Almanac Travel: Twelve photos from two days in Portland


In July 2017 Lynda and I took four weeks annual leave and headed to the Montreal Comedy Festival via Portland, Seattle, West Glacier Montana, Minneapolis and Chicago. This was the detailed map I sketched out at the time.



The only reason we decided on Portland was that we both were big fans of the comedy show Portlandia which was on the ABC. In a strange twist of fate that devotion would come to fruition on our last day. It was the Fourth of July when we got to Portland and there was an annual blues festival on the waterfront where we spent the bulk of the day.




Portland had decriminalised marijuana not long prior to arriving and it was evident at the show. A very mellow environment indeed. Like the TV show Portlandia, the city is renowned for its eclectic nature and they are very proud of it.






They had hepatitis testing available at the show. The headline act was the legendary Canned Heat celebrating their 50th anniversary, so this nurse had a sign saying, ‘if you saw Canned Heat live, you need to be tested’.



At the show they had an interesting interactive blackboard installation called ‘before I die’. I wrote what any long suffering Saints supporter would.



Like most cities in the US, the level of homelessness is quite overwhelming and Portland was no exception. It’s a relatively small city with only 650,000 odd people but a very high percentage of homeless. On the bus going to the train station on our last day, the bus driver insisted we take the light rail to the station when he dropped us off with only 500m to walk. “Too sketchy down there” he said and when we went past on the tram it became clear that he was right. It was like a zombie apocalypse of homeless in various states of undress and drug affected behaviour.  It was very sad and there were quite a few ex-servicemen being reduced to begging also. I had a chat and donated to this man on the way to the show.



Portland is a very eco-friendly city and has a beautiful view to snow-capped Mt Hood and Washington Park which has stunning gardens. The Art Gallery is also a must see.



So after having dinner on our last night, we walked out of the restaurant and in the queue waiting to get in was Carrie Brownstein the start and writer of Portlandia. Completely star struck we pretended to be cool and kept walking however we turned to each other with that ‘what are the chances?’ look. A guy sitting on brick wall having a smoke turned to us and said something like “you’ll regret it” and we turned back toward Carrie who was with her former band mate Corinne Tucker from the all girl punk band, Sleater Kinney. I was so tongue tied, all that came out was, “you’re the reason we came here!” She looked very concerned at that point but agreed to have a photo taken, I think to appease us and hope we’d move on quickly. Actually they were very friendly and we headed back to the B&B in shock.




Portland is an interesting city and easy to get around in a few days. We met a wonderful woman Jen in Montana on this trip who got us out of some strife and showed a ton of kindness. She lives out near Mt Hood so we will visit there one day. The countryside in Oregon is special. From Portland it was a train to Seattle.



More from Ian Wilson can be read Here.



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About Ian Wilson

Former army aircraft mechanic, sales manager, VFA footballer and coach. Now mental health worker and blogger. Lifelong St Kilda FC tragic and father to 2 x girls.


  1. Barry Nicholls says

    Looks like a terrific trip Ian thanks for sharing!

  2. Ian Wilson says

    Thanks heaps Barry

  3. Patrick O’Brien says

    Great stuff, Ian
    Waaaaayyyy back in 94 I did the US summer camp thing and was blessed to find myself in Sandy, Oregon, about an hour outside of Portland.
    I spent a lot of that summer in Portland – including being ordained at the Church of Elvis – fell in love with it, and have been lucky enough to make my way back there a few times since.
    And yes, Portlandia is hilarious and 100% accurate!

  4. Ian Wilson says

    Thanks Patrick much appreciated. Looking forward to experiencing the countryside of Oregon down the track. Cheers

  5. Rick Kane says

    Great piece Ian but what the! Do you have goss on a Sleater Kinney break up? I’m pretty sure Corin and Carrie are still very much SK, with a new album out this year and playing The Forum in May.


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