I’ve been wanting to visit my friends Mike and Jane in Portland for a while and Becca has been sure that she wants to live there, before ever visiting. Whenever Mikey comes through New York he never has a shortage of positive things to say about P-town. Come visit, it’s amazing, so cool, bang bang biddley, bang bang biddley.
Mikey and Jane have a pretty nice set-up going out there in P-town. They live in a gorgeous and spacious mid-century modern house in the hills which we neglected to photograph… The house was built in the mid-50′s (duh!) by a bachelor for himself, his mother and sister. It was well-maintained by the family, never rehabbed, because it didn’t need it. So when they bought the house, it was pretty well in original condition and included meticulous build plans original receipts. Very cool to have. Mikey said that they felt like “stewards” of the house and have no plans to update it, and though it does take a significant effort to maintain, it seems worth it.
Mikey was hell bent on giving us the FULL tour of town of the four corners of town – SW – NW – SW – SE, Yes, the four corners. But first we decided to get zen, so we headed to the Japanese garden. The garden dates from at least 50 years ago, and they’ve be adding to it since. It’s a fairly extensive, built on many levels with lots of water features and small structures for introspection, though I assume it’s not actually zen to quantify all the superlatives of a Japanese garden, much too gauche. Though I don’t have the words to define exactly what we saw, I can say it was a great opportunity to see very cool wood and bamboo construction and what I believe are tenets of wabi-sabi philosophy. Someday when I grow up I’d like to incorporate even a small amount of these type of features into a garden.
We toured around each quadrant of the city in Mikey’s Beemer 2002 listening to music – loud. Each area seemed to have a vibrant commercial area filled with small businesses run by the young folks that seem to be the only inhabitants of this city. We had Japanese-Korean fusion at Biwa (try the Mochi) in the SE neighborhood and then some drinks at Rontoms. (South-east is Becca’s favorite neighborhood.) We had our dessert of gluten-free crepes at a food cart. Portland has really embraced the food cart with little malls of them popping up around town, and individual carts shoe-horned in wherever space allows. The city seems to have a pretty relaxed attitude about zoning and construction of the carts, and I can’t imagine NYC allowing anything this casual. Which is sort of sad.
On our second day, our first stop was at the Rebuilding Center, a candy store of used building supplies, where Mikey’s search continued for mid-century upkeep materials, in this case original Crane plumbing supplies. We stopped by Flutter, with it’s girly collection of clothes, antiques, furniture and bric-a-brac. Becca picked up a few matchbooks for her collection. Later when visited a hilltop mansion museum for a commanding view of the city, Mikey’s son Max climbed a tree with such finesse, I forget he was 5. When a 4 year old followed him, he promptly got his leg caught so bad it took 3 adults to free him… We both had a lot of fun meeting Max. He’s a fun little guy with a sweet personality.
That night we ate at a popular Pho restaurant before heading to the bowling alley where the staff was charmed by Max and made every effort to make sure he played with us, including bringing out a ball escalator to help him to shoot the balls down the alley. He seemed really exciting to help his mom play, and cheered her on. That did not however stop him from beating her. That is cold blooded for a 9 year old, but for a 5 year old, damn.
On our last morning Mikey brought us on a quick tour of the Nike campus where Jane works. I’d never seen a soccer field that looks like a putting green, so that was something. We ended our tour with lunch in the cafeteria and then hit the road for the Oregon coast.