July 21st, 2010 WW Editorial Staff | Special Section Stories
 

Best Places

     
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Best Place to Find Your Feet



Diane Daybreak. IMAGE: Darryl James

For over 100 years, the Oregon Artificial Limb Co. (21 NE 7th Ave.) has been making new legs, feet and arms for locals who find themselves short of one or two. Owner Diane Daybreak inherited the company from her dad, a rodeo cowboy who lost a leg in the Korean War. A photo of him literally getting back on the horse postwar hangs defiantly in the entrance of the building that has housed the company for the past 30 years.

Staunchly proud of her company’s long history in the city, Daybreak is adamant that she and her team—many of whom also wear prosthetic limbs—offer as much a community service as they do a business. “Nobody should be without a leg,” she says firmly. “We never turn anyone away because they can’t pay.”

Staff meet with new amputees while they’re still recovering in the hospital, often after major surgeries or accidents. “And that’s where all the fun starts!” says prosthetist Glenn Kays, with a chuckle. “We get to be the good guys, where the surgeon is the bad guy—he cuts it off, and we’re putting it back on!”

Even after losing a limb, many Portlanders are keen to get back running, riding and mountain-climbing. Kays and fellow prosthetist James Parsons spend hours working with clients and weeks tinkering away in the company’s workshop to design, create and customize the perfect new appendage, which can be fitted out with robotic knees, fake skin, hidden coin pouches and even custom prints—flames, camouflage and football team logos are the most popular requests.

But getting a new pair of feet isn’t like buying a new pair of sneakers, Daybreak explains—it’s a lifetime relationship for both the client and the company. “We consider the people who come to us friends. Some have been coming for 60 years…. One of the cornerstones of the company is that we take whatever time people need to get the right fit. We have an open checkbook when it comes to time with each patient.” RUTH BROWN.

Best Car Cleaners


Looking to get your ride de-filthed before your in-laws show up? Head for Washman Auto Spas (1530 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 255-9111, washmanusa.com). You’d be hard-pressed to find a better spit shine for your ride for the price. Here’s the drill: $49 gets you a good wash, tire shine and your choice of hand waxing or interior cleaning (if you want both, it’s $74). These prices are $30 to $80 below comparable detailers in town. Your car deserves a hand wax at the beginning and end of each summer. The best time to stop by is early in the morning. You can also call to see about the wait before heading over. Detailing hours are 8 am to 4 pm daily. Allow 90 minutes to 2 hours. Then check things out carefully; Washman’s detailers are happy to perform final touch-ups. And don’t forget the tip. RICHARD MEEKER.

Best Cycle College


Once upon a time, aspiring frame-builders had to make a long trek down south to train under the wise masters at Ashland’s United Bicycle Institute. Now, they don’t even have to leave town to learn professional brazing and welding, which is why you can’t swing a TIG welder these days without hitting a new bike-builder. As a graduate of UBI Ashland, I can attest to the quality of my education in bike mechanics. Going in, I barely knew a threadless headset from my elbow, but within days I was building wheel sets with the best of ’em. My only regret is that the new Portland location (3961 N Williams Ave., bikeschool.com) wasn’t open in 2005—maybe then I wouldn’t have spent two weeks reliving my dorm years, prank-calling Ashland hippies all night and drinking Jägermeister from a stranger’s CamelBak. CAITLIN GIDDINGS.

