Monday, October 3, 2011

The Top Ten Reasons Why...

Regular readers of my blog will already know that The Man and I are looking forward to retiring within the next few years. He's had more than enough time working for the steel industry, and a job that gets him up at 4:00 in the morning and not home until 5:30 pm on a good day. But beyond the need to stop slaving for big industry is the soul's cry (his and mine) for something more fulfilling: we crave a new adventure. We are long past due for a big change. Change can be scary, change can intimidate. But it also beckons with the promise of new riches, new inspiration. Places to go, people to meet, ideas to hear, new colors and textures to life. Who is satisfied with waiting for change to come and get you? That sort usually involves something unpleasant, something out of control, maybe something on the road to breakdown. 

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.

Just fun!

Saturday Market

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.)


to kayaks...

to Segways!

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

Multnomah Falls

Mount Hood

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?


  1. wow, cheryl! makes me want to move even closer in to portland...(i'm in close in sw) i fell in love with this city the first time i came here... and that was in '79. i've been away and back...when i was living in france i always said if i have to leave paris i want to go back to portland... there is just something about this city. and i'm here to stay!

  2. Not fair! You're making me (almost) want to move! 'Course I'm in downstate IL, so I understand at least one of your reasons for such a choice.

    Yup. You could definitely write for the tourist board. Or be their photographer. Go get 'em, girl!

  3. i love this feels so so energized....
    i want you to go tomorrow!, or maybe even this
    evening. you and your man's jackets will be
    perfect there...
    oh...GO!....don't wait, GO!

  4. Wow! This post was such a lovely trip to this artsy dream city without leaving my computer! A girl in my Art and Soul painting class mentioned that the Flying Elephant Deli is what she misses most about Portland since she moved away. There were also some VooDoo doughnuts offered at one lady's table at the A and S demo table. She said she bought it cuz she loves the pretty pink box. You know how mixed media artists think! The doughnut flavors were insanely creative too.
    You've got gourmet taste in choosing Portland as your next place to live. Thank you for sharing your visual proof of what a cool place Portland is!

  5. Very interesting post for me to read. My husband is from Portland, but came east to attend Cornell (in 1965) and never moved back. He sometimes longs to move back to the area, and I am interested.

  6. I was so excited to find your blog. Love your artwork. I found you through Jan Davenport's site. Haven't taken a class from her yet but she is on my list. We are around the same age, that was exciting for me because it seems like every site I go on they are so young. Art Journaling and Painting are fairly new to me. I'm loving it.
    I live 3 hrs south of Portland in a small town on The beautiful So. Umpqua Rive. I love Portland and could not have explained it better. It is a fabulous town and I go every chance I can. We will never leave here but if something ever happened, I would move there in a heartbeat.
    Wish you great luck on your move. I was born in Duluth and we went there a lot when I was growing up. Way too cold for my taste.