I love Oregon. If I didn't live in Washington, I'd move there. Actually, I was seriously looking at a property outside of Bend a few years back before we found our little slice of paradise here in Port Orchard. I've vacationed in Oregon countless times and taken many a day trip there. I like Oregon a lot. They simply have better beaches than we have here.
I remember on one particular "day" trip to Portland, during which I was lost somewhere in the downtown corridor, looking for a place to turn around. I was impressed with the city. It was like Seattle... only cleaner. It was rush hour and the "bus-only" streets and "No Turns" intersections had me particularly worried about whether I'd make it to my destination before the millenium was over. These were the days before cell phones and GPS. I had a paper map, but finding a place to pull over amongst the gazillion "No Parking" zones was challenging.
My number one problem with Portland is Burnside. Yes, that's right, Burnside. The street you get stuck on and have to travel miles before you can make a turn and backtrack to where you really needed to turn in the first place, only to find that you can't turn there anyway. Burnside is Portland's very own Hotel California.
So how is it that I never manage to find a way to avoid that dreaded stretch of road where it seems that everything is "No Left Turn," "No Right Turn," "No U-Turn"? There's a freeway entrance somewhere on Burnside which allows a Seattle-ite blessed escape onto I-5 North. Safe, away, back to home where the one-way streets seem to only confound visitors from... oh yes, Portland.
Every single trip I've ever made into Portland, I end up on that foresaken street. Only to realize that I'm now trapped like a hamster in a ball. Drive all the way across town, find a place to turn around and go back. Why, Burnside? Why do you flummox me so? I secretly think that Burnside is just one of the many ways city planners had to keep outsiders away from their beautiful and entertaining little city. If an out-of-towner dared get off the freeway, they would simply fall into the sticky trap that is Burnside and be stuck there for eternity. I think there's a special section in hell referred to as "Stuck on Burnside, can't turn anywhere, running low on gas."
Most of my trips into Portland were for concerts. There were shows at Crystal Ballroom, La Luna, Memorial Coliseum (was warned then not to get on Burnside, pfft) and a few other clubs whose names I cannot recall. I've been lucky enough to see Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Queensryche, Goodness and many other bands in Portland and have loved every visit. It's just the getting in and getting out that gives me trouble.
On one particular trip, after a great show and an unexpected early morning breakfast with members of Goodness, TB and I set out trying to find the freeway. We asked one of the locals and of course, they directed us to Burnside, follow it to the freeway, can't-miss-it-style. I think I then asked if there was another way to the freeway. The local insisted that their route was easiest. I was driving T's car to top it off, which made me even more displeased over having to travel Burnside in someone else's vehicle. I don't remember how many wrong turns we made, but we eventually got out. Our arrival in Puyallup was sometime around 6am. Heck, it was light out. T had to go to work. I went home and napped. That afternoon, it was off to another adventure in Seattle. Poor T showed up with no sleep at all and tells me she hallucinated all the way back to Puyallup that evening. Oh, the adventures. Imagine, T would have managed to get a few hours sleep if it hadn't been for Burnside.
Portland, you are beautiful, but I hate driving when I visit you. I hope you'll forgive me for my scathing criticism... like many, I just hate being lost in strange cities. And yes, Portland, you are strange.
Click here to read about the historic Burnside Bridge.