Random thoughts about roadside art, National Parks, historic preservation, philosophy of technology, and whatever else happens to cross my mind.
Friday, March 19, 2010
So where did we go, you ask? First, one of the most livable cities I've ever seen -- Portland, Oregon -- and then a few places within a few hours drive of that city, like the Columbia River gorge and some of the Pacific coast. Portland is an amazing place. There's seemingly a brew pub on every other corner, even the sleazy parts of town are clean, and the mass transit system works.
We went to Portland because I'd had a paper accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society for Environmental History, so some of my time was eaten up by sitting in meeting rooms listen to historians drone on about stuff that was almost as boring as my own research -- it's been awhile since I'd been around academicians and I'd forgotten just what a stuffy bunch of pretentious twits they can be. Fortunately, since I'm no longer much interested in "networking" (a euphemism for desperately sucking up to tenured faculty in hopes that somehow it will help starving grad students find work) I was free to avoid the meeting's truly hideous aspects (like the over-priced banquet) and just enjoy being in Portland with the S.O.
It helped a lot that we'd chosen to avoid the conference hotel (the downtown Hilton) and opted instead for an Econolodge perched on the edge of the Portland State University campus. The place was small, but clean, quiet, and well-managed. The managers really knew the city, too. They were able to provide clear directions to every place we asked about, and also gave good advice on where to eat. And, despite the fact the breakfast bar area was not much bigger than a postage stamp, they even managed to set out a decent continental breakfast. I'm always moderately cautious about Econolodges (they're at the low end of the Choice Hotels empire), but this one was a place I'd go back to any time with no hesitation.
We engaged in some typical tourist behavior in the Portland area -- browsing at the Saturday market under the Burnside Bridge, eating street food, visting the Japanese Gardens, driving along the historic highway through the Columbia River gorge with frequent stops to walk our feet off admiring waterfalls (including, of course, the best known, Multnomah, shown above) -- and then headed for the coast.