I spent a month in and around Portland. I have some old friends that live in a suburb. I spent most of the time with them, barring three or so stints in the city during the week while my friends were busy working.
I haven’t spent this much time with these friends for ten years. It was great. We did a lot together – day trips, going out in the city, bike rides, hikes, a trip to the coast, to a hot spring, to a casino, home/van projects, Monopoly games, etc.
Thoughts on Portland
On my first night inside the city, I met a girl to go on a bike ride together. We were meeting at an intersection, and one of the streets had a significant bike lane in it. This was a Monday, around 5-6pm, so it was rush hour. There were SO MANY people riding by on bikes. There were about 50 people riding by per minute. I’ve never seen so much bike traffic on a normal day, in any city I’ve been in. I did learn that this bike lane functions as sort of a bike freeway, so a lot of bike traffic is funneled through there. But still, it’s a lot. I saw a lot people riding in other parts of the city too.
There are also a lot of people out and about, walking around. Most of them are young. I would’ve guessed there are a lot more people ages 20-40 in Portland than in other major cities. I did a quick check and it looks like that age range is about 40% of Portland, and 30% of the U.S., so there’s a difference, but not huge. I guess the young people in Portland are out and about more than other places. Probably part of this phenomenon is that the city is very walkable. There are not big wide streets. There are not strip malls. There are sections of streets that have a lot of businesses along them. There are a lot of these little business areas spaced out around the city. People who live near these walk there a lot.
I like Portland. I was more surprised by how much I like Seattle. I connected with people quicker and deeper in Seattle than Portland. That could just come down to chance, but I have a feeling it’s not.
So many Vandwellers
Portland and Seattle have a LOT of people living in vans. Thousands, I believe. They’re all over the place. At each sizable park, there will be 5-10 on the street around the outside. At one intersection in a normal residential area, I looked around and saw 4 vans that look like people may live in them. Parking is super easy in these cities, especially in Portland. If you’re in the city (as long as you’re not in the areas you have to pay, or in certain specific congested areas) it seems you can park however and for however long you want. The direction your vehicle points doesn’t matter. How long you stay parked there doesn’t seem to matter either. Many of the van dwellers appeared to be doing so partly or entirely out of necessity rather than choice.
Built some shelves in the van
There is a vertical wall that makes up the back side of my bike box. The top half of this wall (the outside of the bike box) has been empty so far. I’ve been thinking about adding some more storage either here, or along the top sides of the walls. My buddy helped me a lot. Here’s how it turned out:
We basically built wooden crates that are attached to the wall. I made them as wide as I could without them getting in the way of putting up the curtains (on the left side) or me moving around in the van (on the right sides).
The top 2 are the same depth, and the bottom one is deeper. There is less of a vertical gap between the bottom and middle shelves, so it being wider also helps with reaching in there.
Here you can see the widths:
They hold most of my clothes
This freed up other storage space in the plastic shelves. So far, I’ve just thrown my boots and sandals into the drawer that emptied out. One of my rubbermaid containers that’s under the bed is only about 1/3 full right now, so I have some spare room for whatever else I decide to acquire.
I added wax to my cotton jacket to make it a lot more water resistant. I think it worked well.
My friends are in a bowling league.
We went to 3 or 4 different McMenamins. We were all McMenaminsed out.
A short hike on some island
There were a TON of berries where we walked around. At one point, when a couple of our group were trailing behind, Craig found some berries that were pretty red, and decided to get their juice all over his hand, and as the two that were tailing caught up, tell them he had cut himself bad. (Earlier in the hike, we’d used my knife to help cut off some berries that were hard to reach, so he said he was using it and cut himself). ha!
Oh, also I bought a used Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 lens. Got it for $300. I’ve been using it almost exclusively and for most landscape pictures, it’s better than the fisheye. I was thinking I would sell the fisheye and 24mm, but I’m not so sure now. There are specific pictures I want to take every now and then that can only be done with the fisheye (or that would take something like a 5mm lens). [note: a month or two later I sold the Tokina and the fisheye because I got a full frame camera. I bought a Rokinon 14mm, and now the majority of my pictures are with the Rokinon or my Nikkor 24mm.]
I’ve started trying to improve my landscape photography skills. I’ve been reading online and listening to podcasts, and I’ve started reading some books and looking for good Lightroom/Photoshop videos. I figure that since mobility and freedom of time give me incredibly good opportunities for landscape photography, and I enjoy it, so I might as well get better at it right now.
I took very few pictures in the city. Portland has some awesome bridges. Maybe next time I’m there I’ll take some good cityscape pictures including the bridges.