Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Portland

I've decided I'm moving to Portland as soon as I can (provided I can become licensed to teach out here and can find a job close enough to the city). I drove from New Jersey to Oregon, saw countless towns and cities, environments, climates, people, attitudes, freeways, highways, etc. And nothing has yet grabbed my attention like the great city of Portland. I'm smitten. So... a year and a half left at Rowan, after which I can hopefully make my way west again.

One of the many attractions to Portland is of course the microbrewing. A few of us went to a microwbrewery whose name escapes me at the moment (no, not because I drank too much at the time). I got a "taster tray" full of eight small beers. I was in my element.

Most of my time in Portland was sharply characterized by the couchsurfing community. There was Sarah, my host, who lived in a beautiful apartment in a great neighborhood, and then all of her couchsurfing friends who I met all through the weekend.

On Friday night we grilled using the grill attached to Sarah's kitchen window.

On Saturday I met Evan from San Francisco who would be surfing with Sarah for the night. Easily one of the most interesting guys I've ever met. Used to weigh 300 lbs. and spend all his free time playing video games and drinking marshmallows and butter melted and blended into a gooey mix. One day he got fed up and literally threw his computer out the window, started exercising, and now at 22 he looks a little like Ethan Hawke.

Now he makes up the lost time in his social life by prowling the globe, hitchhiking in Macedonia, meeting beautiful women on benches in Paris, all the while promoting couchsurfing.

While Sarah and her friends went to a fashion show Saturday night, Evan and I opted for a trip to Powell's Bookstore (the only bookstore I've ever been to where they give you a map to get around), a walk around town, and finally to a bar where he tried unsuccessfully to pick up the two girls sitting next to us. Along the way he told me some of his stories, including the time he shut down Charles de Gaulle in Paris by leaving his bag unattended for three hours and was later interrogated by scary looking, beret-wearing French SWAT members.

I wish I had stories like that. The problem is, for the most part, I tend to be rather sensible and responsible (this from the guy who left his debit card in an ATM last week). But it would never occur to me to leave my bag unattended in an airport in this age of terrorism. But Evan is evidently cut from a different cloth, and that's cool.

On Sunday morning some more friends came over and I labored in Sarah's tiny kitchen to make my legendary full English breakfast. We also had fruit, chocolate croissants, and of course mimosas. It was Sunday brunch done right.


There were six of us around the table, and everyone of us had met the others through couchsurfing. When the table had been set, the food cooked, the smoke cleared from the kitchen, the guests seated, the glasses raised, Evan proposed a toast:

"To couchsurfing."

"To couchsurfing."

5 comments:

Kirsten said...

I can bet Chris and I will be your first visitors if you move to Portland! The city is the closet thing to an urban planner's utopia in the U.S. The papers here claim Minneapolis has a love affair with Portland and want to copy everything they've done right - LRT, streetcars, creating a walkable and viable downtown, just to name a few things.

Hilary said...

Yay for microbrews! And I loved Powells . . . I went there when I was 13 and it made an impression. I am glad you like Portland so much, it sounds great.

LukisWeb said...

WOW! Never really had an urge or a passion to visit Portland before. But the way you make it seem, and even the above comment(s) I think I must add it to my list!

You didn't talk much about it, but what made you "fall in love" (if i may) with Portland so quickly?

Scotticus said...

I love bookstores, movie theaters and microbreweries, and Portland has more than enough of all three.

Portland is a city with all of the benefits of a city - public transport, art galleries, theaters, concerts, etc - but is smaller and feels more intimate than other larger cities.

Portland is very close to lots of great outdoor opportunities - skiing, hiking, camping, etc.

Best of all, Portland is not in Jersey.

miss sarah said...

Hiya - we went to the New Old Lompoc on NW 23rd. Odd name, but great beer.

I had a blast hosting you last week, though, and you're definitely welcome to crash with me again when you move to Portland! That breakfast alone earned you a lifetime spot on my couch.