Sunday, May 22, 2011

Keep Portland Weird

If you've ever spent any time in Portland, you will understand why you see these bumper stickers - Keep Portland Weird, all around town.   In fact, if you haven't seen it, check out Portlandia on IFC.  Yes, there are incredible gardens - the Rose Garden, Japanese garden, Chinese Garden, Powell's Books, incredible coffee, more microbreweries than any other city in the U.S. (yes, drink more beer), and incredible cuisine (Portland is a foodie city), but there are some things I noticed as being very unique.  
A little yard art
People are friendly and for a big city, this seemed unique to me.  Drivers are polite.  Portlanders read an average of 28 books per year.  It is noticeably not diverse though the people seem to be incredibly open-minded.  You don't have to pump your own gas!!   I think NJ has the same law but honestly there is nothing worse than being dressed for work and having to stop to pump your own gas, only to experience a splash or spill that sends you back home to change.
On a clear night - the balcony view from a highrise
 I also learned about treasure boxes, something I was told was totally unique to Portland.   Everyone has a mailbox but in Portland some people have an extra box called the treasure box.  The idea is to take something or put something in the box.  They are often decorative and expressive.  Here is one I spotted on the first day.  

I was so lucky to be there during their "spring."   It was already 80 degrees in Atlanta in early May so it was great to be able to experience an explosion of blossoms everywhere we went.  
The day that I left I was standing curbside, waiting for the cab to come take me to the airport.  I was crying which is something I don't do very often but I was so sad to leave my daughter.   A car drove past but stopped a few yards beyond, backed up and rolled down his window to ask, "Are you okay?  Is there anything I can do to help?"   What a novel be kind and helpful to others.   I just can't imagine someone being so thoughtful in Atlanta.  Not that they wouldn't notice.  I just don't think your average person would have expressed concern.

I will be back to share photos from the tulip festival and a few other pictures.   Wishing you a happy week.


  1. I have heard Portland is a great city. Never heard about the treasure boxes but what a fun and wonderful idea! I'm so glad you had a nice visit!

  2. We visited Portland very briefly about 20 years ago and I liked what little bit of it that I saw, very much.
    The Treasure Box idea is great, I wonder what weird and wonderful things people find it them?

  3. The Great Dane wants Portland to be his first road trip - mostly for the gardens and the street market. I'll have to read this to him!
    PS I think that people in the NW are somehow more easy-going and therefor more apt to demonstrate caring, like that man did.

  4. JOJO, I love this post and your amazing ability to seek and find the most beautiful parts of any experience to share with us.

    What a lovely idea to have Treasure Boxes! I wonder what my neighbors would think to see something like that go up beside my mailbox? I may have to try that.

    I SO empathize with your tears upon leaving your daughter. I'm very impressed and heartened that someone noticed and reached out to you.

    Now is the perfect time to thank YOU for reaching out to my daughter as she embarks on her new life in your area. Your generous offer of help is indicative of the soul of southern hospitality, and I'm most grateful and honored to know you.

    I hope to see you soon to share a cool drink and a warm hug.

  5. Glad you had such a lovely trip. Never heard of Treasure Boxes & not quite sure I understand what they are...but they do sound fun:) Glad you are home safe & sound.

  6. It is also a city that has many Art Gallery's....I have a good friend who lives there and Curates Art Shows for different gallery's all the time. He LOVES Portland! I love the idea of those "treasure boxes"......!
    Beautiful Beautiful pictures!!!

  7. It sounds like you've had a wonderful visit! Thanks for sharing your sweet daughter & her adventures. I'm sorry you were crying at your departure but I understand completely. That's why I live in cold, snowy Ohio instead of FL. :/

  8. Treasure boxes? I wonder if they would catch up in Phoenix?

  9. What a marvelous slogan!
    I need a t'shirt that says the same thing.... Keep Pamela Weird!

  10. Those were interesting facts about Portland. I've never been but it certainly sounds like a great city. It's always sad to leave a part of ourselves in another place. But I'm sure you'll make the trip as often as you can!

  11. I've never visited Portland but hope to someday. I look forward to learning more about it form your post, Jojo!

  12. I've just driven through Portland, never spent any time there. It sounds like a great place to visit. How kind strangers can be sometimes.

    I've been enjoying reading about your trip - especially the amazing camaraderie on the train ride!