When garages were filled with music

I remember one evening about 15 years ago when I first started back in walking. I was walking different loop routes through my neighborhood for exercise. On that evening Portlandia was in high form. As I walked I started hearing music coming from a number of the garages I past. It seemed every block had a garage with music. At first I thought it was a radio turned on while someone was working on something in the garage. Back then people listened to radios. But then I came to realized it was a group practicing their music. I would hear rock-n-roll coming out of one garage and chamber music from another and jazz from another and country-western from another and so on. The neighborhood was very much alive with garage bands practicing their art. Not long after that evening I switched to walking with a group in downtown and was not out walking my neighborhood any longer.

This last fall I started having knee problems and could not keep up with my downtown group. I started walking in my neighborhood again, now at a slower pace. It dawned on me one evening that the music coming from the garages was gone. I realized my neighborhood had changed. I think all of Portland has changed now. When it was the height of Portland Creative Renaissance you had live music coming from the garages and groups playing all over town. You had small theatrical companies practicing and performing in every large or small space that had small rents. You had company’s, like Icebreaker and others, moving their design departments to Portland because the creative talent was here. They have left now. But now, even before the lock-down, the neighborhoods in Portland have gone quite. Now the neighborhoods are respectable and expensive. And the dream of Portlandia, a dream of live music coming from a garage on every block, has slowly slipped silently into the past.

Best of Times

For some in Portland I am sure they are seeing this virus lock down as the best of times. One of the slogan for Portland is, “it is where slackers go to retire.” I think we also have the largest population of millennials who after high school or college moved into the extra room in their parents basement to play video game and only come out when it is time to eat. Perhaps I should include those who moved back into their old bedrooms or have taken up residents on their parent’s couch. For slackers and millennial basement dwellers being ordered by the governor of the state to stay home and do nothing must be a dream come true. Nobody telling them to go out and find a job as the unemployment numbers are skyrocketing. Nobody telling them they should do something with their lives. They are now heroes of staying home and saving lives. They have been training their whole lives for this moment and now they are standing, in a horizontal position, strong with other slackers and millennial basement dwellers and doing nothing. I am sure someday, when this lock down has past, this group will write songs, if they ever get that ambitious, about this golden times. Time where society praised them for their ability to follow lock down and stay home and do nothing.

What is Portlandia?

It means different things to different people. For some it is a big bronze statue that looks down at you as you enter the Portland Building, a building that is constantly under repair. For others it is a wonderful or annoying TV satire show about Portland’s quirks. For me it means almost the same as folks think the “Keep Portland Weird” slogan means. The difference is those folks moved here after Portland had develop its weirdness and did not experience what made it weird. Both refer to a vibe or spirit that Portland has developed. The vibe began back in the Portland Cultural Creative Renaissance. This was back in a time when artist and crafty entrepreneurs flooded into the old run down, cheap rent warehouses that is now what we call the Pearl district. Those early creative settlers formed a community that did not conform to the old manufacturing, resource extracting Downtown Portland that lay just on the other side Burnside. This community wanted to be creative, innovative, unconventional, entrepreneurial, where being different was OK and not a 9 to 5 corporate group but wanted to work with corporate but on their terms and be their own boss. They set out to build their own businesses and their own creative economy. From this came humanist attitudes, tolerance, understanding and lots of fearless energy that only youth and maturing hippies could bring. The suit and tie was out – unless it was worn with colorful boxers and high top logging boots. You could do your thing just as long as you don’t get in the way of my thing. And it was all fueled by a lot of coffee and later micro brew beer. This community has moved on from the Pearl and all the new high rise condos.

Today there are some little pockets of Portlandia and those early creatives settlers still around Portland. Others finally got their homestead out in the woods by Alsea. Some I hate to say got old and are in nursing homes (I’m headed that way). The Creative Renaissance is over but some of that vibe still lives on in Portland.

For this site I hope to be able to find some of lingering remains of the old Creative Renaissance that is still around and show you where to find them. I am also hoping to show visitors how that period of time has left a lasting impression on Portland and how some of Portlandia still lives on in the everyday. I also want to explore what happened to bring Portlandia into being and what is causing it to dissolve away in the Oregon rain. But first I have to wait for virus lock down to end so I can leave my house to look for all of that.

Virus Shut Down

The Governor is about to put us in lock-down over the CCP virus so now is not a good time to visit Portland. It is also not a good time for doing research on places to visit in and around Portland. I just started work on my self guided driving tours and once lock down happens getting out to explore will come to an end for a while. With what material I have on hand I still have several weeks worth of work to do on research and description writing. Along with that I have more organizing and planning for when the lock down is over and when I can get back out and explore. It should be interesting to see how Portland and Portlandia fair through this time.

One project that I can do while lock down is work on a description of what is Portlandia and how did it come to be and yes, Portlandia was more then just a TV show. The TV show was just trying to capture the spirit of what was going on here. This of course will be my personal view and how I experienced it living in Portland during the time it came about. Also, how that dream of Portlandia has almost died out now.

So in the mean time there will be less foot prints on our trails and no lines, along with no people, at the popular attractions. For the most part I think we enjoy visitor coming here and we will miss that for a while.

Columbia Gorge Exploratory

I got out today to check on and photograph some more place for my Columbia Gorge Driving Tour. This time out I had better weather and being a weekday less crowds. I start at Multnomah Falls, the most visited tourist attraction in Oregon. Last time out I could not find a parking spot so I had to pass it by. This time being a weekday and using the Freeway exit parking it was not a problem. Since the fire the parking by lodge has been cut in half so those spots are very limited. I got into the visitor center and did the route most tourist will do the viewing area and up to the bridge. The gorge fire swept through part of this area but it is greening up again. I then drove up to the next freeway exit and began heading back on the old highway.