Best Former Meth Den


Rarely are turnarounds so complete. The former Becken’s Winning Hand Tavern, at Southeast Woodstock Boulevard and 82nd Avenue, was busted in 2006 for selling drugs across the bar; patrons placed their orders on Keno slips and handed them (with money) to bar owner Timothy Becken, who filled their order for meth, coke, pills or whatever else he had. While at least one other bar had been suspected of selling drugs, according to OLCC regional manager Carl Lewis, “This is the first time I know of where they were caught with both the cash and the drugs on the premises.” Let’s be fair: Becken was by everyone’s account a good-hearted guy, a former marathon runner and champion pool player, but his bar was downright atavistic. Not only the occasional seat cushion but also the carpet, tables and sign were held together by reams of duct tape. A tree that had fallen onto the back porch was left to rot. The homeless slept in corner booths, and the bathrooms weren’t discussed. How surprising, then, that The Lion’s Eye Tavern (5919 SE 82nd Ave., 774-1468) has turned out to be such a boon to the neighborhood since it opened at the same location in February of 2009. The new proprietress, Erin Wagner, tore out the phone booth and video-crack machines, refelted the pool tables, hired a local muralist for the back patio and installed eight taps of discerningly picked microbrews and micro-microbrews (along with up to 50 bottles in her fridges). The bar’s one of the few in town that gets Ninkasi’s limited-edition releases, and pool tournaments on Sundays offer free barbecue for the players. Wagner is pretty enough and buoyantly welcoming enough that the whole thing is almost hilariously Pollyanna-esque, the aftermath of an ’80s-movie brighten-the-corners montage. We repeat: Best. Former. Meth Den. Ever. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Best Sewing School


If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next Seth or Leanne, then walk through the teal door of Portland Sewing in the Hollywood District (2111 NE 43rd Ave., portlandsewing.com). “A couple of my students have gone on Project Runway, ” says Paris-trained expert sewing instructor Sharon Blair, who owns the business. “To see them progress to that level and start realizing their dreams, that’s what it’s all about for me.” Classes can fill up in a matter of hours, with students so enthusiastic they arrive 30 minutes before class. While courses on draping and business aim to help designers starting their own lines, other classes teach the basics—such as threading a sewing machine. Blair is meticulous­—her students will never place buttonholes on the wrong side of a men’s shirt. DENISE CASTAÑON.

Best Immortalized Shoe Repair


Dorian Butcher first started to notice the phenomenon about a year ago. “These guys would come into my shop and just stare at the ceiling,” he says. “I don’t know if they were making a pilgrimage from Texas or what.” It seems everyone everywhere knew that Portland mainstay Dorian’s Shoe Repair (611 SW 6th Ave., 223-0046) was where Britt Daniel got his boots fixed. (Britt’s in a band called Spoon; it’s popular.) In his song “Black Like Me,” Daniel had favored the same footwear-is-life wordplay as the Beatles in Rubber Soul, singing “I’m in need of someone to take care of me tonight/ As I walk into Dorian’s, can you see it in my eyes/ My boots are on the mend and they ain’t walking home/ Street tar and summer do a job on your sole.” Daniel had said in an Italian interview that on the night described in the song he was just as desperate as he sounded. “I can’t help with that,” said Dorian, “but I can help with the shoes.” MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Best Bike Rental



Kerr Bikes. IMAGE: Rachelle Hacmac

It’s 85 degrees outside and Ronny Jr. wants you to take him to the waterfront. Quick! You can either A) ignore him and keep preparing vegan potato curry for tomorrow’s Progressive Parents Potluck in the Park, B) pack the ol’ flask, smear sunscreen on Ronny while he plays make-simple-acts-10-times-harder and hightail it to some fountain for 20 minutes of look-at-me-I-can-splash, or C) gather the whole gang and head out for a sunny afternoon of family bike riding. But wait! Two adults and two kids biking together? How ever will it work? Most businesses only rent two-wheelers and tandems. Cue Kerr Bikes (1020 SW Naito Parkway, 808-9955, kerrbikes.org), the nonprofit saint of unusual bike rentals, with options like the two-seater tricycle Deuce Coupe, the Model T-shaped Double Surrey (fits four—wink, wink), Chopper tricycle, go-kart-like Quad Sport and the adventurously named Slingshot, which reverses the usual tricycle-wheel configuration. And all proceeds benefit Albertina Kerr Centers, the Portland organization that supports children and families with developmental disabilities. Here’s to socially responsible afternoon-savers! NATALIE BAKER.

