36 Best Things To Do In and Around Portland

Finding the 36 best things to do and see in Portland Oregon, July 2014. There are pictures below… if you are THAT lazy.

With only 36 days in a brand new city, there exists slight battle between the time you have and the things that you get to do in that time.

With so many recommendations (online, in books and magazines and from anyone that I mentioned the city of Portland to),  it made me think about how little hype there is about awesome things to do in my home town of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. What’s the deal with that? Could I make a similar list for Edmonton?

The 36 Best Things To Do In and Around Portland:

  1. Eat/drink at Branch Whiskey BarSalt & StrawBollywood TheatreGrain and Gristle, Tin Bucket, Lardo, TeoteCultured Caveman, Stumptown Dumplings, Candy Babel, Voodoo DoughnutsNong’s Khao Man Gai, Bailey’s Taproom, Podnah’s, Tasty n Sons, Screen Door, Ha VL, Le Pigeon, Pok Pok (noi)
  2. Buy a book at Powell’s Books (details)
  3. Explore the city on foot by running a bunch
  4. Get a bike, and explore the city on bike (Springwater Corridor Trail)
  5. Get to the coast in Astoria
  6. Perform a show at the amazing Curious Comedy Theatre
  7. Monster hike/run in Forest Park (details)
  8. Show someone around town
  9. Cross the Willamet on every bridge (St. Johns, Fremont, Broadway, Steel, Burnside, Morrison, Hawthorne, Marquam, Ross Island, Sellwood) (details)
  10. Swim in the mighty Willamet River
  11. Explore Vancouver, Washington by crossing the Columbia River
  12. Dip in Maltinoma Falls
  13. Explore sanctuary and tranquility at The Grotto and the Rocky Butte Natural Area
  14. Hike to Angel’s Rest above the Gorge (“like you’re on a balcony over a great auditorium”)
  15. Hike up the Oneonta Gorge
  16. Hike up Council Crest
  17. Bike up and down Mount Tabor
  18. Summit Mount Hood
  19. Relaxing float down the Clackamas River
  20. Hug a monster redwood in the Hoyt Arboretum
  21. Pull a petal in the International Rose Test Garden (details)
  22. Photobooth (Florida Room, Dots, Ace Hotel, Beulahland)
  23. Patron the Saturday Market and Portland Farmers Market
  24. Visit the Nike Factory Store and the Adidas Campus
  25. Traverse the best streets in Portland: Alberta, Hawthorne, Burnside, Belmont, Fremont
  26. Live eclectic at the McMenamins Kennedy School and the Bagdad Theatre (details)
  27. Sip some hot stuff and soak in the vibe at the Lan Su Chinese Garden (details)
  28. Develop a slight jealousy over the incredible grocers both local (Alberta Co-op) and larger (Whole Foods, Trader Joes)
  29. Nude soak and sauna at the Common Ground Wellness Center
  30. Devour a steak at the Acropolis (details)
  31. Shoot for a high score at the Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade
  32. Train, Trail, Tram and Trolley on the 4T Trail around the whole city.
  33. See a main stage show at the Keller Auditorium (Book of Mormon)
  34. Attend a spectator sport like the Trail Blazers, Timbers, Winterhawks, Thorns
  35. Kayak to Ross Island
  36. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Being away from your home town makes you really think about the things you love in a city, what you find valuable, and what you miss. And some photos of the adventures are below:

The Best Advice

Some of the best advice I have ever received in my life:

Do everything you can every day. Get up early, go to bed late. Don’t be future tired, be in the moment. It’s what you do that prepares you for what comes next, not what you don’t do. It is the mistakes you make and then learn from, rather than what you avoid doing. Attempt everything.

Invest yourself in the lives of others. Promise yourself to attempt to the fullest of your abilities. Spread your positivity. Lead yourself with guidance and motivation, and then lead others.


Fearing for Your Life

Late May 2014, I was running around the peninsula at the Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Alberta, Canada. As I turned the corner on the peak of the peninsula, I came face to face, not 5 feet away, from a full size angry-as-f**k / startled-as-f**k bull elk mother.

The staredown, chase and fight lasted 30 minutes, and I encountered plenty of scars and scrapes form trees and branches. I rolled my ankle pretty badly as she pushed me into the beautiful Lac Beauvert.

Where the west was won

I armed myself with a masher stick, and was able to fend the mother off and stay on her flank as I angled myself back toward the cabins, and main lodge.

Luckily, a security / ranger saw me splashing around in the Lake, and as I ran back at full sprint toward the cabins, I ran past ‘her’ my saviour, and all I could say was “ELK”.

She asked me why I said that, she said it was obvious. It was 5 feet behind me and gaining on me. The mother was protecting her hidden calf, and to be fair, I would have eaten that baby elk so good if I found it.

As I was sitting in the lobby at the Fairmont, waiting for a medic to come and tend to my wounds, a delightfully friendly set of German couples came up to me to talk to me, and surely investigate what had happened.

Face cuts
arm cuts
Arm cuts

I discussed to them the story of the attack, and they were surprised. Apparently not 30 minutes earlier they had a photographic encounter with the mother elk. Just recently they sent some of those photos, and a nice email to my collegue at Atomic Improv (Donovan).

Just feeding
Just feeding
Just Chilling
Just Chilling

Your friend that had the encounter with the elk at Lake Louise said he would like a photo of the animal that caused him some grief. My wife and I whilst walking that morning came across the animal in a very composed repose and then saw it wander off towards the point. It was not until we were in the hotel that we realised what had happened to your friend. Enclosed are 2 photos that I took just before the fateful event. -Errol

I appreciate their sending of the photos. Such a glimpse into subdued calm before the storm.

