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Welcome to Portland: Where the guy with the knife is running away
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I don’t ever plan on leaving California.
As much as this crazy place gets slammed by disgruntled residents – and as much as the current administration wants to make life difficult for the people who live here – there’s really nothing like living in a place where I can be skiing down a mountain as the sun rises and riding an ocean wave as the sun sets.
It just takes a little bit of driving and dedication.
Having seen all corners of this wide and expansive country, I feel most home here in The Golden State and would be content never putting any other state down on the address line of any mundane form I have to fill out at some point in the future.
But there are exceptions.
The Pacific Northwest – for all its reputation as being dark, drizzly and dismal – is one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever been, particularly in the summer, and the relaxed pace of life in places like Portland and Seattle are very much my speed.
That’s why I was so excited when my wife told me that she had booked a trip for the two of us to get away for her birthday weekend to Rip City. Having never been, and having heard me drone on endlessly about how much I loved the funky feel, the weird vibe, and the political bent of the city of bridges – of Stumptown – she decided she had to see it for herself.
Well, that’s not actually true. My knowledge base for Portland is outdated by about a decade after spending some summers up there in my younger day. Apparently since then it has become a destination for farm-to-table foodies who love the back-to-the-land attitude blended with the urban feel of the midsized port town. So for that, I have Food Network to thank for her interest in going to one of the only other places I would ever want to call home.
Things, however, have changed a lot in the city that I fell in love with not all that long ago. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 37 high-rise cranes rising above Downtown Portland and dotted along the “Eastside” as buildings, offices and condos rise from the damp surroundings. Entire city blocks have been consumed by food trucks, and revered restaurants and breweries seem like they’re on just about every single corner.
And it all starts at the airport. Coming to town for one of the famous Blue Star donuts? Just 20 paces outside of PDX’s secure area is a counter where you can get your fix. Take a few more steps towards the exit and you can have some of Stumptown’s famous coffee.
And as those of us in Manteca have learned, with growth comes some elements that aren’t always the most desirable.
After spending Friday night dining at one of the coolest restaurants I have ever been to – 30-plus stories above the Downtown skyline eating a steak that was better than anything I have ever eaten – Amber revealed the next part of her plan, which was to take in a comedy show.
We spent the Saturday doing things that you can only do in Portland. When it came time we headed down to get our tickets and enjoy a little bit of laughter to overcome the nasty cold that was threatening to sideline both of us.
And after checking in, we realized that Voodoo Donuts – the funky punk-rock inspired chain that the city has made famous – was only a few blocks away. Why don’t we walk down, she said, and grab a donut before the show?
We weren’t more than two blocks away when all of a sudden a scuffle broke out down by the Willamette River. One guy comes barreling towards us carrying something that I can’t quite make out in the misty street light. Another is trudging along right behind him, shouting something obscenity-laden that I couldn’t hear save for the choice words. It took a split second to realize that this wasn’t good, and they were headed right before us.
Then the lens focused and I realized the guy in front was carrying a rather large, non-folding knife as he sprinted our way. Was he coming our way? Was he running from the guy behind him? A lot of thoughts went through my head as I walked in front and turned back at my wife, and within seconds they went barreling right past us – a crazy reminder of the crazy place we had decided to spend our weekend.
“Welcome to Portland,” I said jokingly as my heart started to slow down.
She gave me a look that I will never forget.
Manteca may have its problems with homelessness and vagrancy, but we’re still a ways away from people with knives sprinting past people in the street while being chased by presumably more dangerous people.
For whatever that’s worth.

Happy Birthday
This will hit print a day late, but I wanted to say happy birthday to my father, David Campbell, who celebrated the start of his 60th year on this earth on Jan. 25.
To say that I’ve been blessed with parents that love me, care about me, and would move mountains for me is an understatement of epic proportions. While I didn’t always understand him, and to be honest, sometimes still don’t, I know that they broke the mold on that cold January day that he graced a hospital nursery in Eureka.
And while it used to annoy me when I was starting out in this job and just starting to get to know people that he had known for years, the words “how is your dad doing” have grown into an affirmation of the tremendous amount of respect that I have for the man that helped bring me into this world. Nobody works harder, cares more, or laughs as much as he does, and if I can pass nothing else along to my son it will his wild and often times unpredictable spirit that can light up a room with its presence.
I haven’t always been this introspective and insightful about my father – that’s a cross that every son has to bear at some point in time in their lives. But if for nothing else, I’m grateful that I was able to gain this insight while I still had the chance to both learn from him, and share in some of his profound wisdom and gentle grace.
You are a good man, David Campbell, and I’m proud to say that I’m your son. May your next year be full of grandchildren, fishing and football – all of the things that you love.
There are a few kind words for you Old Man, now go find a place to lay your weary head.
You’ve more than earned it.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.