A cross-country trip like this, even at 3.5 weeks long, is like a survey course - a little sampling of the many landscapes that the country has to offer. I am continually reminding myself that this is not the only time I will be in these places, I have plenty of time to come back later if I want.
So, Portland, I'll be back.
We only had one afternoon. It was raining, which I understand is par for the course here. We went downtown to Powell's Book World, the largest independent book store in the country. The world? Anyway, it was really, really big. And busy. Of note, I read my first sampling of manga and found it pretty compelling. Also I was glad to see that Bear has developed a book-lover's book store problem: he picked out 20 books that we had to buy and we made him whittle it down to one (50 pounds of luggage per person, folks).
I wasn't ready to leave Portland, but we didn't have anything else specific planned to do and the kids were sleepy and it was raining. So we just sort of drove around, making random turns and checking out the downtown and then some neighborhoods.
There were a lot of homeless people. Maybe more than Baltimore. But we drove and drove and we never found any urban blight. No blocks of boarded up houses and warehouses like we have back east. And though I only surveyed the area from inside the RV, I never felt unsafe the way I do in Baltimore, largely because no place looked like a post-apocalyptic wasteland the way parts of Baltimore do.
It was not like I left with the impression that the place was free of crime - I actually watched someone break into a parked car and take a phone charger while I nursed Pax in the front seat of the RV outside Powell's.
In any case, it seems like a place that deserves more attention than I was able to give it. I'm considering this box unchecked.