I stopped in at Wahkeena Falls to photograph view platform area. When we do our hike out of here we just blow right past this area. I have photograph of the upper bridge and falls but I needed photos of this lower part. Then it was on to Vista House. Last time I was out it was so foggy I could barely see the build let alone the view. This time weather was better but still not the best lighting. I knew the build would be closed as it is only open on the weekend in the winter so I will have to come back another time to photograph it. I did a short drive over to Portland Women’s Forum Viewpoint and got some photograph from there.

Last stop was a new place for me. I stopped in Troutdale at the museum exhibit they have on the Columbia River Highway. They did a reasonably good job on it and it should make for good introduction to the historic highway for a new visitor to the area. I has good information about about the historic high and would improve ones appreciation for the road they are about to travel.

Columbia Gorge Exploring

I got out Sunday for a drive up the Gorge to work my self guided tour of the Gorge. I had mixed result on the trip with fogged out at a couple places and crowed out at a couple of more. But I did have some good visits to a couple of waterfalls and at the Bonneville Dam area. It will take a couple of more trips to get it all worked out.

All of these places I have been to many times but I needed to refresh my memory and see what has change. My big take away from the run was that there is a lot to see and I may have to break this into several tours with different themes.

Kelly again and a new museum

Final got a break from all of the rain we have been having and had a chance to get out. I really need to do a post on the 10 reasons not to visit Portland in the winter and rain would be right at the top of the list. But when it is nice here it is really nice. With some dry and some sun I went back to Kelly Point Park. This is the place to see just what a busy seaport the Portland area is, even though we are a hundred miles from the ocean. The view of Mt. Hood and Columbia River with all of the ocean going ships and river barges is always striking.

I also got to Washington County Museum that they just renamed Five Oaks. I have never been here before but saw that they had displays on the native tribe and on logging. I am working on my Theme Tours and trying to find place for folks to go as part of those tours. It turned out to be very disappointing. Biggest issue is that these exhibits are just temporary and going away in a couple of months. The quality of both exhibits was poor and they need to check there facts as they were using old information that we now know is wrong. So I can’t recommend this place. When White man came to this area we did a very good job of wiping out the indigenous population so it is hard to find places for people to go to to learn about them.

Green Anchor bit of Portlandia

One part of starting this website was to find what was left of Portlandia and share it with visitors. Sadly most of it is gone now. But one last bits of it can be found a Green Anchor. They have taken an old ship yard and found a way around the city’s codes and ordnance to be able to offer small rustic spaces for rent that artist and green entrepreneurs can afford. When you walk through the yard it looks confusing, messy and where you say “what the heck is going on here.” Reel creativity often is messy.

I love to walk through this place to see what changes have occurred. I always find new tinny home being built, vans and buses being converted for living in, new sculptures sitting out and always a surprise of something way different that was not there before. I don’t know how long this bit of Portlandia can survive before the rapid rise in property prices forces them out but for now it holds on.


Rediscovering Kelly Point

We are in the full gripe of winter now. This is our gray time of year. The last of the colorful Fall leaves are falling and we will be left with baron gray trees. Not the time of year to show the beauty of Portland. But if you are an explorer of the area it is a good time to discover or rediscover places less visited. One such place is Kelly Point Park. It sits at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia River. This is where the last major river joins the Columbia River before making its way to the ocean. For years I loved going to this Portland city park and walking the trails and beaches. Several years ago I stopped going. When I first started working on the Portland or Portlandia website I visited the park thinking this would be a place visitors to Portland should see. On that visit the rivers were running very high, almost flooding into the park. I saw no charm in the park on that visit and thought I could not recommend this place to visitors. But I did make a plan to go back at some point and revisit it. This is the nice part about winter here. When we get breaks in our rain, that is the time to rediscover places that would be over looked during the other seasons.

I had a chance to go back to Kelly Point on a couple of our clear cold winter days.  Changes had occur since I was there last but I did find the charm I remembered. The rivers were running at their normal levels and that exposed a sandy beach that can be walked. While walking I found I was entertained cormorants, seagulls, ducks and geese flying by and swimming in the river. This is also where you can see all of the river traffic. There are large ocean going ships, river barges and tugs, motorboats, sail boats, and sea kayaks that can pass by you as you walk. You can also say high to folks fishing from the beach hoping to catch a salmon. This is also on the flight path to PDX for viewing aircraft coming and going. You see the commerce that makes the area thrive.

The park also has a large picnic area, historic markers (Lewis and Clarke missed the Willamette River twice on their travel), trails through the woods and hidden quit spots tucked away in corners of the park. This is an urban park surround by industry but still an oasis of green. I am now working on a page for the website that will to show why you might want to visit this place on travel’s to Portland. Greener photos will have to wait until Spring.


Mt. Hood Tour

I went out with some friends and did one variation of my Mt. Hood tour. The weather forecast was for some and some snow. So that was a good reason for not going on a long hike and being wet all day. This tour allows for seeing some great places, in the fall, with wet weather and not get soaked and have fun. Our route was to see Little ZigZag Falls, then drive up into the snow to Timberline Lodge, see Little Crater Lake and finish at the historic Clackamas Ranger Station. So a couple of short walks to see a couple of the best nature spots around Hood, get a little history in and some good drinks and food at Timberline Lodge.