I was now riding through Oregon and it was what I had imagined. Riding through national forests and the fertile Willamette Valley, I reached the principal population center of the state, Portland.
In urban studies/planning circles, the city has a legendary almost mythic status as a place that early on (1970s) went forward with policies that are still progressive, things such as urban growth boundaries, waterfront parks, freeway revolts, light rail and modern streetcars, loft/condo/gallery districts, etc. Coupled with this is the contemporary artisanal/niche/craft culture the city represents, satirized on IFC's Portlandia. Eager to see for myself what Portland is like, I was very pleased that on the way up, the train stops in central Portland for 45 minutes and for an 1 hour on the trip south (the two stops have been compressed into one narrative here), allowing me just enough time to quickly loop around the compact central area of the city and gain brief perspective and hastily formed opinions. Upon leaving the train and station, I noted how warm and sunny the day was in contrast to the usual image of a rainy and overcast place.
Another was the presence of New Urbanist developments.
Mass transportation and bicycles were very present and visible,
A relict Chinatown because it is expected.
And I did find elements of the culture often satirized.