In the Name of the Rose

I feel especially guilty for not writing about Portland, because I really got such good vibes from the city. I was there almost a month ago and could easily imagine going back. The motto “Keep Portland Weird” is one that I can respect. I stayed near the Mississippi neighbourhood, a stretch of bars, cafes, restaurants and food truck lots as far as the eye could see. It was real indecision territory, but good coffee and/or kombucha is perfect for those dithery moments.

Some highlights (although I barely scratched the surface in this cool-but-not-trying-too-hard city):

Visiting the International Rose Test Garden. I know it doesn’t sound very scintillating, but if those roses don’t knock you out, I don’t know what will. Portland isn’t called the Rose City for nothing. It was another of those occasions when I wanted Mom, Finola and Granny with me. 

I can’t claim to be a rose connoisseur. As far as I’m concerned, the brighter the rose the better, so I was drawn to all the pinks and reds. I also want to name a rose one day. There was one called Darcey Bussell and another called Sexy Rexy (hello Empire Records fans!). The rose that won the Gold Medal the year that Finola was born is called El Capitan, which sounds just right. 

Eventually the Lush-like pollen fumes overcame me so I had to stagger off to see the Holocaust memorial, which was very beautiful and tasteful. I stumbled (almost literally, my eyes were streaming) across a beautiful statue of Sacajawea, without whom the Lewis and Clark expeditions would have been a total washout.

It turned out to be the first ever statue of a woman in America, which was in itself a big deal so I’m glad the sneezing pushed me in that direction.

I don’t have a photo of the doughnut I bought at Voodoo Doughnuts. It was gone before I had reached the next block. I can confirm that it was delicious and that the bearded man who served me had a beard net. I didn’t even know that was a thing, but it makes complete sense and looked fantastic. 

I was in Portland when the Orlando shootings happened, so was glad I could go along to the peaceful rally. The speakers called Portland “the queerest city in the US”, which fit nicely into the relaxed and open-minded feeling I got from the city. I was sorry not to be there for the Pride Parade, but it must have been a blast.

On my last day, before catching a late-night flight to Chicago, I went for a long sweaty walk in Forest Park. This took in the wonderful Pittock Mansion, built for a prominent Portland family in the early 20th century, and part of the Hoyt Arboretum. I saw sequoias! There is no evidence of this because my camera was acting up and didn’t do them justice. I did come across this bench dedication, which gave me a lump in my throat and a good end to this brief overview of my visit to Portland.


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