There are few better ways to spend a June afternoon than at a riverfront table, and there are few riverfronts better than Portland's. So it was with great glee that I joined a girlfriend at a table along the Willamette River for a lunch of Dungeness crab and a Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley.
We were in downtown Portland, in an area once crowded with warehouses and industrial docks, south of the river's confluence with the Columbia River. But in the 1970s, an expressway was torn down to make room for Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which runs along the west bank of the Willamette.
Today it is dotted with interesting shops, restaurants that serve local seafood at outdoor tables and more joggers than you'll see in most downtowns. The waterfront park on the west and the esplanade on the east side draw thousands of people to jazz and blues festivals, and offer a beach, a marina, several green spaces and clusters of townhouses.
I've been to Portland only twice and don't know if the city lost anything -- wildlife habitat, low-income housing or other valuable assets -- in developing the riverfront. But as I watched the diners, the joggers and skaters, the people taking leisurely strolls along the water, the bicylists on a bridge and the kayak-rental place, I was not surprised that Portland is acclaimed as one of the nation's best cities for outdoors lifestyle.
This is one in a series of postcards by Marjie Lambert, assistant Travel editor, who has been to all 50 states.