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Too much excitement

October 4, 2009

Yes, it's really called Boring

I swear, I am not making this up. There really is a town near Portland named “Boring.”

And no, the name is not an editorial comment. The place was named after one W.H. Boring, an early resident of this unincorporated area.

In nearly three decades of regular visits and two stints of living in Portland, I somehow managed to avoid visiting Boring. Well, the sun was shining and the temperature was mild, so I decided to address this issue.

The simplest way to get there from Northeast is to hop on 82nd and head south to the intersection with Sunnyside Road. From there, turn left and go east.

The very moment I turned onto 82nd, the GTS’ low-fuel light came on. It being a cheesy, auto-oriented main drag, gas stations should be plentiful, right? I went past many sketchy motels, cheezy used-car lots and Chinese restaurants occupying former fast-food joints, but no gas station.

Finally, well south of Powell Boulevard (the furthest south I’d been on 82nd) I spy a 76 station and pull into the inner pump island. The attendant is engrossed in a cell-phone conversation, but pauses long enough to ask if I know how to work the pump. Sure, I say. Go for it, he says. He seems relieved.

One-point-819 gallons later, I am a fugitive from justice. Yes, in Oregon scooter and motorcycle riders can legally pump their own gas, but the attendant must supervise the operation, and replace the nozzle. This guy was still on his phone, carrying propane tanks. I put the nozzle back. No, thanks, no receipt needed. *beep!*

I wonder how this would work in New Jersey. It’s the only other state that doesn’t allow self-serve at gas stations.

Back on the road, and Sunnyside is not far. It forms the southern edge of Clackamas Town Center, which among other things used to have an ice rink where Tonya Harding practiced.

Unless your idea of scenic is noise-abatement walls, McMansions and apartment complexes clad in vinyl siding, Sunnyside road, well, isn’t. In some places, it’s a 6-lane mini freeway with a 50 mph speed limit.

Until you get to SE 172nd, that is. BAM!, you’re outside the Urban Growth Boundary, the landscape abruptly changing from the ‘burbs to the sticks. There are farms, there are small houses on acreage. Six lanes narrow down to two.

McCall's Store in Boring, Oregon

The sticks start to look exurban; this must mean Boring is close. There’s no “Welcome to Boring” sign on the road (the picture above is of one of the banners on the utility poles), just businesses with “Boring” in their names instead of “Damascus.”

I stop in what I guess you could call downtown Boring. McCall’s Store is the most distinctive building in a cluster of dive bars.

Having seen everything there is to see, I head back. Damascus is Oregon’s newest city, having been an unincorporated rural area like Boring. From the highway, it mostly looks like this.

A farm field in Damascus, Oregon

Damascus also contains the far end of SE Foster Road. Why not go that way? It’s not like there’s anything on Sunnyside Road that I need to see again.

Good choice, I say to myself at the GTS purrs along the pleasantly twisty two-lane. We roll on past houses, farms and fields, and not a lot of traffic. For a while, anyway.

The New Copper Penny

Orin O'Neill photos

The transition isn’t as abrupt, but you’ll definitely know you’re in the suburbs again. And from the suburbs, it’s not at all far to the scuzziness that is SE Portland. Favicon

UPDATE, April 27, 2012: Boring has entered into a sister-community relationship will Dull, Scotland. Really, I’m not making this up

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One Comment
  1. October 5, 2009 7:10 am

    Cool post Orin,
    Hope the excitement wasn’t too much for you.

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