This year, instead of subjecting ourselves to the nausea-inducing New Year’s Eve cliche, chronically single best friends Ryann and I embarked on a road trip to change our lives and get us away from the typical. We headed up to Portland, enduring countless hours in a car with blinking “check engine” lights, and my resolution to tweet from every public restroom in 2012. We laughed at town names and populations like “Arbuckle” and “Weed” and barely slowed down when pitch white fog made the cars in front of us impossible to see.
We are young, invincible, living on very little street smarts, lots of credit cards, caffeine and memories. We’ve know each other this way since we were 19, but she lives in New York now, so the time we get to spend together is even more precious and delirious.
We had a college buddy who used to throw great parties and dress as Mark Summers or Facebook for Halloween. Garrett lives in Portland, and opened his spacious, many-windowed apartment in the industrial district to us. I don’t think he was quite expecting the girl explosion that he and his classically awkward roommate were subjected to during our stay (“how is it possible that so much hair comes off you in the shower? why are there so many clothes?”) but they were gracious and showed us the best of times.
I loved many a thing about this unexpected Northwest city….specifically…
10. Had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee….and in all directions for miles with no end. This might be one of the big deterrents to Oregon…the crap weather. But for a California girl, it is romantic, it is an adventure, it requires rain boots, which I LOVE to wear. The rain was more like constant mist. You could NOT use an umbrella, or you would be stoned and jeered (I have heard). I enjoyed the cold, but not too cold. It required scarves, which white people love. And its an excuse to dress in sweats, which I always want to, and to cuddle, which I always want to.
9. Signage/public transportation – Some places I visit feel like they are so uninterested in outsiders and tourism, that they have no street signs whatsoever. You have to hunt for information on how to get around. Portland has major signage and helpfulness when it comes to its intricate and yet easy to understand public transportation, and when driving your car. I loved the free and cheap ways to get around, the people working the buses were very friendly, and it was all quite clean.
8. Lack of fashion – There is a total lack of or denial of basic fashion trends. The 90s are alive and kicking in Portland, including but not limited to: overalls without irony, Doc Martens, angry black trench coats, mohawks, fanny packs, all things Northface, and more! You can wear all your Nirvana flannels and Timberlands, and bring an extra hoodie in your Jansport. You will fit right in. Don’t forget to wear socks with your Tevas or Chacos.
7. Composting/Sustainability – Recycling everything you come into contact with in eight different ways is not only suggested in Portland, its the LAW. It is illegal to not recycle your belly button lint. They are super green and organic and you can be the weirdest weirdo with any kind of allergy you want, there is a restaurant for you. You can even meet and greet the free-range, organic, socialist chicken and all her friends that you are about to eat for dinner. Her name
is was Susie and she loved to play Jenga with all the other chicks.
6. Uncroweded, undiscovered vibe – Unlike cities like San Fran, San Diego, Chicago or New York, Portland has an undiscovered, laid-back vibe. Nothing ever felt like a “tourist trap” and the uncrowded streets felt almost unnatural. In what other city can a group of four friends fit side-by-side on a sidewalk? We saw a few out-of-towners, especially at places like Powells where they are easily identified, but mostly it felt like this was just everyone’s home, and you were welcome to it. Chill to the max.
5. Spectacles bringing sexy back – Normally, I feel like my glasses make me invisible. Especially at the gym, I can watch a guy look me down and up, and stop at my glasses and become immediately unattracted to me. But in Oregon, the girl in glasses can be the hot girl! One in three people wear my style o specs, and I feel like I’m in the “in.”
4. Local vibe – Yes, there are strip malls of your Old Navys, Borders, and various outlet stores outside the city, where people take advantage of Oregon’s sweet lack of sales tax. But inside, I saw nary a Starbucks or Forever XXI or Macy’s. Everyone has their own local coffee shop, brunch stop, bar, and strip club. All with clever names like the vegan spot we went to that was named “and” but the sign was “&.” Yeah. An ampersand. They hand out cards that say “Supportlandia!” where you can get discounts for shopping local. Cute.
3. Food and food carts – We ate our way through Portland. Some awesome restaurants with fantastic proportions, but food carts rule the city and make it quite unique. A restaurant on wheels, each one specializes in something yummy, like grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries, or fried pies of all kind. But don’t expect anything to be “quick” about food in Portland. They have a completely different sense of time. We got some sandwiches made at a grocery store, and it took 35 minutes. Delish, but slo-o-oooow.
2. Breweries and cafes – Along with the food comes the drink.Oregon loves its beer and to brew its own varieties, as well as local coffee flavor. We tasted quite a few, and went to at least two different bars or pubs every day. I loved how outdoors-minded they were. Lots of fire pits, jukeboxes, funky artwork, and lumberjacks for bartenders. Yes, please.
1. Nature – Undeniably the best part about Oregon is the Morther Earth and beauty that surrounds it. Portland has rivers, volcanoes, mountains, hills, gorges, waterfalls just begging to be explored. On New Years Eve, we took a hike up these waterfalls that plunged almost 700 feet back down to the ground. To feel the cool air rushing into my lungs, blood pumping through my veins through 11 switchbacks, bright green moss marking our trail…it was a beautiful way to close out an eventful year.
All in all, I highly recommend. And of course, what made the trip so awesome were the crazy friends, old and new, that shared the journey with me.
I miss you Portlandia! You were all I wanted and more. I can’t wait until we meet again.