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catch portland fever

Waterfront Park. Image via DG Studios

Once you catch Portland Fever you’re doomed.

Drug stores don’t advertise shots in case you catch Portland Fever.

It’s not shingles, pneumonia, or the flu.

On the other hand it’s not polio, malaria, of tuberculosis.

While not fatal, if you do catch Portland Fever, your life is ruined.

After a few years in Portland, maybe a decade, you grade the rest of your life by those years.

The good times are better, the bad times not so bad, and it was in Portland.

But is it the place, or the age you catch Portland Fever?

Portland baby boomers who’ve lived here all their lives scoff at the notion of Portland Fever.

To them nothing’s changed too much.

Not so with Portland boomers who arrived in their twenties.

Show up on these shores ready for a new adventure, and you’ll find it.

A regular walk around the block of a new neighborhood takes on epic safari meaning.

No honey, you don’t have to drive two miles to get anywhere. Sanka isn’t the coffee of choice, Bud isn’t the top beer.

Like people you know from high school who changed identities once they went to college, joined the Army, or moved to New York City, catch Portland Fever and you’re changing, too.

Ladies smooth our their rough edges with gallery visits and museum openings wearing mid-calf skirts and white stockings with low pumps.

Elegance and refinement all in one package.

Men know how to tie a tie, but also have a new norm for Portland: the lumber sexual, which pretty much nails every small town guy in jeans and a flannel shirt.

Rough and refined work together to create a disease others notice, and they try to mimic it in other places, try to catch Portland Fever, and pass it along.

Of all the places that want to catch Portland Fever, none works as hard as Asheville, North Carolina.

They’re getting close. Check for yourself:

  • Rich men built dream homes in both cities.

Portland’s Pittock Mansion is a fine house on a hill, but no match for Asheville’s Biltmore House.

Both come from the same era with French influences, but only one is a Vanderbilt castle fit for a Harry Potter movie on an estate designed by the man who built New York’s Central Park.

Gifford Pinchot managed the Biltmore woods before moving on to become America’s first forester.

Old money vs new money, but not that new.

  • Both cities have defining lodges.

Timberline is sixty miles away from Portland on Mt. Hood, Grove Park Inn is two miles from downtown Asheville. One boasts 40,000 square feet, the other a 40,00 square foot spa and over 500 rooms.

Portland has a downtown living room, Pioneer Square, but Asheville’s version of London’s Trafalgar Square, the Vance Monument obelisk, sits in a middle of downtown traffic circle.

If you’re on the fence deciding where to move, skip Portland and aim for Asheville.

The River Art District, or RAD, in Asheville is everything emerging art communities in Portland strive for. Re-purposing a former industrial landscape works better there, even if you love The Pearl.

  • Both cities have literary heroes.

One of them built a museum for their lit hero. Thomas Wolfe throws big shade.

Ken Kesey isn’t even a Portland guy, but he deserves a museum? Sure he made a local insane asylum famous, but it’s not a museum about his work.

If you made your way to Portland from one of the other Portland’s, like Austin, Texas or Minneapolis, Minnesota, with stops in San Fransisco, or Seattle, find a way to stick.

Otherwise you’ll catch Portland Fever and that’s the filter you’ll see everything else through.

I’ve done the work so you won’t have to.

After four days in the Blue Ridge Mountain city checking food, beer, and laundromats, I recommend it to people who may catch Portland Fever.

Move soon, because three construction cranes in downtown Asheville show a growing city.

If you wait you can’t complain about the ‘good old days’ like people in Portland a year after moving here.

Asheville of the West, or Portland of the South? Check your map and draw a line.

About David Gillaspie
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