Portland: Meh

I mentioned a couple posts back that Portland has been on our wish-list since the very beginning of our adventures. After putting down roots in Denver, we were always a little concerned that we'd eventually get a chance to live in Portland and wish we had held out. Our concern was unnecessary.

Portland wasn't the magical utopia other visitors, my exaggerated expectations, and Portlandia promised me it would be.

To be sure, it was a neat place. It seems like a great city to live in; a high-quality place to try new things and meet other healthy people; a great home for harder to please millennials who aspire to higher things than making babies and $$$. I assume if I lived there any period of time instead of just nearby, I'd find nuanced aspects to appreciate and write about. I'd fall in love like I've done with every place we've been. BUT, from the couple visits we made, I wasn't blown away; far from it. Our first visit sucked.

International Rose Garden
Aside from being spoiled and having visited and lived in some of the best cities in the country, I think the reason Portland didn't meet my expectation is that the city is no longer the outlier its reputation is built on. There is a revolution of sorts going on across the country, down through the rustbelt and even in our home base of Johnson City, TN. It's a very tame revolution that involves mainly microbreweries, anarchist bookstores, shared spaces, and tea shoppes; but to some extent it also involves things that matter more like veganism, tolerance, and opposition to progress traps. Portland has accomplished a lot on those fronts, but other cities are catching up.

It's a dumb example, but I'm going to use it: Portland has around 58 breweries while Denver has around 52. Six breweries don't make a noticeable difference, particularly when you think Denver beer is better. Make something besides IPAs, Portland!

This example applies nicely to other progress indicators like the number of people biking to work, art funding, public transportation, parks, environmental awareness, dog-friendliness, and libertarian law. When the numbers are this close, Portland becomes less attractive. It wasn't as clean as Dallas. It
was less photogenic than Chicago. It had less concerts, festivals, and exhibits of interest during the three months we were here than Denver. The food was better in Seattle and San Francisco. The weather is better in dozens of other places. Need I go on?

View before taking the tram
Unless Portland bans gas powered cars, creates a meat-free dining district, builds a vacuum-tube train to San Diego, or does something completely new, it's going to level out with every other decent city. This is probably a good thing for the rest of us since we all can't live in Oregon, but disappointing for someone like me who expected too much.

For anyone that loves Portland and thinks I just went to the wrong places or tried the wrong things, here is some of what we did (what I really liked in bold): Mississippi Neighborhood food truck area and Home Smoker Vegan BBQ, Ecliptic Brewing, Hawthorn District, Clinton-Division, Hiked T4, Rocky Butte, Washington Park, Rose Garden, Sizzle Pie, explored downtown, drove through Alberta Arts, Waterfront, Rogue Tap House, Saturday Market, Cloud City Ice-Cream, Portland Cider House, Rovente Pizzeria, and various coffee shops. If we visit again, we'll probably bike more and stick to the Mississippi neighborhood.