Last week I was in Portland, Oregon with a small group of co-workers for a meetup.

Since we all work from our homes, the meetup is a chance for us to get together in person, get to know each other better, and have fun doing team-building type activities. We already feel like we know each other so well, but after you meet a coworker in person, then you can hear their voice and visualize their mannerisms in your head when you’re communicating via text during our regular work days.

I haven’t been to Portland before. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Great transit opportunities – we didn’t use a taxi service once. A really handy train/street-car train system gets you right from the baggage pick up area of the airport to downtown, just a block from our hotel
  • Walkable – the downtown area was all walkable. It felt really good to get my legs moving again. It’s been a long time since I lived in town and walked frequently.
  • Safe – even at night, the downtown felt “townish” and safe
  • Homeless – There seems to be a lot of people sleeping in sleeping bags on door steps and on sidewalks. People of all ages. During the day, many wore vendor cards and sold a newpaper of some kind outside all the restaurants
  • Food – So many food choices! It felt like Manhattan where everyone eats out for all their meals. My Vietnamese lunch was my favourite meal.
  • Cultural – For all the different food choices that were available, the city felt very mono-cultural. I didn’t get an international vibe like you might walking in downtown Toronto for instance.
  • Outdoor rec’ish – I felt like I was back at Lakehead in the Outdoor Rec program – so many Gortex jackets with The North Face and Patagonia logos.
  • Fit – Lots of people biking and jogging, especially along the waterfront. Many skateboards too.
  • Mountains – I could see a couple from Portland. One was Mount St. Helens I believe. Beautiful snow covered mountains.
  • Boast-worthy – Everyone who lives in Portland seems to really love Portland, and will be quick to tell you that it the Number 1 place for city trees, strip clubs, churches, etc. etc. The downtown area didn’t seem particularly well treed and there was very little green space, but I’m sure the ‘burbs are lovely 🙂
  • Powell’s – The Powell’s book store was amazing. It is many city blocks, full of new and used books. I spent an hour and barely saw any of it. Great paper items too, like notebooks, and pretty note cards. I found a couple fly fishing books Jeff was looking for.
  • No Sales Tax – So strange to actually pay the price, not the price padded with HST!

Some Pictures! Click to view a slideshow with photo captions!

Travel thoughts:

  • This is the first time I took United from Halifax. It was really great to go through US customs here instead of at a layover. I will definitely do this again.
  • Switching planes in Chicago wasn’t bad at all. Different terminals, but it was connected by a hallway
  • Didn’t have an enjoyable experience in Vancouver airport. Signs aren’t good – I had to ask twice to get where I was going, through the whole maze of picking up luggage, customs, custom machines, through glass doors, up an elevator. The entire process funnelled to one inefficient long line to drop off luggage before heading through security again.
  • In order of preference, for Canadian airports, I like switching planes in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver the least so far.
  • All planes have different sized seats. The red eye Boeing 777 from Vancouver to Toronto was hideously uncomfortable. I needed to be 150 pounds lighter, and at least 6 inches shorter to make that one work.
  • To get back to Halifax from the west, I have to often choose a red eye/overnight flight, or a late arrival. I’ve tried a late arrival with Jeff picking me up, a 2am arrival with a hotel room at the airport, and a red eye flight getting in at 11am. None are really optimal. I wouldn’t want to live any further from an airport than this (2.5 hours).

Can’t wait for my next trip! Might be our vacation to the Yukon!


Lisa (Verkley) Schuyler is a blogger reporting live from her new home in Canada's Yukon Territory. Often found wearing a hoodie, covered in pet hair, Lisa is a mis-placed forester who now spends her days engineering happiness for WordPress users. Lisa loves nature, animals, and most importantly, her handsome husband Jeff.

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