Monday, April 19, 2010

Another three months

It didn't take long for Greg & I to fall in love with Portland, OR. Well, he probably wouldn't characterize it that way, but ultimately we have entered into a long-term relationship with the city. When we arrived on February 1st, it was a cold & rainy afternoon. When we left on March 31st, the temperature and conditions were almost identical. But in the weeks in between, we had many beautiful days of glorious sunny & mild weather, perfect for exploring the city and the neighborhoods that make it so endearing. Oh, and of course, for trying as many of the microbrews as we could possibly consume! After about a month of enjoying our new home base, it was already time to start planning our next "adventure." We looked at a number of different cities, including New Orleans, Washington, DC, Seattle, and San Francisco. I won’t go into all the reasons why we didn’t choose any of those cities, but suffice it to say that it was primarily an issue of availability and “bang for the buck.” Since we would be staying in Portland and were already familiar with the area, we decided to "move" from our apartment near Lloyd Center, primarily because of the noise that seemed to be due to our proximity to the mall and all the fast food restaurants. We didn't mind the sirens too much (there's a fire department a couple of blocks from the apartment), but the loud car mufflers & stereos and people talking on the street at all hours made it a bit unpleasant to have the windows open all the time. While we agreed it would be wonderful to live in one of the residential neighborhoods like Irvington or Laurelhurst, there are mostly houses in those areas, not apartments. Our first choice due to the overall location and proximity to great restaurants, brewpubs, public transportation and green space was a downtown neighborhood called The Pearl. Not very long ago it was still an industrial area occupied by warehouses and rail yards. Since the late 1990's the area has experienced significant urban renewal and is now filled with high rise condos, warehouse-to-loft conversions, art galleries, and trendy bars & restaurants. With the help of Craigslist, we made a few appointments to see some furnished one bedroom condos that were offered for short term rental by the owners. One was on the 18th floor and had a great view of downtown with Mt St Helens, Mt Adams & Mt Hood in the background. But that space was still pretty raw and didn't seem all that comfortable to live in plus there wasn't a gym in the building. We also looked at a unit in a warehouse conversion that was really nice and had great furniture & decor and a large balcony but didn't get much direct sunlight. The place we chose sold us with the floor to ceiling south-facing windows in the living room, balcony with gas grill, and office nook for Greg to work in. With our new living arrangements secured we booked our return plane tickets (13APR-14JUL) and started planning a few side trips. Since Yellowstone National Park has been on both of our top ten lists for awhile, we did some research, made a few phone calls and quickly booked a week long trip via Jackson, WY and the Grand Tetons. We're going in mid May so it will still be a bit cool but there should be lots of baby animals to see. In addition, we booked some shorter overnight trips to Crater Lake and Mt Rainier & Seattle. We also plan to make a day trip to Mt St Helens and maybe go back to Mt Hood (a trip we originally made last August). And, of course, there are always more local activities that we enjoy like the monthly Beer Belly dinners at The East Burn, smelling roses at the International Rose Test Garden, walking along Tom McCall Waterfront Park, etc. As I write this it is a mild & damp day. But I'm sitting by the big living room windows and there's so much light you can hardly tell it's overcast. The only noise from the open windows is the occasional horn of an Amtrak or freight train passing through Union Station nearby. Or the gentle hum of the Streetcar at the corner of 10th & Lovejoy. I can hear Greg typing away on his laptop. It is peaceful, still. All is well.

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