Blog 26, Portland, Oregon

Blog 26, Portland, Oregon.

You get some very nice views of Mt Rainier, Mt Hood and Mt St Helens when driving South East to Portland.  We’ve been to Portland before and didn’t like it, but we wondered if it was our attitude on the day, or maybe we were in the wrong area etc and wanted to give it another go.

We are staying in a nice area called Bridgeton.  Outside the campground is a very busy road, and the Colombia river is on the other side of the road.  There is a large houseboat community on the river with some quirky and very nice boats.  It looks like a very nice community which must be a joy in the summer.

 Like a bird on the wire…

The campsite is not much to our liking with mostly permanent people living here, not many travelers.  The office is locked but has a window that you talk to the office girl through like a bank.  The sign says it’s because of Covid but that’s the first time we’ve seen that.  Not what I would call a warm welcome on arrival but she was nice enough.

We are very close to Portland International airport and there are planes taking off right over us, but there seem to be very few at night time.

We are right opposite the Portland Yacht Club but it’s all closed off with a barbed wire perimeter, not like Westhaven where you can wander into the yacht clubs and have lunch.

We have 2 full days here and plan to go into Portland city tomorrow for an explore.

Very congested traffic all around Portland with I5 particularly grid locked.  When driving in we noticed tents pitched on the side of the freeway and basically wherever there was a piece of free land.  Rubbish is strewn throughout.

We got into the city and parked in the South Waterfront area by the hospital.  This area seemed quite nice with a new modern clean feel to it.  From there we cycled along the waterfront past Tom McCall Waterfront park and into the city.

I’ve written before about the homeless in some cities we’ve been to, so I’m not going to repeat all that stuff again but you just can’t talk about Portland without mentioning them.  The homeless are all over.  As we cycled through a park, a homeless girl crouched and peed without blinking, now that’s just not right!

Also in the park there was a homeless man that was very angry about something and seemed to have a Scottish accent.  He had wild grey hair and looked and sounded just like Billy Connolly and even though this man was a loud nuisance I found the scene very funny.  He went up to a man sitting on a park bench and yelled at him.  The man ignored him so Billy left and then stopped and went back for more, left and went back and so on.  I had to look to check it wasn’t a Billy Connolly sketch-‘ahh ffs, and another thing…’  This man could be heard yelling all over town.  Most of the homeless however are very passive if they are awake, some are even positively friendly.

I wanted to take a cycle around the Pearl District.  Named after a woman, not because of pearls.  The internet describes this area as a renovated historic area.  Old buildings done up with character housing, trendy coffee bars, funky book shops, boutique clothes shops.  What a pile of horseshit!  It’s a dump.  When we cycled through Vancouver BC we inadvertently cycled though Downtown Eastside.  All of central Portland is just like that.  Tents on the sidewalk, people rummaging through trash, old men pushing shopping trolleys piled high with God knows what, people sleeping in doorways.  And the place smells.  Still we cycled on into Old China Town, Downtown etc-all the same.  Horrible.  I so wanted to say something nice about Portland.  I did see some lovely old buildings and some bits of street art, but when there are tents outside on the sidewalk and you are afraid of what you might stand in, how can you take in the beauty?

We both went into the city with a positive open mind, looking for the good, but found none.  I think Vancouver BC has it right.  The homeless there are free to roam, but they stay in the Downtown Eastside as that’s where the shelters and clinics-their support is.  In Portland the homeless are scattered all over the city.

As we cycled by the Good Samaritan Medical Centre in the Northwest of the city something was dropped on us from on high.  We both got soaked and were initially shocked but quickly realised it was a water filled balloon that burst over us.  I immediately smelt my wet arms expecting it to be urine or worse, so felt very relieved it was only water.  I guess someone above us had a good laugh!  We struggled to laugh along and decided we’d seen enough and buggered off out of the city, and I have to say it, never to return-why would you???

I’m not anti homeless.  I had an Aunt that had schizophrenia and couldn’t live in society.  In Portland she would be one of the homeless without family support.  She was lucky enough to be housed in a country house with a very nice setting in the UK.  I can tell that many homeless are mentally unwell-they are victims, it’s so sad.

Apparently the homeless are drawn to Portland because it’s a city that doesn’t hassle them, they can pitch their tent anywhere if they are lucky enough to have one.

But we didn’t see any tourists in the city, there is nothing to see and it’s too seedy to bother with.  It must be a huge loss of the tourism dollar.  The city doesn’t have the balance right, the homeless out-number everyone else.

Feeling a bit glum about the city we headed off to a resort outside of the city to laze by a swimming pool.  I feel like I need a week at Disneyland, I need to escape this reality!

The following day we drove across town to visit the Japanese gardens in Washington Park.  The park is beautiful and we soon arrived at the gardens.  It’s $20pp to get in but we thought we would have a look.  We couldn’t find any available parking spaces so we drove back up the hill into Washington Park as we had seen a couple of carparks there.  I didn’t feel good about this, for the sake of looking at some gardens I didn’t want our car to get broken into.  Husband thought this was a bit silly but as he got out of the car he found a ladies purse-no cash in it of course.  This was a bit of a wake up call, had it been stolen from her car, parked right where we were…?

We took a bag that had anything of value, the garmin for example and set off, but there were lots of warning signs about cars being broken into and how quickly the thief’s can get into a car, steel and be gone.  We lost confidence and husband said he’d wait with the car, so I bought my ticket and rather hurried around the garden.  This really isn’t quite the point of a Japanese garden.  It’s a place of tranquility, a place to rest and contemplate.  Well, I was just contemplating the fact that my poor husband was waiting for me.  He said he would try to track down the owner of the purse, as most of the stuff was still it including a credit card.

The gardens were very beautiful.  I really did enjoy them.  With a blank canvas of land, I would love to create a Japanese garden.  I can tell that when the maple trees change colour the gardens will be really splendid.  When the former Ambassador of Japan to the US visited the gardens he considered them to be the most beautiful and authentic Japanese Garden outside of Japan.  The gardens were designed in 1963, so they are pretty well established, and large, covering 12 acres.

Anyway, a quick walk around, then back to the campsite.  I then headed off to stock up with some grocery shopping.

Tomorrow we pull out for Idanha.  We are heading to Sisters to explore Bend, so driving over the Cascade Range which should be beautiful.  Idanha is a stop on the way till we can get into Sisters campground.