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PDX Bucket List

I love my town of Portland, Oregon. Stupidly there is a bunch of stuff I want to do, but haven’t. So why not make a PDX Bucket List for myself to complete before moving out of the area? Some of the things I’ve done before and want to do again, and some will be new. Okay, okay. Probably any Die Hard Portlandites will roll their eyes because a lot of this is pretty Duh Inspiring, but there you have it. It’s my list and you’ll just have to suck up the urge the roll your eyes.

Legal Disclaimer: I reserve the right to make this list grow & shrink as I see fit, to do all of these (and then some) items or do none at all. But YIPEE  am open to any chirps, chimes or ideas of yours.

Portland Shanghai Tunnels

Old photo of Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels

  1. Shanghai Tunnels: My hip, cool city has a seedy underbelly. Thanks to the shows Portlandia and Grimm, many know Portland by the “Keep Portland Weird” sign downtown. Few recall it once wore the moniker of “Forbidden City of the West.” In Old Town Portland, somewhere between the Merchant Hotel and Hobo’s Restaurant, there lay underground tributaries of these left over legendary tunnels. Originally these were created to haul goods from business basements to and from the docks of the Willamette River, or so the story goes. During Prohibition things really got out of hand as many bars simply moved their liquor into the tunnels supposedly turning them into dens of lechery, human trafficking, kidnapping, drugs and the practice of “shanghai-ing.” Between 1850 and 1941, these poor souls would be drugged and shuffled away to awake on a strange boat heading to an unknown destination (usually the Orient), sold to sea captains for $50 to bolster their crew. The man was shanghaied and the captain got free labor. Of course the tunnels are considered haunted and you can see them featured on Ghost Hunters, among others. This is one location I have wanted to experience since I learned of the tunnels, but for one reason or another my plans always fell through.
  2. Which brings me to the similar tunnels in Seattle. Seattle is about a 3 hours drive from here, so why the heck not add it in? It’s only been recently that I’ve learned of these beauties. The story isn’t quite as fantastic as Portland’s, but it is fascinating in its own way. In the mid 1800’s these tunnels were at ground level full of wooden buildings. Then, in 1889, a cabinetmaker dropped a glue pot and inadvertently burned down 31 city blocks. After that it was decreed that all future buildings in Seattle should be made of either brick or stone. Decision #2, to regrade the streets one to two stories higher, fixed an issue of flooding at Pioneer Square as it was built on a tidal plane. As a bonus, gravity-flushed toilets no longer backed up at high tide. In 1907 the tunnels were finally condemned over fear of bubonic plague, but they continued to be used in the underbelly as flop houses, opium dens, speakeasies or for gambling.
  3. Eat at Beast – Back in the day celebrated chef Naomi Pomeroy wasn’t legal. That is to say she created these fabulous dinners, communal style and moved around a lot to keep a head of the law. I was lucky enough to eat at her “Family Supper” twice during that time. Now she’s famous, kick ass, award-winning and still doing things a little differently with her restaurant Beast. Among other things she has hit a ton of “Top 10″ lists from Best Chefs to Oprah’s “Women to Watch” but I gotta tell you, those things don’t impress me nearly as much as her Ted Talk. It seems fitting that a woman who I was able to catch earlier in her career should be a waypoint on my bucket list. It’s kind of a full-circle thing. Beast still does things a little differently. The one thing that might stop me from crossing this one off is A) she is very meat-heavy chef and B) a 6-course dinner with wine pairing is now $150 a pop. Brunch, with wine pairing is 4-course and $70 a pop. Brunch seems more my speed quantity-wise these days, but even $70 might be out of my range. (See the About page if you are wondering why.)
    PDX Tram
  4. OHSU Tram – Oregon Health Sciences University sits atop a hill overlooking Portland. The view from my endocrinologists office was breathtaking. Just look at this idyllic photo of the tram from their website. There are two trams, Jean & Walt (yes, they have names) that traverse 500 feet in four minutes. Originally created to create easier access to OHSU rather than a narrow, windy road, Jean & Walt have now become tourist attractions.
  5. Japanese Gardens – Because everyone needs a little zen in their life.
  6. Rose Gardens – Portland is known as the City of Roses. I’ve been to the Rose Garden overlooking Portland many times. I’d like to do it yet again.
  7. Silverton Falls – I’ve been here once before but some ankle issues at the time which stopped me from making the hike. Instead, we stopped to gaze at a much closer, much smaller waterfall that only took a tiny hike. I’m not sure health-wise I am up to the hike, but I’d like to try.
  8. Darcelles – Dinner theatre drag show in downtown, Darcelles is always a blast!
  9. Wolf Haven - Located in Tenino, Washington, Wolf Haven is a unique place mixing education, a sanctuary and advocacy for wolves. I’ve been here before a long time ago and adopted a wolf. I’d love to take part in their official Howl Ins.
  10. There’s a little back stretch of old highway leading eventually to Multnomah Falls. This little back stretch is full of smaller waterfalls, some of which can be seen from the road & others must be hiked to. I’d love to pack a picnic and spend a day enjoying.
  11. Glowing Greens (off Taylor – blacklight pirate-themed mini golf) – Just learned about this and although not indicative of Portland I’ve apparently been stir crazy far too long.
  12. Peculiarium – Allegedly all things peculiar including zombie brains…
  13. Circa 33 -Located on Belmont, tucked behind a bookcase is a hidden bar – an authentic speakeasy! What’s not to love?
  14. Wine tasting between here & the coast
  15. The Grotto – Officially known as The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, the Grotto is close-in Southeast Portland and houses a Catholic shrine and botanical gardens. I used to have a Costa Rican neighbor who would regular visit to stock up on holy water.
  16. Float On – About a year and a half ago I sold a computer for part cash and part passes for a sensory deprivation salt float sessions. Gotta do it, right?
  17. Common Grounds – A wellness cooperative, Common Grounds is a clothing optional set of super cool jacuzzis and saunas. Very low key and relaxing. They also have woman’s only nights.
  • Rebecca

    Fantastic list – I wish I could come and share some of these amazing experiences with you! Maybe not the OHSU Tram though!

    • Dwell Tiny

      Come on over anytime!!!