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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 19, 2004 10:41 PM. The previous post in this blog was Cool down time. The next post in this blog is They've outdone themselves this time. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Sunday, September 19, 2004

What I miss

Just got back from a fine four-day trip that showed how great the Northwest can still be. Flew to a small city, where it seemed like only 20 steps from the arrival gate to our luggage, which was already on the carousel waiting for us. And then another 20 steps to the car rental counter, and another 20 to the car itself.

An hour's drive from the airport, you hit the place where the urbs and suburbs stop, and the mountains, forests, and lakes begin. From there you could go many more hours before serious civilization was encountered. We stayed at a rustic, family-run resort, so friendly and well managed that it felt like you were staying at your grandmother's house. No phone service of any kind, no TV. We ate the trout right out of the lake, some smoked, some battered and fried. Huckleberry pancakes with the local fruit. The air was crisp and clean, the water clear and very cold, the northern night sky filled with stars beyond counting.

I couldn't help but think, This is how Portland used to feel to me, 26 years ago. And for the first time in all those years, I felt more at home on vacation than I did when I returned to PDX.

Comments (20)

A long way from Cortland Alley.....

Huckleberries and trout? No phone or t.v.? Sounds like you were in N. Idaho. One of the great vacation areas. And skiings not even open yet.

you want a portland that had a segregated N/NE section?

you want a portland that accepted street walkers on 10 miles of Union avenue?

you want a portland that sat back and didn't plan for the expansion on the west side so we have a 2 lane road to hillsboro?

you want a portland that thought about, but never finished the cascade freeway that would include SE portland in the master plan?

just wondering

Wake up, friend. All those great improvements were 30 years ago. Everything that's been decided in the last 10 has been for the worst.

Again, as with your previous post about losing the neighborhood markets, this is PRECISELY why I moved away from P-town after living there for about 10 years.
I can say that Newport Or is still small and comfortable, especially in the winter when the 60 mile an hour winds and rain scare away the tourists. We lived there the winter of 01-02 on our way out of Oregon.
And I agree with the commenter who recommended Idaho. Let me add Montana (where I now reside) to the list.
Or how about Wyoming? Only about 500,000 people throughout the state. Almost outnumbered by antelope!

Your vacation idyll sounds like Portland 126 years ago, not 26.

I happen to think Portland is an even nicer place to live than it was when I moved here 11 years ago.

But that's just me, I guess.

Jack, I disagree with your 10 year estimate. 10 years ago, there were still stree walkers on newly named MLK. 5 years ago we had something like 15 gang related killings in N. PDX alone one summer. Outside my home by Jefferson High in 1999, we recovered 45 shell casings after an evening of back and forth exchange of gunfire. What's changed? It's been relatively quite since that summer as a result of the changes that PDX has put forth - as well as the Portland Development Commision and Habitat for Humanity. Development $$$ have turned around Alberta St., a favorite hangout for the bloods and crips of the 80's and early 90's. Development $$$ have re-invigorated N. Interstate and NE MLK to clean them up and get the businesses there to clean up. Development $$$ are at work right now changing the look of E. Burnside by MLK - I would hate to see Home Depot there because I too like the small businesses that have come in.

Living in Irvington has blinded you to the changes that go on outside of your idyllic neighborhood.

Excuse me, but what the post described were: ease of getting in and out of the airport, short distance to unspoiled wilderness areas, and great, uncrowded, reasonably priced vacation prospects within driving distance.

Portland has much less of that than it had 25 years ago.

Bad-mouth me all you want because I live in Irvington. And keep telling yourself how wonerful it's gotten on MLK and Alberta. (Just repeat what the realtors told you.) It's not what I'm hearing. Didn't they just close up a cofee shop on Alberta because the owner got tired of the renewed gang shootings? Be very, very careful walking around there after dark, my friend.

BTW, you have used up your quota of "idyllic" for the year.

As a recent transplant from somewhere deep in the heart of dixie, I find it totally mystifying that people complain so much about such an incredibly nice city as Portland. Try Atlanta. Spend a month in Little Rock or Birmingham or Nashville then complain. Granted, bad decisions can ruin a place in a generation or two, but Portland has more worth protecting than running away from.

I think Jack, that which you miss is missing because of one simple idea: growth. I looked up the census numbers for the Portland Metro area for 1980 and 2000:
1980 1,334,000 people
2000 1,918,000 people

That's 584,000 people that have been added to the Partland Metro area. That's over a half million more people living, driving, flying, vactioning, etc.

Now just think how hard it would be to get around if we had no land use planning at at all.

N and NE Portland are vastly better than they were when I was in highschool in the early 90s. Anyone afraid to walk around on Alberta at night is either scared very easily or is from Montana.

"Wake up, friend. All those great improvements were 30 years ago. Everything that's been decided in the last 10 has been for the worst."

Truer words rarely spaketh .... she says from a different state she moved to last month.

It may be better than a lot of other places. I didn't and don't like what Portland has become. And I completely disagree that it's safer now than five years ago. I was victim of three crimes and close witness to more -- in the last five years. (And most in the neighborhood close to Jefferson High.) Those were a part of the deal-killer for me.

The owner of Groundswell has given several interviews and just as many reasons for closing her cafe - yes, one of the reasons she has given was the recent shooting, but she also lists growing competition and general gentrification, plus the inability to focus on community activism as much as she wanted. See, for example, WW's interview in August:

I haven't spoken to any realtors about Alberta Street - I just enjoy going there.

Damn, sorry about the link - should be
here .


I'm quite aware that growth is the ultimate culprit. Never said it wasn't. I do remember a certain ex-governor telling the world, "Oregon is open for business; come on up." I think what he meant was that he, personally, was open for business. The people who responded to his invitation have no sense of Oregon values, and those values are getting harder and harder to find.

The last great governor said, "Please don't move here."

I worshipped Tom McCall, and "you're welcome to visit but please don't move here" was a mantra we took seriously. That spirit and much else in a slightly maverick, independent state has been entirely abandoned.

Replaced by .... what someone else liked better, or took, or bought and sold.

Last time I checked, it was a given in this great nation of ours that people had the freedom to move where they wanted to. Jack, that "great Governor" you talk about spoke those words in the 1970's, but you moved here anyway around then, didn't you?

Kitzhaber said it best. If we really want to stop growth in Oregon, we can just make it a miserable place to live.

The people running Portland right now are doing their best to take Kitz's advice.

I think the grinch has come early this year.

Jack, sounds like a real winner of a place you picked out for the family vacation. I'm thinking of an out west vacation for the family next summer and was wondering if you would mind sharing the name/location of your little shangrila.


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