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A PORTLAND GEM

One BoomerPDX Blogger And Two Visitors From Moscow.

One BoomerPDX Blogger And Two Visitors From Moscow.

The following post found it’s way into The Oregonian’s opinion section as an op-ed.

I’ve traded emails with the Portland man who stood tall, then grew even taller and the newspaper editor who plucked this piece from his 100’s of submissions each day.

What’s it feel like opening the Sunday Oregonian and finding your work surrounded by other columns?

The anticipation of it coming out in hardcopy was tempered by my hope that it made it to oregonlive.com.

Seeing it on the page was like an out of body experience. Was it really my name?

All day I teased my wife and kids with “In my opinion…” conversation starters that usually finished things before they began.

Be sure and click the link at the top and read the comments. They’re too fun. Leave one if the mood strikes you.

A PORTLAND GEM

If good citizens were the riches of a city in C.E.S. Wood’s day, then Portland is the modern mother lode today. One example:

I stopped on Terwilliger Blvd between appointments to take pictures. A wide spot in the road is marked off for parking near the turn for OHSU.

It’s where you find great views of the Portland Aerial Tram in action, where the Ross Island Bridge looks magnificent, an impressively tall structure that you miss from other angles.

And there’s Tilikum Crossing. The overhead view is beautiful, appearing as a four masted sailing ship crossways in the Willamette River.

Find the spot by driving up Broadway and following the signs to Terwilliger. Follow that street up until you see the turn for OHSU on the right side. The next wide spot on the left is where the views are, and where something so very Portland happened.

While I was taking pictures and quietly raving about the sights, another car pulled up and parked. A young couple got out and joined me. A nice Portland couple, or so I thought.

“I haven’t seen the light rail bridge from this angle. It looks like one of the ships that sailed to early Portland. Have you been watching it go up?” I asked.

“Um, no.” the man answered.

Odd, I thought. Why the disconnect with the locals? They weren’t locals.

“Are you from out of town?”

“Yes.”

“From Washington? California?”

“Russia. We’re from Moscow. Our first visit here.”

Meeting visitors to Portland makes me get on my city soapbox, but what do I say to this nice Russian couple? I’d get them lost giving directions to Ft. Vancouver. I could point to SE, but getting them over to Clinton Street? Never.

“You see the bumps out there?” I said, pointing to the east side. “They’re all volcanoes. Mt. St. Helens is further up on the left and it has a great place to look into the mountain.”

I could see I was losing them so I yelled at a couple of men hiking up the sidewalk at a nice clip.

“Hello,” I called. “Where can I send two Russian tourists to see the best of Portland?”

One of the men turned around like I’d yelled “fire.”

“You have two Russian friends who don’t speak English? Just a minute,” he said, and pulled out his phone.

After a quick conversation he handed the phone to the Russian woman.

“It’s my wife. She speaks Russian. We’ll be back in ten minutes,” he said and left.

The ladies talked and talked. When the man came back for his phone, he invited us all to the dinner party he’d already planned, gave us his address and directions, and told us to call if we could make it.

He loaned his phone, invited us to his house, and we’ve all just met? The Portlander said he’d traveled the world and had great experiences. Paying it forward is his motto.

After the hikers left, the Russian man, Sergie, asked if this was unusual.

“You ask for help in Portland, and people help. Sometimes you get lucky and find a Portland gem. Remember this when you see me in Moscow.”

“Yes, I will.”

The Rest Of The Story

Before I left the couple from Russia I asked where they were headed? Which sites were recommended?

They said they got directions to the Rose Garden in Washington Park, and the Japanese Garden.

I nodded. Great choices. Better than mine, so I added to the list.

After digging out a note pad and pen, I wrote Pittock Mansion, along with directions, and gave them the pen and pad.

The man and I shook hands and I gave his wife a hug.

“You’ll find some of the best people you’ll ever meet right here.”

They smiled and waved. I think I met the same thing I promised them.

 

About David Gillaspie

Comments

  1. Geez BoomerPDX your famous for the third time this week! “Your future is so bright you gotta wear shades” 😉

Trackbacks

  1. […] With the hard to take news about Russia and our American elections, what does an everyday Russian need to hear to feel better about us? […]

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