By Hope Nardini
Portland is plastered with “Keep Portland Weird” bumper stickers, t-shirts, and even billboards. It’s one of my favorite cities to visit, because there is always something strange and crazy right around the corner. From “zoo bombing” on kiddie bikes to setting your taste buds on fire with habanero cheese fritters, Portland will not disappoint even the most reckless daredevil.
Woodstock Mystery Hole
When’s the last time you shimmied down a mysterious hole in the ground suspected to contain artifacts from an ancient civilization? The Betz floods swept the Northwest after the ice age, and sediment buried the land under layers of hardened rock. The mystery hole is like a telescope into the past. When a family discovered it in their backyard blackberry bushes, they were shocked to find such rock formations as the Giant Double Arch and the Gaping Tunnel. You’ll have to sign a waiver, but you too can experience this strange discovery. The Woodstock mystery hole is just two miles west of I-205, and you can find out more information at http://www.barronmind.com.
See Dead People
How do you feel about walking through seven miles of creepy hallway and chilly basement? Would you be even more spooked if you were walking among the dead? Although the Portland Memorial Mausoleum is now closed to the public, they do have special tour days periodically. You’ll see old Victorian architecture, crypts, urns, and notes left for the deceased. As you descend in the mausoleum, the place gets colder and creepier. Can you handle the mausoleum? There’s only one way to find out. The Portland Memorial Mausoleum is on 6631 SE 14th, and you can call 503-236-4141 to find out their next public tour date. Check www.wilhelmportlandmemorial.com for more information.
Run Barefoot…and Naked!
Portland is not a city for the conservatively clothed. There are barefoot, clothes-optional races available in Portland year round. Barefoot running has been a developing trend since many runners claim they are more alert and build stronger leg muscles without footwear. In Portland, some runners take this trend to an extreme and forgo any athletic wear at all. Barefoot Beach Runs, in particular, are about four miles of sand trails along the Colombia River. If you’re interested in participating, check out the Fig Leif 5K website at http://figleif5k.blogspot.com.
Go Zoo Bombing
Don’t worry, zoo bombing doesn’t actually involve bombs. Rather, zoo bombers are adults and adolescents who race each other on kiddie bicycles (and sometimes tricycles) down the hills next to the Oregon Zoo. They go pretty fast, which means scrapes and bruises are common. It’s one of the most dangerous things to do in the city, and some kids get seriously hurt. The regular zoo bombers leave a pile of minibikes at their meeting point in front of 13th Street and Burnside. The group meets every Sunday at 8:30 pm. If you’re up for the challenge, you can find more information at http://www.zoobombpdx.org/.
Great Balls of Fire
If you think jalapeno fritters need a little more kick, you have to try Salvador Molly’s Great Balls of Fire. These habanero cheese fritters are served with several glasses of water. They were originally created for Oregon Heat, a Portland non-profit organization that helps raise money for low-income residents having trouble paying off their heating bill. If you can stand the heat, you will be added to the Hall of Flame. Salvador Molly’s is located at 1523 SW Sunset Blvd, and is open seven days a week.
Portland is a thriving city with a laid-back attitude. Next time you’re in the area, bring out your adventurous side and keep Portland weird with these five crazy activities.
Traveling to Portland? Find great deals on Portland accommodation here.
Hope Nardini is a Connecticut native who is currently bouncing around in the Andes. She has traveled to over 20 different countries, but she fell in love with South America after studying abroad in Buenos Aires. Nardini did research on immigration policy in Quito, Ecuador this summer and will be interning in Peru with an educational development non-profit this fall. When she’s not haggling at South American markets or dipping her hands in a jar of dulce de leche, Hope enjoys playing ultimate Frisbee, watching documentaries, and looking for the next big adventure.
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