The Portland Experience

Waking up to some fresh coffee and eggs in Trent’s (our hero) sister’s house was not a bad beginning of our day. It quickly got even better though: we got offered a ride by Trent’s sister’s housemate’s boyfriend (this looks much more complicated than it actually was) to the outskirts of Bend, from where we would easily find a ride. He assured us that we definitely should come back to explore the surrounding area around the city. Not long after being dropped off, a car plastered with American flags and driven by a very talkative friendly old country man stopped for us and drove us to Redmond.

By now, we have so many of these signs

The place he dropped us was midway between a McDonalds and a DairyQueen. However, before we could decide where would get our calorie rush of the day, a big car stopped and offered us a ride straight to Portland. After flinging our backpacks in the back, the driver, Jim Brooks, introduced himself and we were off for a good ride (in the literal and figurative sense of the word). Brooks will be featured again in the future (see our later Sooke post). Instead of more McDonalds, Brooks drove us into the mountains to Mt. Hood Brewing Company. Here, we ate some actually great sandwiches and listened to Brooks as he passionately described his home beer brewing hobby. This all occurred while we merrily drank a pint of micro-brewed goodness. We had a good time and Brooks invited us to come stay with him on Vancouver Island. He offered to take us salmon fishing and teach us how to smoke it.

Our Couchsurf host in Portland asked us to arrive before 2:30pm, so we downed the last few sips and we were off towards the Portland experience. At this point it should be noted that our Couchsurf host in Portland wasn’t your standard ‘host’. It was actually ‘an urban intentional community called the Mothership Community that currently consists of 10 adult members and 1 child. Some of the members operate as an egalitarian income sharing commune. They believe everyone deserves to eat and the food system is fully collectivized with the understanding that anyone can come eat here. Many people think of The Mothership as home base and stop in to refuel, gather supplies, and plan new expeditions. They are committed to calling each other on acts of oppression. There is no tolerance for unapologetic racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, gender essentialism, ableism, body shaming, slut shaming, or enforcement of gender roles and stereotypes. Although they are mostly a bunch of queer/genderqueer relationship anarchists, they do also accept the cis heteromonogamists of the world (while they assimilate them).’ Their words, not ours.

Brooks was nice enough to drive us straight to this local community based in what he described as a low income housing neighbourhood. He had a good laugh, shook his head, wished us best of luck the next few days, and drove off. So there we were, two ‘cis heteromonogamists’ ready for a Portland experience.  The next two days could have been straight from a sketch out of the comedy series Portlandia.

The Mothership Community was as hospitable of a hosting community as they described themselves to be. We got a tour through the community (which was mostly built or renovated by community), did our laundry, were guaranteed that any unlabelled food we would find anywhere was up for grabs, and borrowed a pair of bicycles. After we put down our sleeping mat in a house the community had recently acquired to be able to expand, we went to find out if Portland’s bicycle system is as good as everyone says it is. It is. We sped to a nearby shopping mall to buy an Amazon Echo Dot (which Emily had been thrilled about since Denver) and an extra hard drive to back up some photos (making good use of Oregon’s 0% sales tax).

Having fun in the Mothership

That evening we just sat around and chilled with our interesting, but intense, hosts. Or so we thought. The Community were such welcoming hosts that they had invited 7 guests to stay with them at the same time, while being off to work and vacation themselves. Since no one really knew who was a guest and who a permanent resident, it did take us some time- until someone wanted to ask how the coffee grinder works- to figure out that there were no permanent residents around. Anyways, we had a good time.

Downtown Portland

The next morning we continued our Portland experience. Emily biked to an organic Saturday’s farmers market and ate an “elephant ear” (Emily is still on team Beavertail), while Laurent went shopping for some vegan sandals (really just rubber sandals). We then went to get some food truck food, with a sushi doughnut as the highlight of the day (first sushi in months, but a total mess to eat). We continued our bike ride next to the waterfront until we reached the famous Portland Aerial Tram, which brought us up to Marquam Hill. Once on the top of the hill we found out that we had actually ridden up the last tram of that day at 5pm and that if we did not want to walk down, we had to take the same train down. So we did. Once at the bottom, we decided that a visit to a vegan strip club, Casa Diablo, would be the perfect cherry on top of our Portland cake. After asking one of the strippers, we learned that the vegan in this place means that the strippers do not wear leather or feathers. Lame. Their motto is “Vixens not veal. Sizzle not steak. We put the meat on the pole, not on the plate,” made it sound so much better. Well, as expected from us “cis heteromonogamists”, Laurent liked it, and Emily absolutely detested the experience. Even after our stay with the Mothership, Laurent is still a sexist pig who likes strippers, and Emily is still too closed minded.

Breakfast at the market

Sushi doughnut

Down we go again

Food trucks

Make of this what you will

We originally planned to stay Sunday in Portland to have a long brunch in the Community, but when one of the other guests offered us a straight ride to Seattle, we did take this offer. Hitchhiking has rarely been so easy.