While the rest of the country was baking, we were wondering if Summer was ever going to arrive. A range of mountains, and a little more, had us just outside a pressure bubble .While our country’s mid-section was enduring triple-digit daytime highs, we were struggling to get above 72 degrees. The weather in the part of the Pacific Northwest that is West of the Cascade Mountain Range is temperate and vulnerable to the Jet Stream’s every whim. Weather reports in our part of the country are rarely dependable beyond 24 hours, October thru June.

Portlanders are particularly adept at the art of layering and finding a good raincoat with a hood. Here, criteria such as water resistance versus water repellancy mean something. Natives to this area may carry umbrellas. I say may cautiously there. Umbrellas are cumbersome and one more thing to carry. More convenient is that raincoat with a hood.

But there is no need for a raincoat right now. Daytime highs are in the 80s. The sky is a bright blue with some clouds (remember, we’re right next to two mountain ranges – clouds are inevitable). Gardens are green and lush, the landscape is a brilliant green that just begs us to go outside and ride our bikes, take a walk, hang with the neighbors, and enjoy barbecues with family and friends.

People riding their bikes are everywhere. If you are looking into bicycling statistics in this area, I need to caution you. You may see an inordinate number of bicycle/car accidents in your research. This isn’t because people are terrible drivers here, or terrible bicycle riders either, for that matter. It is indicative of the tremendously huge community of people who ride their bikes here. When you have many, many bicycles, you will have a higher incidence of bicycle/car clashes than you will see in places with far fewer cyclists.

The weather grand and that means the Art Cars have been seen out and about on Hawthorne Boulevard and other conspicuous places. What’s an ‘Art Car’? Oh, now you’re in for a treat! Art Cars are cars, that run, that owners have decorated and, in some cases, turned into moving sculptures. A couple of them have working fountains on them, some are covered in doll parts, a few are painted with dizzying designs, and several are covered with fake grass and/or mirrors. They are a strange and wonderful sight to behold when they pass by.

Ans with the weather being so great, there really isn’t a better time to enjoy Portland’s downtown Saturday Market next to the Burnside Bridge, a huge sprawling venue of booths run by local artists, craftspeople, musicians, skateboard makers, backyard bird house makers, local clothing makers, and food booths. There is everything you can imagine plus a one-man band who seems to defy reality. He’s cool. Public restrooms are patrolled and kept clean for patrons’ use. And, I know this is really, really cliche’, but the corn dogs are fantastic!

Portland has so many food carts, serving so many amazing concoctions, I can’t even begin to do the list justice. Want lunch for $3 or $4? Go check out the food carts. They’ve got it and if they don’t, they have something else delectable to amaze your palate. The price is right, you get to be outside and enjoy our fabulous weather, and the company is fun too.

‘First Thursday‘, so named because it occurs on the first Thursday of every month, involves downtown art galleries that stay open late so those who want to get a little after work culture can hop downtown (or stay downtown after work), enjoy a glass of wine and, often, some light live music, while enjoying the local art scene with others who enjoy the same thing.

Alberta Street decided ‘First Thursday’ looked like a pretty good idea so they came up with ‘Last Thursday.‘ Alberta’s event is less highbrow and more street fair, but there is local art galore and food carts to feed your belly. Local vendors and stores along Alberta stay open late on the last Thursday of every month to encourage curious folks to come on in and take a look-see. There are many, many independent clothing boutiques along Alberta. Please don’t miss out on these. They offer great clothes that are, often, made by local clothing designers. (Interesting Factoid: Three of the most recent winners of the reality show, Project Runway, are from here!)

Portland Area residents love their live, performing arts. We have a thriving community of burlesque and vaudvillian performers. You can catch a live show for a pittance and see a performance given by people who bring this art of old back to dazzling life! In October there is the Portland Erotic Ball and several other large-scale parties to attend in costume with a…shall we say, a ‘very adult’ theme? But that doesn’t occur until later…

There is music and art and fantastic food to enjoy for reasonable prices in our remarkable weather. There are wonderful nationally renown restaurants to enjoy for a bit more (Nostrana, Le Pigeon, Higgins, the Heathman, Portland City Grill, etc.). In fact, Nostrana’s real, stone-oven fired pizzas made to order are incredible and made by the real deal. They serve a dessert there that is made with an in-season fruit covered with thick almond milk that is to die for.

I am looking forward to the Belmont and Hawthorne Street Fairs. I can’t wait to take a look around Lounge Lizard this weekend. They have one of the best selections of retro furniture and other ware at some of the best prices in town. I popped into Muse on Hawthorne recently to peruse their huge selection of encaustic supplies. If you are an artist contemplating encaustics, you have got to get to this place. It is small and the staff are very knowledgable. They make up for their small size with a wonderful, wonderful array of interesting supplies. Their pre-stretched canvases are sold for great prices.

And don’t pass up an opportunity to take part in one of Portland’s Historical Architecture walks. You’ll learn about how different parts of Portland, today, were actually different towns at one point, and how all the architecture in older parts of town have a distinct character all their own.

I’m off to Powell’s on Hawthorne now. There is a cafe in the store with great coffee and I’ve got a hankerin to visit Powell’s for Cooks and Gardeners next door. The books, the supplies, the gadgets, the people. I love Powell’s and it was definitely one of the key reasons we moved back to Portland. Maybe I’ll pop over to Greg’s on Hawthorne while I’m there. He has some wonderful things in his store that I need to check out. And then maybe I’ll get a fresh-made-to-order sandwich at New Seasons before I leave.

I’m taking my camera with me so I can post photos for you to enjoy.

I’ll be back!