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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Last week, I was in Portland, Oregon for some training. I commented a couple of times on the training itself, but I never collected my thoughts on my experiences outside of the training.

As mentioned earlier, we wanted to go to the Japanese gardens and rose garden in Portland. Well, we went and took a boatload of pictures. I’d say that I’d post them, but I know myself way too well and I know that I probably won’t for a long time (if at all).

The Japanese garden was simply amazing! It was 5 1/2 acres divided up into five separate areas. My two favorite areas were the strolling pond and natural gardens. The strolling pond garden features a beautiful Upper Pond that offers tranquility with stones leading directly to the water’s edge. The Lower Pond is crossed via the Zig Zag Bridge that takes one out into the water mere inches off the surface. The natural garden, on the other hand, is a meandering path through several different gardens, all exemplifying the crafted nature of a Japanese garden.

The rose garden was disappointing because we came probably two or three weeks too early. There were buds aplenty, but few blooms. In my mind’s eye, I can imagine what it must look like. I just wish there was some way I could go back in early June; I bought some post cards that show the gardens in full bloom, so I guess that’ll have to do.

Aside from that, the only place I saw outside of my hotel room and a few restaurants (none particularly noteworthy) was Powell’s, the world-famous bookstore. It occupies an entire city block and is made up a bunch of confusingly laid-out rooms on a number of levels. The books are a mixture of new and used tomes, but the prices don’t reflect the usual discounts associated with used books. I bought some good books nonetheless and spent $100 (about $200 less than I could have, mind you). I didn’t get a chance to visit the technical book store two blocks away, but that’s probably a good thing.

Overall, Portland was an interesting city but suffered woefully from poor, narrow highways combined with slow-ass drivers. The lights are timed so that you can’t actually make two in sequence. The downtown surrounding Powell’s has relatively few stoplights, opting instead for stop signs. I liked that a lot. I didn’t interact with a lot of Portlanders but they didn’t strike me as unfriendly or slow (James Duncan Davidson found them really friendly).