Portland is happening now


I couldn’t help it.

When I started seeing the adorable and fascinating illustrated “Portland is Happening Now” posters as far back as in the fall of 2013 when I took the SkyTrain, I was drawn to the campaign and wanted to visit the city I last visited in 2009.

In the fall of 2014, I met someone who relocated to and stayed in Portland, a musician for whom the city with its indie scene and hipster and counterculture is a perfect fit. But then when everyone is counterculture, wouldn’t I looking straight-laced and unafraid to be so be refreshingly counter-counterculture? Touché?

Now, I am hyperaware of what’s going on in that vibrant city south of us, as I’m wont to be, and why not?  For Vancouverites, it is a reasonable road trip destination being within a five-hour drive. During the Black Friday that just passed, we debated about making a day trip to Portland or just spending the four days in the Seattle area-we went with the latter but agreed our interest in re-visiting Portland is certainly piqued.

I was last in Portland in 2008 for the marathon and then in 2009 for Black Friday shopping. Sad to say, I wasn’t enthralled by the city back then but we obviously didn’t participate in the culture that is so charming nor were we particularly accepting of it. Instead, we thought the food truck area seemed grubby, Chinatown was disappointingly virtually non-existent, we weren’t impressed with the brand that is Voodoo Donuts (or the donuts themselves) and beer wasn’t a big part of the guys’ lives yet. We have since matured and will explore the city better. I did find myself enjoying the scenery during the marathon and it is still my best time so I hold that whole visit dear.

How else did the city (and state) make it on our radar in the past year? Both legalization of gay marriage and cultivation of marijuana for non-medicinal use were passed. That’s really cool.

In the summer, when I didn’t win tickets to the premiere of If I Stay, I listened to the audio version. (It’s not the type of book I want to actually read.) The backdrop and characters paint a picture of Portland, Oregon and the surround area from the accident in snowy Clackamas County to Mia’s aging former punk parents and the rock and classical musical scene Mia and Adam move in.

It turns out there is a sketch comedy series that wrapped their fourth season called Portlandia. I watched an episode on Netflix and I’m not a fan of the comedy style. Yet, I do believe that means the city has arrived.

A recent BBC Documentary Archive podcast revealed Portland as the epicenter of a karaoke movement in a piece called, “Karaoke as Art?” [mp3]. In the piece, the narrator listed Portland’s attributes: “What is Portland famous for? Well, as I’m finding out: rain, hipsters, coffee, more rain, street food – delicious street food – rain, indie music, microbreweries, rose garden, cycling, karaoke and – stripping.” I am eager to visit because it seems like such an inspiring place. Like ideal for a writing retreat, if I were in a position to go on one.

Then the most recent piece I’ve come across and inspired me to post about the city: a Brit + Co article “Move Over, SF + NYC – These Cities Are Gonna Be Big in 2015”. As I scrolled through the list where Portland is the fifth on the list, I knew it was coming up.

We’ll be back in 2016 at latest because I’m doing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series Cascadia Trio that year. There is now a “necessity” to make a pilgrimage to visit microbreweries such as Rogue and Deschutes. I’ll not cheap out and visit the Portland Japanese Garden next time. And we’ve heard about the spectacular beauty of Cannon beach and the coastal drive and I would like to see it for myself.


Images from http://www.travelportland.com/about-us/portland-happening-now/

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