Around Portland


The other day Lowe asked Ouest if she wanted to play photo booth. I’d never heard of this before, but within seconds he was dressing her up in boas and taking her picture. They played this for days, giggling the whole time. The pictures below are theirs, obviously.

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We’ve been trying to enjoy the great weather as much as possible lately. In Portland it can end at any time now, after which it will be gray and wet for six months.

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Hitting up a nearby brew pub with a friend. We go to this place not because the food is any good, or the beer is special in some way—no, we go because they have a children’s play area.

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Bridge City. My mom only lives about five minutes from downtown, but we don’t visit the city very often because the neighborhoods of Portland are so great on their own. But we decided to pop down there and show the kids a few of the sites anyway.

It’s funny—or sad if you look at it that way—that we’ve traveled the world, and spent years in Mexico with our kids, yet I’ve never felt as uncomfortable walking around with them as I did here in Portland. The homeless situation is completely out of control. Some 1,800 people spend each night on the streets here because the shelters are full. It’s a terrible problem. And I’m not saying that in a, “Oh, it’s a terrible problem for me,” kind of way. I’m saying it’s a terrible problem for the homeless. And unfortunately, where you find a lot of homeless you also find a lot of mental illness. It seemed that on every street we walked down we passed someone screaming obscenities at imaginary people, or couples cussing each other out on the brink of assault, or just sleeping on the sidewalk with no clothes on. Not fun while trying to show the kids around.

Portland is a great city, but it has some serious problems to contend with.

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This Keep Portland Weird sign is painted on the back of a club, right across the wall of a pay parking lot. I imagine the club owner thinks it’s hilarious that hundreds, if not thousands, of people a day walk into this parking lot and take their picture in front of it. Meanwhile, the guy working the parking lot spends his entire day chasing people off. He told us we couldn’t take a picture of it because it was private property. So we stepped backwards two steps and took our picture from the sidewalk. Then a car came in and he had to attend to them. While he did so a dozen people in three different groups walked right in and started to take pictures. Clearly, this guy has the worst job in Portland. Oh, and it’s also directly across the street from Voodoo Doughnuts, where a line forms around the block pretty much day and night.

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On this particular day we drove out to the Hood River area to pick some apples. Picking apples is kind of fun, and when you have a cart and a big box it’s also pretty hard to pick with any sort of self-control. We ended up with close to a hundred apples. It’s hard to even give away that many apples to friends and neighbors. They are darn good apples, though.

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Lowe taught himself how to levitate items between his hands. Kind of cool.

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Mount Hood.


And then we did visit a real photo booth a few days later. This happened.


17 Comments on “Around Portland”

  1. I agree with you so much about downtown and the homeless! I got exactly the same feeling this summer. I grew up in Oregon and Portland was at that time a logging town. Now with all the high tech industry, which has caused very high rent, etc. The people living off of these small salaries and pensions, just can not get buy. It is not their fault at all. My wife and I were really glad to leave downtown.
    PS: the boa just doesn’t do it for you.

  2. Another thing. At the airport in Hood River there is a fantastic museum with lots of old airplanes and cars, tractors and trucks. I discovered it by chance this summer.

  3. Portland is one of our favorite cities! The Saturday market there is the best! We wish we could afford to live there.

    We are wondering if the line at Voodoo’s ever goes away. It amazes us that people will wait for hours for a stupid doughnut.

    Mark & Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

  4. Vancouver, bc has the same problem with people living rough. The city is just too expensive. Stanley park has a lot of homeless people tenting in the forest. Small test cities are poppng up in the subburbs. A lot of drugs and mental illness goes with it too. Government cutbacks are part of the cause.

    1. It’s tough for people when they find themselves in unfortunate circumstances. Cities with milder climates always have more homeless people for the obvious reasons.

  5. My sister has lived downtown Portland for years, but is considering moving because she has to run a gauntlet of (often crazed and potentially) dangerous men to reach her apartment each day. She says it gets worse every day and she does not feel safe.

    PS: It is nice to see the occasional photo of you without a baseball cap, Pat!

    1. I got two new hats the other day and Ali questioned me, “Two?”
      I said, “Hey, I wear hats. It’s what I do.”
      She rolled her eyes and repeated sarcastically, “It’s what you do?”

  6. I know you couldn’t resist running the price per pound # on the apples (and they get you to pick them!)

  7. The Pioneer Square area of Seattle, where my office is located, has very much the same problem with roaming homeless and mentally ill folk. This area of downtown Seattle is also where many of the missions and social services agencies that try to help the folks get off the street are located, so it is an obvious magnet for them. Unfortunately, as someone else commented, any major city with a mild climate tends to attract those forced, by whatever circumstances, to live on the streets.

    And – I’ve got to guess “Grammie” has LOTS of recipes to use those apples up – applesauce, apple pie, apple bread, apple pancakes, apple butter, dried apple slices, etc. When you live in one of the major apple producing areas of the country you learn how to “preserve” them in dozens of ways!

  8. I was just in PDX visiting family and couldn’t believe how wonderful the weather was! You’re right about the homeless problem – my mom lives in downtown and you’re confronted with it every time you walk out of her building. They’re just aren’t enough shelters and resources to help everyone. Very sad.

  9. I know exactly what you mean about how uncomfortable you can feel walking around downtown in a city in the U.S. compared to a city in Mexico. My husband and I are currently traveling in Mexico & Central America and have been for the past 18 months. We remark on that same feeling all the time… especially after a visit back home. We definitely prefer to walk around in Mexico… and we can never understand why people who have never even been to Mexico before are convinced that it is so dangerous! We love life here 🙂

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