People often say "My hometown isn't the same anymore. Everything's changed now and it's not the great place I grew up in!" Well, as anyone who's ever been there knows, there is one town that people may say this about 20 years from now, but not today.
I flew to Portland, Oregon, for the first time in my life a few weeks ago, and realized that place is right up there with the best of the world-class cities; but there's an asterisk here.
Talking to the natives, they all say pretty much the same thing: "Summer" in Portland usually starts on July 5 and normally only lasts for three (or maybe four) months." For the rest of the year, apparently, the other season is "clouds, fog, drizzle, an occasional snowflake and rain."
I lucked out while I was there, for sure. I arrived on a clear day on July 3 and the following evening saw a spectacular fireworks display on the banks of the Willamette--a river which cuts through the very heart of the city--a big orange full moon hanging in the cloudless, exploding, fiery sky above, and a great live blues fest providing the audio for the evening. Truly "epic" (as da kine say in happy text-ese).
I never saw a cloud for the next two weeks. Anyone who's ever been to Portland in the summer can fill in the rest of this column: Modern, electric streetcars; bicyclists peddling everywhere, bike racks at every corner; people walking their dogs with free community poop bags in dispensers along the way; restaurants every 40 yards, each one providing unique, competitively-priced, delicious cuisine for vegetarians and carnivores alike; occasional wooden-slatted walkways; pubs, clubs and coffee houses with free WiFi everywhere; recycling community awareness that would give the most stringent environmentalist goose bumps, street fairs, outdoor music concerts and on and on.
Right up there with (and in many ways outshining) New York, Seattle, San Francisco and my hometown of Boston, Portland is truly a unique, amazing and beautiful city--at least for the next few months.
This opinion column is written by Charles Laquidara, who has lived on Maui for over 11 years. He worked at WBCN radio in Boston for 30 years as the morning-drive host of a show called "The Big Mattress" and is occasionally heard on Mana'o Radio here on-island. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.