Well Portland, that was one heck of a weekend.
While I admittedly spent a majority of it hiking around the hills of Portland, I still managed to hit up a few great spots and learn some very unique things about the city.
Discovery #1 was ADX Portland, which I learned about from one of my Pollinate colleagues. Billed as a “hub for collaboration where individuals and organizations make and learn,” ADX is a giant co-op workshop that offers everything from metal and wood shops to 3D-printers and laser cutters. To me, it’s a great reflection of Portland’s DIY attitude and I think a lot of other cities would benefit from having such a space available. Personally, I find ADX’s best attribute to be its calendar of classes. As a member of the facility, you can take courses on metalwork, upholstery, woodcarving and so much more.
Discovery #2 was a little thing called Zoobomb, which brings together the quirkiness of Portland’s residents and their overt love of biking. A true PDX tradition, participants ride their bikes downhill from Washington Park station over and over again. Of course, what fun are normal bikes? The Zoobomb crew uses a variety of vehicles from minibikes and tall bikes to skateboards and choppers. And while many riders bring their own gear, a “Zoobomb pile” is always available with loaners. The tradition has become so well known around the city that a permanent pile, located in the downtown area, was erected in 2009.
These are just two examples of what I discovered about Portland this weekend. I have to admit that in a lot of ways this city accurately reflects many of the assumptions people hold about it—from an endless number of artisanal goods and craft stores to a love of nature, fitness and organic food. I’m sure a lot of people out there are fans of Portlandia and while the show's themes are largely exaggerated, I completely understand how their ideas come to be. Everyone here is just doing his or her own thing and having fun in the process.
If I’ve learned anything about PDX in the past week, it has to be that it’s deceptively small. They pack a lot of fun into a little city, even if you don’t realize it at first. I think that says a lot about the people who inhabit it and what they try to stand for—big impact / little footprint.
On a side note, I should probably mention my hike through MacLeay Park on Saturday. Turns out, the park is a lot bigger than I expected it to be. I started my hike around 3:30pm and before I knew it, I was pretty deep in the trails. After awhile, when the sun started to set, I decided to make my way back and that's when I realized just how dark it had become. I wasn't wearing my glasses either; so that wasn't helping anything. Thankfully, I did have cell service and that's how I knew just how far into the woods I had hiked. If it wasn't for my GPS and flashlight app, I'm not sure what I would've done. But, after a good hour or two stumbling along a pitch black trail, I did manage to make my way back to civilization. It was—without a doubt—one of the freakiest things I've encountered on the journey. Lesson learned.