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The Buying of Oregon
Curious about what brings visitors to Portland — in anticipation of tomorrow's Selling of Oregon show — I went to the International Rose Test Garden to meet some out-of-towners. The very first person that I approached was visiting all the way from Germany:
Astrid is from Berlin. She told me that she was on a road trip and had visited Salt Lake City and Yellowstone National Park before coming up the West Coast to Portland. "I saw a TV documentary about the Pacific Northwest, a general overview produced by a TV channel in Germany," she told me. "I wanted to visit Portland because it's nice to see the landscape, the parks, the coast, the Columbia River Gorge."
Astrid wasn't the only person to mention the beauty of the landscape (though maybe I was bound to find nature-lovers in a garden of roses with a scenic view of Mount Hood). Don and Midori were vacationing for a few days in Portland before visiting family in Seattle:
They live outside of Berkeley, California. Don likes Portland's smaller size. "You can take mass transit anywhere, and traffic is not nearly as bad as in the Bay area. We were driving at 4:30, 5:00 yesterday afternoon and even then it wasn't nearly as bad as what we're used to."
Chris and Molly were looking for some relief from the urban grind as well. When I asked Chris what brought them here from St. Louis he said, "We came for the beer, the wine, the mountains, the ocean, the food – what else? Oregon wine is famous, and the microbreweries. We were reading in one of the alternative weekly papers yesterday afternoon, somebody wrote, 'We've got to find the next hottest thing before the New York Times does!' We had definitely seen a lot of coverage in the New York Times and elsewhere."
Molly added, "For me, the attraction is that the urban core of the city is so vibrant. We come from a place where the downtown is pretty dead, and it's nice to see people who actually live in the city and want to be there. You can go to a grocery store in the city in Portland. You can't do that in St. Louis."
And then there were Marshall and Valerie, from Littleton, Colorado:
They had also seen some of the press coverage. Marshall told me, "We'd read magazine and newspaper articles about the greening of Portland, about the public transit, the emphasis on bike paths, the natural environment – the moisture, that causes the greenness. It's partly the combination of the mountains and the ocean."
Valerie jumped in: "And the airfare! It was only $318 for the two of us from Littleton, Colorado. We're here for six days. The best thing so far has been the waterfalls: Triple Falls, Bridal Veil, and Multnomah."
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