Crazy Adventures

Adventures in Portlandia

Last week I found a cheap ticket to Portland on the ultra-low-cost Spirit Air (77 dollars round trip!) and impulsively decided to fly to Portland for a weekend with my new travel buddy, Tom.

Portland was by far the strangest city I’ve ever visited and that’s saying a lot (I’ve lived in New York city, Tokyo, San Francisco and I currently live in Las Vegas).  In the three days I was there, I:

* Rode the tram with a man wearing a pink tutu, basketball shorts and a fake afro

* Sat in a bar next to a ninja turtle and a man dressed like a superhero (complete with a mask and cape)

* Met a Jimmi Hendrix impersonator

* Met a college kid who was running a unicorn food truck that sold fantasy animal meat made out of among other things, kale (in addition to Unicorn, he also served Griffin, Dragon and Dinosaur).

* Shared a dorm room with a homeless masseuse who’d ridden in from Seattle on his unicycle.  He’d spent the past three weeks living in a park down by the waterfront.

Portland  is known as the “the city where young people and hipsters go to retire”.   Apparently, despite the lack of job growth, unemployed 20-somethings continue to move there, making Oregon, according to NPR, one of only 12 states where the majority of its residents are from someplace else.  According to an article in Slate magazine, the flood of new residents Portland receives each year is what accounts for the city’s  higher-than-average unemployment rate.   There just aren’t enough jobs to accommodate everyone.  Judging from the number of bearded, ski-cap-wearing white guys I saw sitting at the local coffeehouses at noon on a Friday, I’d say that was true.  The only person I saw wearing a business suit in the three days I was there, was the Japanese tourist staying in my hostel.

Here’s an exert from a Slate magazine article by Taylor Clark

that I thought summed up Portland nicely:

“You can venture into public dressed like a convicted sex offender or a homeless person, and no one looks at you askew. It’s lush and green. Housing is affordable, especially compared with Seattle or San Francisco. The people are nice. The food is good. Creativity is the highest law. For young, hip Portlanders, financial success is a barista job that subsidizes your Romanian-space-folk band or your collages of cartoon unicorns.”

At the famed “Voodoo Doughnut” shop, you can buy donuts shaped like joints, male genitalia or a maple syrup and bacon covered donut like the one pictured here.

Me doing my best impression of a hipster. I bought the sunglasses and hat at the “Saturday Market” at the riverfront

The video below is an episode from the series “Portlandia”.  It pokes fun at how everyone in Portland seems to be living in the 90’s (plaid lumberjack shirts, anyone?).…&h…

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5 thoughts on “Adventures in Portlandia

  1. Spent a week and a day in Portland this past July and I have to say it’s a pretty incredible city. I live right across the Hudson River from Midtown Manhattan so I know what NYC is like and Portland wins by a long shot. There’s a great community of people who respect each other, for the most part, and are super creative. There’s a lot of support here because I think most people understand that we’re all weird and we all bring something crazy and unique to the table. I met some lifelong buddies out there who I still talk to and I actually had plans to move out there and be one of the many unemployed young adults there after my move to Hawaii fell through. But currently I’m looking to go to college in North Carolina so plans to move to Portland are being put on hold. This probably means that by the time I get out there rent will be comparable to that of NYC. UGH! But anyway! Great blog! You really nailed it! The food trucks are pretty amazing.

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  3. @ David – Yeah, I hope to live in Portland one day too. I can totally see myself retiring there and being one of the crazy old ladies who rides her bike to the bakery each morning. I also think it could be a great place to raise kids. Imagine growing up in such a creative, open-minded environment? The only downside to Portland is the rain and the fact that for the most part, it’s pretty homogeneous. Apparently it’s one of the ‘whitest’ cities in the US.

    What are you going to be studying in college? And it’s just as well your move to Hawaii fell through…there are no jobs there at the moment and it’s SUPER duper expensive (I’m from there and actually moved back there last year to look for work…no such luck).

  4. @Reannon Yes! I read your post about Hawaii. It’s a shame really that it’s so difficult to live out there. When I wasn’t WWOOFing I was sleeping on beaches and benches on Kauai before I realized that that was not how I wanted to live. I was there for a month. Portland is definitely very homogeneous and that kind of irked me a bit, but when I got there everyone was so open-minded that it kind of made up for that fact. I can definitely see Portland becoming even more diversified in the future. And as far as rain, I love it! You know Hawaii was worse off when it came to that anyway.

    If this school in NC falls through I’ll definitely be moving up my move date to Portland. I’m planning on studying theology and music but I also want to do WAAAY more traveling during school and after school. I’m using Pimsleur right now to learn some basic Spanish as I really want to head down to Patagonia overland at some point in the near future.

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