Not ready to put Portland behind me…

I’m not ready to put Portland behind me.  Not yet.

Maybe because it’s simply out West, but there is something about Portland. The Willamette flows into the Columbia at Portland and splits the city in two. The river is a good focal point.

The priority items in last week’s letter (and rightfully so) didn’t leave me enough space to praise that city to Ellen and Reid.  Not that I want them moving further away from me than they already are, but the popularity of Oregon, and Portland in particular, are such that they advertise for visitors as long as they don’t become residents.

The City of Roses (that moniker is even stamped on their manhole covers) seems to have traits of all good cities: attractive, lively, great food, good architecture, and very habitable.

Where cities like Charlotte should pay attention is another common denominator: effective and widespread mass transit.  The light rail strings the city together, from the airport to the city center and the ‘burbs beyond.

Charlotte could borrow a page from Portland. A wonderful light rail system ties the city together, with noticeably less motor traffic.

I wouldn’t dream of pedaling around Charlotte.  Bikers here are an afterthought if not a nuisance and the news of car-inflicted injuries on the narrow ‘bike lanes’ here are all too common.  In Portland though, the bike lanes are spacious and biking to work and play is the norm; Minneapolis and Portland square off in a running (biking?) argument as to which is the more biking-est city.  On a year ’round basis, Portland has to get the nod.

The one disappointing thing was the cleanliness.  The streets were trashy and not picked up to the extent a visitor would hope to see.  If I was to grade Portland, it would get a B- if only because they make a concerted effort to get the locals to recycle.  Bins to separate waste are a great idea.

Street corner bins allow walkers to separate recyclable waste. Unfortunately, walkers could go a few feet left or right to find enough litter to fill these containers.

Finally, Portland has Powell’s Bookstore.  Best brick-and-mortar bookstore.  Ever.

Now I’m done with Portland.  Here is what E & R received a couple of weeks ago.


September 10, 2012

Ellen/Reid: I head out to Portland on Thursday morning and get in about 2:30 local time.  My lodgings are a C (or D) grade joint in the downtown near to the church and where Henry and Mary lived, and that’s good enough for me.  Tom mentioned staying with them at their home in Eugene, but my thinking is his and the family’s plate is full enough without having to worry about guests.  So I feel better about the arrangements.  Tom bumped me the obituary this weekend, and today I’ll place it in the Omaha paper so those in Henry’s hometown can be brought up to speed on things.  They sound relatively at peace with things, and Tom says the passing was calm and serene, all things considered.  I’m looking forward to it.  There’s a family gathering Friday night, and on Thursday night my nephew Eli addresses a crowd at a Patagonia store about his exploits paddling the Pacific coast.  Patagonia is one of his sponsors, so that’s a bonus of sorts.

The weekend was pretty quiet.  Friday night, and for the first time in more than four years, Felicia cooked and it was delicious which caused me to raise the issue ‘why haven’t you done this more often?’  We went out and had a couple of drinks and heard some passable live music at Mac’s.  Our intent was to ride to Shelby on Saturday night for reputed excellent BBQ (is chopped meat really BBQ?) but got rained out.  Instead, we grilled a couple of beefy New York strips while we watched Nebraska stumble badly against a so-so UCLA team.  The best days for the Big Red appear to be behind them.  We also dog-sat her daughter’s lab/Weimaraner mix.  It’s a sweet dog.  Walked a couple of courses and played shoddy golf for the most part but the walking part was enjoyable.  My best days at golf also appear to be well behind me.

I do have the 12 page Caldwell newsletter to crank out in the next couple of days before heading West.  Nothing – zero – is on paper as of this writing.  That’s always a work in progress that comes together at the 11th hour or the last second, whichever comes first.  Just when there appears to be no news, there is always some sort of divine intervention because a cover story or some other substantive item always pops up.  John seems to appreciate it (Reid, you’ve not met him) and that’s sort of what keeps me going on it.  This will be my 46th or 47th issue although no one is really counting.  John’s starting to preach on the plight of the poor, and given that neither party really addressed the issue at their recent conventions, it is timely.  I’m starting to sound like a church goer.

Ellen, I’ll make t-day reservations this week, and Reid, we need to move off the snide to get your Christmas tickets too.  Be sure to give me the dates on when you want to arrive and depart.  I’ll try to secure us a place on the beach somewhere, possibly Oak Island.  It’s about four hours due East of here.  It will spare you having to look at nothing under the Christmas tree, and maybe we can cook like we did on that Thanksgiving at Hilton Head a few years back if we are fortunate enough to have a kitchenette.  That was enormous fun.  Of course, it will be December and you never know what the weather will hold.  That’s okay.  You’re from Chicago.  Even the 30’s would be an upgrade for you.

Here I was all set to think about retirement at 64 or 65 – and then I logged onto the Social Security website and found, to my dismay, that the retirement age is now 66.  Bummer.  I was all set to do something else with the rest of my life, like write or play more bad golf.  I wouldn’t mind a part-time gig at a sporting goods store or something like that.  I don’t think I’m cut out to be a barista since I loathe coffees that involve foam, milk, soy products, and other ersatz flavor enhancers.  All that stuff is bogus and gets in the way of a good cup o’ joe.  When Emma’s old enough for coffee, her Gramps will teach her what’s right and wrong.


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