When you run, follow a few safety rules:

  • Bring a phone
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back
  • If in danger, run for your life, you will be surprised at your split time.

Photobooth: A Biography

Meags Fitzgerald is a wonderful friend of mine, and she just recently published a book entitled Photobooth: A Biography. I would recommend you take a peek at it. You can read my 5 start review, and buy the book, at Amazon.

 2014 International Photobooth Convention...
Sad nephewJacky in his first photobooth photo…

I was lucky enough to attend the book launch at the 2014 International Photobooth Convention this weekend in Chicago, Illinois. This is my second IPC, the first was in 2012 in Los Angeles (read more about the convention, and how I was described as gung-ho here).

The Convention (congress) was hosted at A&A Studios in Chicago… and we (myself, brother, sister-in-law, and their baby) were lucky enough to stay at an amazing AirBNB.


27th Birthday Pictures

For my 27th birthday I asked everyone I knew to send me a picture (a photo they took preferably) alongside birthday wishes. This is part of a series I am working on … asking for 25 “Stories When You Were 25” two years ago, and doing some audio interviews at 26.

These idea all seem to stem from this collective creation work I have been continually fascinated by. The premise that the idea comes from me, but the content comes from the crowd.

I think these photos are particularly poignant because, in this Social Media dominated world, we are so focused on capturing the moment, that we sometimes forget that we should appreciate each moment afterwards… The process of looking back, while not something that is particularly my forte (re: memory loss in improv), is fun in and of itself.

Also, we take so many photos… I thought maybe it would be a nice opportunity to show someone who cares (me) a photo that they have taken but maybe not had the motivation/impulse/desire to share with anyone in particular yet. Maybe they had the most amazing they ever took and wanted to share that as well.

Other examples of these kind of works include:

  • timmikulaisgreat.com – a secret santa gift I curated for the man himself… asking the crowd to write reasons why they thought Tim was great. This content was aggregated in a database of nearly 165 reasons Tim is great.
  • thecouriers.org – a collaboration with amazing Winnipeg Artist Caitlin Curtis… we used Amazon Turk to collect lost love letters. One day we will improvise on lost love letters, finally bringing some finality to their purgatory-like existence.

There are 60 photos in the gallery as it stands… if I forgot your photo, please email (or facebook) it to me. I can always add more in.

Without further adieu, here is the collection:

Several Funny Kory Videos

Sometimes I make funny videos, lots of times these are done in collaboration with the wonderful improvisors of Rapid Fire Theatre.

First check out this sweet trailer for TEDxRFT:

Here is a full TEDxRFT show:

Here is a full 6 Degrees of Science show:

This video won a Canadian Comedy Award!

This video was made in conjunction with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues for the 2013 Community League Day.

These commercials were made with the increcible team over at Reel Mensch Productions and Kia West Edmonton:

These two next videos were made in collaboration with the Office of Student Judicial Affairs, University of Alberta, and Townend Films

Rapid Fire Theatre Sketches


Older Improvisational Performances

Run For Your Life

1006029_10100224572622665_852945802_nRunning allows for introspection, for clarity of mind, and free thought. There is an isolation, freedom of constraint both physical and mental, and an allowance for ideas to come and go as freely as each step lands. There is no one dictating the path you must take, and no expectation on your performance, other than those that you impose upon yourself. We run for health, for fitness, for travel. We run because it is the best way to take in a city. We run to get closer to something we love, and we run away from that which brings us pain.

As  Haruki Murakami states in his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running:

I run to seek a void.

This void, the all unknowing, kilometer 7 of a 10km run, or kilometer 37 of a 42km marathon, this is the freedom from thought that some runners thirst for. These sentiments are echoed in Mark Sutcliffe’s book, Why I Run:

But sometimes, as long as you’re not in the middle of a crowded race or on a trail run through the forest or wallowing in self-pity, it can be helpful to look at the road behind you. You may find it reassuring to see how far you’ve come.

Running allows us to progress forward through space and time, and to quantify that progression. Seldom in life are we granted such an opportunity to see a goal ahead of us, and have in our arsenal the tools we need to achieve said goal. With running we have everything we need, at all times. We have our body, and our mind. We don’t have excuses, and justifications, we need not our voice, or the voice of any others. We don’t need music, or ambient sound. We exist in a vacuum filled with oxygen rich air, a paradox of sorts, where we have nothing, and nothing is all we need. We exist in a Void. I thoroughly enjoyed The Oatmeal’s take on the idea of The Void, particularly this quote:

But when I run, the world grows quiet.

This void, this senseless existence is the paradise we seek, where we could run forever, is sometimes filled with thoughts. Happy, sad, jealous, envious, angry, mad, exalted, benevolent thoughts that range the gambit of emotion. And so seldom are we granted an opportunity to explore these thoughts of others. We live with these thoughts step by step on the trail, and they exist for fleeting moments, or are stewed upon for run after run, day after day… but they exist in this void. I never had considered asking others what they were thinking while running past them on our anti-parallel paths, it is some what of an unspoken rule, that you cannot breach their Void. Lucky not everyone feels this inhibited.

This idea of prying into the minds of runners as their thoughts run wild is explored in a beautiful new short film by Matan Rochlitz, Ivo Gormley. From The Runners:

Liberated from responsibilities, their guards drop dramatically, releasing funny and brutally frank confessions, and weaving a powerful narrative behind the anonymous masses.

It captures the beauty of the thoughts we have as runners, and shares them, so candidly, with the public.

Running is physical activity, so each run I start, and finish, I literally consider that I am running for my life. Each step I take propels me forward toward my goals, each breath I take inspires me to continue, each path is a new adventure waiting to happen,  and each run fills my head with more ideas than I could ever keep…