The Portland Precursor
4/1–4/2: A freshman experience of Portland with some soccer, some city, and some nature.
I was supposed to start this story with an authentic picture or video of me writing The Portland Precursor in my notebook as I took the train from Seattle to Portland. However, there was no train. Twenty four hours before my trip, I get a call that informs me of an Amtrak service disruption. This disruption was a landslide somewhere in Vancouver, WA, seventeen minutes away from Portland. Instead of the sunrise train ride I was looking forward to, I got up at 5:30 AM and caught an early morning bus and was passed out for most of the ride. I guess the silver lining — the bus was an express to Portland and made no stops. The caveat: the driver took the wrong exit twice before we finally made it to Union Station (1)!
Side note: I will number major places based on the maps I have so you can actually follow along! Full albums can be found on my Flickr as I continue to update them.
Because I was early, I navigated my way from Union Station, through Chinatown, and towards the waterfront. I heard there was a farmer’s market but what I didn’t expect were cherry blossoms. I enjoyed an hour long walk before I had went to pick up my rental car for the day. My Lyft driver had actually studied sports management and was a season ticket holder. He shared his theory on how the rise of different sports is linked to the rise of different forms of media. For instance, baseball and radio or American football and television. And soccer? Video games (FIFA). The conversation was cut short because we had arrived. However, I think this was the first of many signs that I was truly in a soccer city.
I actually stayed in a small inn (4) near Providence Park so after I settled in, I ventured into the city in search for coffee and food. After all, I had to survive two games back to back. I picked up a latte from Dutch Bros. and stumbled on Adler Street Food Market Pod (5). For those who haven’t been — this is one block with so many different selections of food and a parking lot in the middle. I think I looped the block twice before I settled on some Thai food. I know Portland natives don’t like hearing it but it really did remind me of a smaller, perhaps more quaint version of Seattle. The area near Providence Park had some unique architecture that I absolutely loved. There were no super tall skyscrapers, at least I didn’t encounter anything similar to what I encounter on a daily basis. It even felt like less foot traffic as I walked all throughout the downtown area.
Now, one of my main goals was to see the Japanese Garden since I was so close and in my original plan, I was supposed to see it prior to the games. However, by the time I found parking and headed to the admissions, I was informed that the grand opening was Sunday. I was pretty disappointed that I wasted an hour but I had to head back and get ready for the games. Shout out to Steph for providing me tickets for these games.
Providence Park (6) is an experience. Although I did not actually feel this experience until the Thorns took the field. The stadium was incredibly empty during the Chicago v U23 game. I could literally hear every player on the field and their coaches as well. The game itself was more impressive for the U23 team than Chicago, at least in my opinion. The game had mostly high pressure moments and was more of a goalkeeper showcase, including an brutal hit to the U23 keeper. As the second half proceeded, The Riveters started to fill the stands.
My only experience with the Rose City Riveters was when they traveled to Seattle for the games between the Reign and the Thorns. However, this confined space, with probably the same number of fans that are spread throughout Memorial, is just different. You could tell that this was a community of dedicated fans who knew each other very well. You could also tell that I stuck out like a sore thumb, especially since I did not know the words to a single chant and for the entire ninety minutes, the only time there was ‘silence’ was at halftime.
Both Portland and Houston scored a goal a piece. I put the Portland goal full sequence on Instagram but here are a few shots:
However, you could tell this game was only a precursor for what is to come. It was an audition period for many players fighting to make the cut. Some definitely stood out in my mind, while others barely left an impression. The game finished and my time at Providence Park was over.
The next day I got up early and made my way to the Columbia River Historic Highway with a latte from Northwest Coffee House, a cliff bar, and an apple. I had my breakfast at Vista House Crown Point (7) and this was my view:
The drive was so beautiful that there was a strong temptation to take pictures while I navigated the winding roads. I resisted.
This highway features so many waterfalls and unfortunately I could only see a few before I had to return the car.
I did choose to hike to the top of Multnomah Falls (9)and even made a timelapse of the process. Although, I will say, it wasn’t actually worth the effort and I probably could have spent more time at the other falls. While driving back I was blessed with one scenic stop off the highway, which was good because I really wanted to take pictures of this view.
I returned the car on time but had 4 hours to spare before my train departed. I knew what I had to do. I wanted to see the Japanese Garden (11). It was in my original plan. The trip felt incomplete without actually seeing it so I found my way back to some familiar ground that I claimed as my temporary home for the weekend. The area was roaming with Timbers fans (they had a game that evening). I left Providence Park area and headed to the gardens. They were beautiful and probably had the potential of being peaceful except for the hundreds of people roaming the grounds. It was opening day after all.
It was still worth it.
I finished writing this piece on the train back to Seattle, after witnessing a spectacular sunset. Two things are for certain: I am ready for the NWSL and this cannot be my only trip to Portland.
Follow Positives and Negatives for more photo essays. Follow me on Instagram at kryptobanana. If photos are taken from here — please credit me and do not remove any watermarks.