Saturday, July 25, 2009

USA: Oregon

Here is a quick run down on my last six weeks living in Portland, Oregon, United States of America. Portland is a pretty neat city, considered by some to be one of the hippest places in America at the moment. Much cooler weather than the scorching spring I had in Davis, CA, and contains many more hills and trees.

Downtown Portland.

Some things that were awesome in Portland:
  • Boating through downtown on a tube behind the boat along the Willamette River.
  • Being able to get hot meat pies and grilled cheese (cheese toasties) from some of the many food carts around the city
  • Going to a Matisyahu concert in an old ballroom with springy floors.
  • Enjoying a pint.... in an primary school... which is now a pub. Small bars in detention and the honours room, movie theatre with couches in the school hall... beer everywhere.

A ranch/farm (?) on the road to Astoria. Ranches have animals, Farms have crops.

Aside from the good times in Portland, we were able to go on some small road trips around the place. One was to Astoria out on the mouth on Columbia river on the coast.

Mt Hood

Another trip was to Central Oregon. After spending so much of my time in Portland (and up and down the I-5) I was surprised to learn that most of Central and Eastern Oregon is all desert. We camped in Smith Rock State Park, which is situated in the High Desert. Some neat rock formations and classic North American scenery (or what I stereotyped North American scenery to be before I got here).

Smith Rock State Park

On the way back we drove along the Columbia river, around Mt Hood and back into town. A good adventure. Oh, and we got some really really good donuts at this place in Sandy:

I love Donuts.

So my American adventure (Part 1) is almost at a close. I would like to impart some important lessons I learnt while here in America, based mostly on my previous false assumptions:
  • American Beer is good. Damn good. Forget about all the Buds, Millers, etc, there is heaps of other good beer here. Pabst is the best cheap one.
  • Peanut Butter is indeed far more versatile than we give it credit. It can go on anything, is good by itself, and is a meal when applied to bread.
  • There is heaps and heaps of nature! Admittedly I have only seen the West Coast, but I imagined far more free-ways and suburbs... but California and Oregon are rather sparsely populated, and there are trees and lakes and parks everywhere.
  • Politics seem to very rather important to a lot of people, I found "fair enough" to be an indispensable part of my vocabulary.
  • 104F is very very hot, especially when you are painting a barn roof under the Californian sun.

Lots of Nature...

Next Tuesday Steph and I fly out to Toronto, Canada to start the next chapter. I already have a few job interviews lined up (quite different from the two months spend bumming around in London) and have a couch to surf. So if anyone is in Toronto in the next year or so, pop on in.