We want to choose our highway, and so we are planning. We are seeking this big move in both attitude, and in longitude and latitude. We have explored our options and have settled on the Rose City, Portland, Oregon. What could possibly be bad about a place that celebrates the fabled flower of romance? So why else Portland? (It rains a lot, you know? Yes, we've heard. But in reality no more than it rains where we live now. Have you ever lived with the extravagant weather of the South Shore of Lake Michigan? Wind, rain, ice, snow, humidity, tornadoes, oh, and of course, sunshine, which Portland has, too.)
But why this spot in the Pacific Northwest above anywhere else in this broad and varied county? I could go on for days about the positive experiences we've had on our three trips to the frontier, but let's just say: when you know, you know. There is a personality to a place. It either embraces you or it doesn't. And this one welcomes us more broadly every time we return.
So in no particular order of rank, how about my top ten list of why I'm sooo ready to move to Portland:
1. Size Matters. I have always wanted to live in a downtown neighborhood of a chosen city, be surrounded by the the culture, just walk out my door and fall into life, yet not get lost in the noise, the dark of the high rise canyons, the overwhelming energy of the larger metropolis, like our current closest, Chicago. Portland is sized to human scale. (And we love how close the airport is.)
|Sampling fresh baked croissants and more. Hairnets required.|
|Portland Walking Tours: Epicurean Excursion|
|We attended cooking school for local farmers market cuisine.|
|A favorite deli from past trips has a new outpost.|
|Silk, a Vietnamese restaurant in the Pearl District.|
2. Feed Me. Now that I'm here, I need places to eat. Interesting and varied cuisines abound, farmer's markets pretty much every day of the week, cooking classes, micro breweries, wineries, chocolatiers. Artisan is a word with integrity here.
|Drinking "Fresh Laundry" at McCormick and Schmick's|
|A Latin beat, and couples are up dancing.|
3. Party Hearty. We appreciate that that when people have places to gather and a town with civic pride, all sorts of gatherings for the purpose of a good time will arise. And this is not only for the young. Families and singles, young and older, locals and tourists, all find planned and spontaneous entertainment around every corner.
4. Hitchin' a Ride (on public transit).I have lived in and visited cities all my life, and used subways, trains and buses from Toronto to Philly to DC. Where I live now, they pretty much don't understand the concept; Portland, outstanding transit system.
|Outside the Portland Art Museum|
|The Oregon Symphony prepares to play a free concert in the river front park.|
5. Cultcha'. All sorts, from free symphony that we happened on in the Tom McCall waterfront park, to Latin quartet on a public plaza in the middle of town, to fantasy auto shows at the art museum, quilts at the Japanese gardens, Saturday market crafters, Voodoo Donuts (a touristy but wonderfully fun institution of sugary badness.)
6. River and Bridges. The romance of water and a way to cross over. In Chicago it's a lake that looks like the ocean. Here a river called the Willamette fits the scale of the city. I grew up in Philly and the gritty industrial areas and rail yards are a part of what defines city for me. But here they decided to move the road and make that waterfront accessible for recreation. A big loop of exercise and possibilities.
|View of downtown from the East bank.|
|View of downtown from the West Hills.|
7. Hills and Views. It's a little like San Fran, built on hills. Mt. Hood watches over, and if you are located on higher ground, you can see all the way past Mt. St. Helen's to Mt. Rainer. Now that's a view you can boast about! So many wonderful attractions on the West Hills--zoo, rose gardens, forested parks.
8. Fit, Active and Attractive. The population that is. Almost seem like another species when compared to home. Oh, and way more laid back. The airport experience alone tells the tale before you even set foot out the door. And when you do, the air will be sweeter and feel cleaner. No lie.
9. Ideas into Action. Fitness here is more than a personal philosophy. It also pertains to making society a better place. Civic involvement in creating a positive future is on display around every corner. It's like a workshop for the rest of the country to get a taste of the possibilities. Watch us, we're willing to try the grand experiments. The excitement is palpable.
|The Columbia River Gorge at Crown Point|
|Wine Country in the Willamette Valley|
|The Oregon Coast near Yachats|
10. It's in Oregon! One of the most beautiful states in the nation, with an embarrassment of riches, it boggles the mind--mountains, rivers, oceans, fertile valleys, wildlife. A retirement playground with abundant variety.
I'm going to need a little extra income to support that city lifestyle. Do you think the tourism board needs any help?