. They're the 7-11 of the Pacific Northwest.

ABOVE: The Laurelhurst Movie Theater, in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. Note the great coincidence that as I took that picture of the vintage movie theater sign, a vintage yellow car rolled up to the traffic light. Laurelhurst is a fun old-school neighborhood with bars, coffee shops, music/book stores, and so on. The Laurelhurst Theater shows slightly older movies at a discount price. And you can drink beer and order pizza while you're watching.

ABOVE: Laurelhurst park.

ABOVE: I took this picture to show what most of the houses look like in the neighborhoods farther from downtown. I don't know how you'd describe them in proper architectural terminology, so here I go: they're typically low and wide, with big porches, big gardens, and a kind of chaotic, dilapidated look to them. It's great. That's how yards should be. Of course, there are also some stupid-looking houses with senseless amounts of grass, just like anywhere, but they seem to be in the minority.

ABOVE: Fred Meyer's - the Wal Mart of Portland. If you go around 9 PM, they slash the prices of their hot food by 50%. You can get a full hot dinner for 3 or 4 bucks. I've gone a few times for this, joining the crowd of other dinner-bargain-hunters. Its like a weird happy-hour of supermarket dining.

ABOVE: The Hawthorne neighborhood strip. In taking this photo I realized how difficult it is to take pictures of a street. You'll just have to trust me that it's a cool strip of bars and restaurants that seems to make overtures to college-aged people. It's the closest hub to where I've been parked. This is where I go at night when I want to get a beer. There's also a smaller Powell's here for book-browsing.

ABOVE: Rosie the cat, looking pensively toward the Portland skyline from my brother's apartment.

ABOVE: I hadn't showed the interior of the van in awhile, so I thought I would. I strung up an extra line to dry my gym clothes. I've kept the van parked more or less in the same spot since I've been here (with 2 or 3 voyages to my brother's neighborhood) and nobody has bothered me. I've been able to get my drinking water from my brother; I'm not sure where all the other RVers and van-dwellers get it (I haven't seen any of those 25 cent/per gallon vending machines like in the southwest). I also don't know where they go to dump waste, but since there are so many people living in vehicles, there must be some place.

I had been burning candles in the van to combat the moisture level (which may only combat it on the psychological level, but so be it) until I mentioned this to my friend Kate, and she said, "Dude, don't fucking burn candles in the van!" and alerted me to the very depressing health hazards of parafin (google it yourself to learn more). So now I'm in the market for beeswax candles.

Also, for people who follow van-dwelling, there's an important bill underway in Maine that will seriously curtail vehicle-living. Some people are afraid it will set a precedent for laws in other states: http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=255609&ac=PHnws

If you read that article, it basically sides with the bill, and portrays the campground owners as these pitiful business owners who have been unfairly harmed by Walmarts and whatnot. It doesn't describe how disgusting and overpriced most of these RV parks are, nor does it question WHY many campers might choose a parking lot over a campground (because RV parks are disgusting and overpriced). I know some RV parks are family businesses... I'd like to see them thrive, but they've got to come to their senses, and change the way they run their campgrounds if they want to draw in the modern frugal RVer.

Anyway... this is only a snippet of Portland. I'll keep taking photos and do another entry soon. Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

asshole cyclist here, FU!

T said...

Thanks for the great post and pictures, I'm enjoying them a lot, as I've always wondered about Portland, the progressive place I hear it is.
Great eye for observation you got JM, (stopped "seeing" my #ss). Oh and that angry biker who commented before me, how great that he illustrated your point for you, so perfectly, right here in your blog!
Hey JM, how do you make those small pics which click into larger ones? I need that function on my blog.
When I come to Portland I will partake in the weird bargain dinner activities as well, sounds delightful!
Whatever you do, keep going, I'm interested in seeing where you end up next.

Anonymous said...

Hi T,

Thanks for the feedback. As for the small pics... I'm not sure. When I open the 'insert pics' menu it options small/medium/large. The fact that they link to the original file seems to be a blogspot thing.

What's your blog?


Olivia said...

I think the architecture of those houses is maybe called Arts and Crafts, like from the Arts and Crafts Movement http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arts_and_Crafts_movement which I never really understood. <3 you Justin! Have fun in Portland!

MsBelinda said...

I really enjoyed your write up of life in Portland as well as the pictures.

On the waste disposal issue, when on the road I tend to go either early in the morning or late at night to washateria's when there is few if any people and dump in their bathrooms.

Stay safe and keep those posts coming.

December said...

I've been living in a van in Portland for 3 months... could you maybe suggest some good places to sleep? I can't find anywhere that's not in front of houses AND quiet. Everywhere that isn't residential has almost freeway-like traffic from 6-9am,or screaming drunks tearing through the streets at 2:30am, and I've also been harassed by drunks, parked with their headlights on me for 30 minutes while they got out and skateboarded all around me and knocked on the wall before they finally got bored and left. And I've been noticing more and more cops spotlighting me while driving and creeping back and forth checking me out when I park.
So, please, I have not been able to get any feedback on this from anyone and I have no choice to live this way because I'm disabled and SSDI pays enough to get an apartment... IF ANY of the rent-assistance programs were even open at all. I'm so behind on sleep, waste so much money driving all over this city, and still haven't found any peace of mind, or anywhere I feel safe and can actually sleep through the night.
Thank you,
Love and Light

oh, yeah... my disability is Tourette's Syndrome, a movement disorder that causes me facial and other motor tics. Most police that have ever talked to me think they are certain I'm on drugs because I 'twitch' and every time I've gotten on a plane here they pull me out of line and search through every millimeter of all my things and make me miss my flight because they are so suspicious of me because of how my illness makes me look. This is why I want to feel very certain that where I'm parked won't attract them, because it is such a hassle to constantly be accused of being on drugs and having strangers with guns rifling through all of my things, touching my underwear and everything! And they find nothing, but wasted a lot of my time and make me feel like I have no right to any freedom of privacy.