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Friday, July 22, 2005


Day two: Portland

Finally, I got to visit Portland in the summer. My previous visits here were both in December, and I found it to be — like many places in America at that time of year — cold, damp, and unpleasant.

Summertime is a different story entirely. Sure, it threatened rain for a while, but most of the drops evaporated before they hit the ground, leaving wispy traces in the sky. (According to the weatherman, this phenomenon is called virga. Fascinating.) For the most part, the weather is warm, breezy, and pleasantly humid.

We spent much of the day among the Pearl district’s old warehouses, repurposed as cafes, shops, and ad agencies. I made a pit stop at REI to pick up some small camping items, and found it to be the nicest REI store I’ve ever seen, with ridiculously helpful staff. The neighborhood even charmed me into entering a hipster Portland barber shop, where I got my first haircut in about six months. Susan, at Rudy’s on 13th Avenue, did an awesome job.

My favorite part of the Pearl, though, was the buildings. We don’t see a lot of brick structures in California, and I miss them.

Crane Bldg. Crane Bldg. detail Pearl District and Fremont Bridge Pearl District lamp

For fans of The Simpsons, it’s worth noting that the east-west streets in this part of Portland (hometown of Matt Groening) include (neighbor) Flanders, (bully) Kearney, (Reverend) Lovejoy, and (Mayor) Quimby. Excellent.

I forgot to mention yesterday that the entries from this trip introduce a little technical innovation to the blog: Clicking on any photo will show you an enlargment in a pop-up window.