Some basics of me living Portland   Leave a comment

Portland, OR was founded by two people, one from Portland, Maine and one from Boston, Massachusetts. Both wanted to name this new city in Oregon after their hometown, and it was a flip of a coin that coined Portland, Oregon. I previously talked a little bit about things being in the northwest or southwest, and I wanted to explain that a little like Chicago, Portland is on a grid system. Fortunately, their grid system is easier to figure out than using the city block coordinate numbers like Chicago. Here, they actually just use literally the letters NW, NE, SW, SE in front of the street names to denote where in the grid you are.

Also useful is that they bring the numbers more to the forefront. While in Chicago you had to always look at the numbers underneath the street names that were words, here in Portland all the streets that run north/south all use numbers that radiate from the meeting point (Burnside divides north and south and the Willamette river divides west and east). 

So now when I say I live in SW Portland, you know what I actually mean. I don't live that far south of Burnside though- close enough in fact that although by the grid system I live in the SW, by the neighborhood I basically live in, the Goose Hollow neighborhood, I am still considered to be living in a northwest Portland area. The main things I have to characterize where I live when I describe it to people is

1) the Goose Hollow Inn, which is this neighborhood bar/restaurant which I have been told has an excellent reuben sandwich. You know you're in Portland because not only is there a meat version but also a vegetarian version. The founder of this pub used to hear about people's woes and worries so much that the story goes that he decided to do something about it and ran for Mayor– and was the mayor for 8 years. The family still runs the place.

2) This is also close to PGE Park. This would be like living by Wrigley Field, except Portland doesn't really have any major sports teams or say, even any known sports teams outside the local area (ok, the University of Oregon Ducks being the recent latest exception). Not only that, but it's a park that not only hosts football (Portland State Vikings), but also minor league baseball (the Beavers) and soccer (Timbers), and are available for various other high school and college level teams as well. So, it's an all-purpose stadium. So, it's not at all like the kind of atmosphere you would find at Wrigley, though it does have similar age occupants and housing options in the neighborhood compared to Lakeview.

3) The Tri-met Max (light rail- they run on the roads here alongside the cars) stop here and then start going through a several mile run through tunnels of the West Hills. In other words, I'm living just where the big hills start. I literally can look up and see steeply sloping streets going up the Hills and houses built on what looks like foresty cliffs.

When I go to work in Beaverton, I have to go west, past the hills, and into the suburb of Beaverton where I then walk through a campus almost like a college campus to my building. Door to door, it's about 45 minutes- 6 minutes to walk to the Max stop, and then another 6 minutes from that Max stop to the doors of my building. I usually don't have to wait long for a train. One thing I've noticed is that every stop actually has a map with times all day so you can see how long until the next Max train (or bus), and it has been mostly correct (maybe 1-2 minutes off) so far. Besides the schedule, I also like how every train station has an automated machine where you can purchase your ticket for one ride, multiple rides, or a monthly pass using your credit card.

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The only weird thing is that no one really checks your ticket on the Max when you get on. Once in a while someone will walk down the car asking to see your ticket and if you are not able to produce a valid ticket, you can be written a ticket for $115. But otherwise no one sees your ticket when you ride the Max. On the bus you show your ticket to the bus driver like you would on any other bus, but they don't have an automated reader or touch pass- they still use paper punched ticket when you pay in cash if you don't have a pass from a machine.

Well, that's enough about Portland for now. What have I been eating? I've been mostly making swiss cheese or peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and dinner. I attended a Chi-foo meeting (an association for those in my career line) on Wednesday and ate dinner at Nature's Harvest with other team members who were attending the same meeting. Nature's Harvest is similar to a Whole Foods, but their food court section is not quite up to par to what I've seen in LA yet.

I also tried two outposts of Thai restaurant chains that are famous in Portland. On Friday, I took my immediate team of interaction designers to Typhoon. This reminded me a lot like Vong's in Chicago, but with much better food because although it had been modernized to tastes here, it still tasted good and had recognizable good Thai taste. Can't say that about Vong's fusion food, in my opinion. Also, Typhoon has an extensive tea selection, which I really liked. Thanks to that lunch, I'll get to do my first expense report next week. I ordered a chef special, which was battered tilapia in a sticky sweet but spicy sauce with basil and bacon and chili fried rice. All it needed some ability to spritz  lime and it would have really been excellent.

Yesterday I also signed the lease to my apartment on the actual triplicate form at the office, and then went to an outpost of Thai Orchid, another chain based on Thai food here in Portland. I thought it was just ok- everything has a sweet taste to it rather then the complex taste it should have had combining more salt, sour, and spiciness. It just couldn't compare to Typhoon, which at least still brings those flavor profiles to the table, literally. I definitely want to try Typhoon again.

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Last night I also went with F to walk along Hawthorne. We walked all the way there, and Hawthorne is on the Southeast area. We walked up to basically 37th street in the SE grid and we started out at 16th street in the SW grid. Unfortunately we stopped at the first pub we came across, Roots, for a little taste of their beer. The Oregon Beavers were playing USC, so we watched the first quarter. I had a walking map of the street, and I also reviewed that and circled places I wanted to stop. When we started walking though, I naturally with my baby bladder had to stop at Safeway to go to the bathroom. Then, when we finally got to where the interesting things were (the walking map describes this neighborhood as similar to San Francisco's Haight district, but I have no comparison), everything closed at 6pm. So, we ended up killing time at the Bagdad Theater and Pub, where we caught a showing of Wall-E (yes, my 3rd time seeing it) for just $3 a ticket. I like the Bagdad because they have a little bar table in front of each row of theater seats for your beer (or wine) that you can enjoy during the movie. On the 2nd floor, they actually have a more loungey atmosphere with cushioned couches, loveseats, and chairs.

Despite not being able to see as much as I wanted on Hawthorne street, it was a fun walk (hopefully next time we will be a bit more efficient on time and also not walk all the way there). On our walk there, we crossed the Hawthorne bridge over the Willamette, which is a cool vertical lift bridge. The panoramic photo is not mine, it's from Wikipedia

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I also passed on Hawthorne some houses that cracked me up. The first one… I guess they really value their privacy, thus the bamboo forest in front. The other ones didn't even seem real- they look like playhouses to me.

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