1. Vegan strippers
Portland has an old reputation as a port for the licentious and wanton. That routine is upheld by Portland’s strip scene, which includes vegan strip club Casa Diablo. Portland holds the title of most strip clubs per capita, a statistic fact-checked by Willamette Week in 2013. Whether this is worth being proud of is debatable, but regardless, we win.
2. Non-capitalist nudity
Oregon State Law allows nudity, so long as you’re not trying to arouse others (so… not stripping). City codes, like Portland, Ashland, and Eugene have more restrictive ordinances, but all told Oregon is pretty skin-friendly. Collins Beach just outside of Portland is a popular clothing-optional get-away on Sauvie Island, the Oregon Country Fair lets it all hang out, and hot springs like Bagby and Breitenbush give the clothing disinclined a place to soak it all in.
3. Berry ice creams
Oregon grows small, sweet strawberries, and large, dark huckleberries and a range of other berries tiny and tart to sweet succulent. We take these berries, mix them with sweet, creamy dairy and wind up with Tillamook’s Marionberry Pie Ice Cream or Salt and Straw’s Strawberry Honey Balsamic and Black Pepper.
4. Pale ales
If you like your brews bitter and hoppy, chances are you’ll find a microbrew to sate your taste in any establishment. Special shout-out to my own first beer and the staple of my grandfather’s fridge, Deschutes Brewery’s Mirror Pond Pale Ale.
5. Big cheddar
And I don’t mean money, because we’re running up a nice little budget deficit like every other state. I’m talking about the large logs of sharp yellow yumminess. The free samples at the Tillamook Cheese Factory almost make the motion-sickness enduring drive to Tillamook worth it. I hear Wisconsin has some sort of cheese thing going on, but west of the Rockies, Tillamook reigns.
6. Urban growth boundary
I sometimes hear from visitors that Portland sprawls more than they expected. This is true, especially around the I-5 corridor, but Portland’s growth boundary is pretty stark. Once you hit Wilsonville to the South or Hillsboro to the West, the landscape changes immediately and dramatically from rolling suburbia to agricultural or wooded lands. It’s a beautiful concept to consider sometime as you drive Interstate 210 hours through Los Angeles’ never-ending suburbs and satellite cities. Yep, that shade’s for you LA, I heard you need it.
7. Shameless self-promotion
I heard somewhere that only half the people now living in Oregon were born here. The rest are what we call “transplants.” How did that happen? It’s because those of us who leave, for love or college or sunshine, can’t stop talking about how freaking awesome Oregon is — and how affordable — and full of juicy berries. And ice cream. And vegan strippers. Then people move here and we complain about how Californians can’t drive and the newcomers are driving up real estate prices. But what am I doing right now? Writing about how freaking awesome Oregon is. I can’t stop.
8. Absurdly long walks
Every person in Portland is a hiker, if OKCupid profiles can be trusted to give an accurate representation. There are the meandering afternoon walks through Forest Park or along the coast. But every once in awhile many Oregonians (I imagine, though this has never personally happened to me) thinks “I want a really long walk or jog or run.” And that’s when one hops on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Oregon-California border up to the Bridge of the Gods, or signs up for Hood to Coast, or runs a marathon around the rim of Crater Lake.
9. Oregon-themed tattoos
It wasn’t long after the iconic green heart in Oregon sticker became a bumper-craze that the same design started appearing on upper arms and napes of the neck. Then other Oregon icons made their way into popular ink — the Douglas Fir design of the license plate, the Made in Oregon sign over Old Town, and “she flies with her own wings,” the state motto. Even the PDX carpet design is being immortalized on people’s flesh. Explain that one to the grandkids.
And one thing we suck at? Gentrification.
In that we’re doing it, a lot. I remember in high school we (primarily middle class kids from west-of-the-Willamette white neighborhoods) would joke about how “white-washed” Oregon was. As if it was past-tense. As if it was an inevitable fact. As if it were funny, albeit in a self-deprecating kind of way. But that white-washing is a process continually happening, and in the present more than ever. In the last decade, communities of color in urban areas of north and east Portland have been “revitalized” and while my grandparents still worry I’ll be shot while I’m out on N. Williams, my friends and I know that’s the new trendy place to get brunch. And where are those longtime residents now that rent raises priced them out of their own neighborhood? Primarily those communities have moved east towards Gresham. So, now a new generation of middle-class white teenagers growing up along MLK Blvd can so astutely observe how “white-washed” we are as a state, as if it’s always just been that way.