The city of Portland, Oregon, is divided into five “quadrants.” The Willamette River divides east from west, Burnside St. divides north from south. So there are the Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest quadrants. But there is a fifth quadrant to the northwest of the Northeast quadrant that extends out onto the peninsula formed where the Willamette empties into the Columbia River, and this is North Portland, or “NoPo.”

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in all four quadrants, but had only traveled to North Portland once, in the evening, so this area was pretty unfamiliar to me. However, last Sunday, on returning from the airport, my daughter and I took a series of wrong turns and found we were on our way to NoPo. We decided to go with that; I had long wanted to see the St. John’s Bridge in person, so we chose to cross it as we continued to wend our way home.

On the way to the bridge we traveled through the center of the St. John’s neighborhood and were charmed by it, and we decided to return soon to have a better look around.

So yesterday we spent the afternoon in St. John’s, walking about the neighborhood center, enjoying people enjoying their Saturday. The children were being treated to an early trick-or-treat afternoon by local businesses and the streets were happy and cheerful.

We stopped in at Starbucks, where it was busy; the tables and counters were crowded, with everyone using a laptop or netbook, plus there were trick-or-treaters dancing in and out. As I carried my bag with an apple fritter and started out the door, a tiny boy came through the door first and demanded of me, “Trick or Treat!” I smiled at him and told him I didn’t have anything for him, but there was a big basket of candy just over there on the counter, and his face lit up as he smiled back.

We walked across the street to the park; no sooner had we sat down when we noticed a parrot walking on the low wall behind our bench. I got up to take his picture, but he kept sidling away:

I followed him a bit and then stepped around in front of him and asked, “Would you hold still a minute while I take your picture?” He stood very still for about 15 seconds:

I snapped the picture and said, “Thank you!” and a moment later he began screeching loudly, “HELP! HELP!” I told him I just took his picture, it was nothing to get excited about, and soon his owner, who had been conversing with a group of people nearby, came over, told him he was all right, and the bird gratefully hopped up on his shoulder. I watched as they walked away, the man continually talking to his parrot, who seemed enthralled with everything his owner had to say.

At that moment I turned around and saw a good view of the bridge from the park. Yesterday’s fog had never lifted completely, and though the day was sunny, the hills across the river were misty, and the bridge, rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a 15-year-old girl who was murdered there, looked eerily mystical:

(do click on this picture to enlarge it)

With that, we worked our way back to the car, stopping into a bookstore and a market/cafe along the way, then drove down the east side of Portland and back home through downtown. It was a nice afternoon, and it reminded me that of Portland’s 95 designated neighborhoods, there were still probably 40-45 I hadn’t yet visited, but those are for other weekends to come…

4 thoughts on “NoPo

    • Thanks! Portland has some impressive bridges, but the St. John’s is truly the most beautiful. It’s 80 years old this year!

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