Best Place to Run Through a Former Industrial Wasteland

Smith and Bybee Lakes. IMAGE: Finetooth

Columbia Slough, long a reeking, toxic wasteland at the edge of the city, has in the past decade become a pleasant-smelling, only slightly toxic marsh. Why? When the first stage of Portland’s Big Pipe project was completed in 2000, the Bureau of Environmental Services finally stopped dumping a foul brew of sewage and stormwater into the slough, turning Smith and Bybee Lakes into enormous poo ponds. These days, thanks to the reintroduction of native plants and animals and a strict no-poo policy, the slough is the best place in Portland for a scenic run or stroll. Take the MAX Yellow Line to the Delta Park/Vanport station and walk south, along the edge of Portland International Raceway to the Columbia Slough trail. Head west, past Heron Lakes golf course and north along North Portland Road, then west again along North Marine Drive’s separated bike lane. When the lane ends, head south again through the slough’s unpaved pedestrian trails. Take a deep breath. Smell that? No shit! BEN WATERHOUSE.

Best Reason for Eating French Fries

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if the exhaust coming from the car in front of you smelled less like airborne cancer and more like french fries? The mechanics at Green Drop Garage (1417 SE 9th Ave., 236-7767, greendropgarage.com) can convert any vehicle with a diesel engine to also run on vegetable oil (with french-fry-smelling exhaust). And while they’re tweaking your car, they’ll loan you a bicycle. Green Drop will also bike to your car, drive it in, fix it, drive it back and bike away, leaving your car clean and changed with fully recycled oil that comes at no extra change. How you like them taters, BP? PETER GRIFFIN.

Best Attempt to Make Light Of Divorce

Get yer prenups! Get yer postnups! Get yer kitchen table divorces! That last one with the quaint name is “the most basic service the Divorce Shoppe (8624 SE 13th Ave., divorceshoppe.com) offers” for couples who are still able to meet “around ‘the kitchen table,’ or some other comfortable location,” to discuss the big goodbye. The law practice is devoted entirely to divorce, separation and custody proceedings, and it is located in a 1910 storefront in the middle of historic Sellwood. The Shoppe also features an in-house bookstore, carrying titles such as Mama and Daddy Bear’s Divorce and Joint Custody With a Jerk. If you have to split, why not do it in style? CAITLIN MCCARTHY.

Best Thrift Shop for Suspenders and ’90s Playboys



Little Edie’s Five & Dime. IMAGE: Rachelle Hacmac

Little Edie’s Five & Dime (3120 N Williams Ave., 284-1051, littleediesfiveanddime.com) makes other secondhand clothiers look like overpriced Goodwill outlets. Tucked in a tiny shop next door to the Waypost, the wee boutique offers consistently unbeatable deals on vintage clothes that you’ll actually want to wear. Opened by Penelope Miller in August of 2008, the shop carries used board games, kitchenware, costume jewelry, magazines, a haphazard assortment of books and shoes and clothes for adults and children. Shoppers may find lots in the way of cowboy shirts (like a blue plaid one in mint condition I picked up for $12), leather boots and pretty blouses (I scored a silk polka dot number for $8). The stock at Little Edie’s is small but sweet, full of quirky, handpicked treasures. And your purchase is tallied on an old typewriter! ROXANNE MACMANUS.

Best Place to Talk to Strangers


Sure, friending people on Facebook is easier than striking up a conversation with someone you’ve never met. Unless you’re at Journeys in Multnomah Village (7771 SW Capitol Highway, 929-0229, journeyspdx.com). Take a seat at the cozy bar and you’re sure to have a memorable exchange that springs up naturally. The guy on your left may ask which of the six rotating beers you’ve tried. Maybe the barkeep offers to let you select the pub’s next playlist from his iPod. Or you may tell the couple browsing travel guides about your zip-line adventures in Costa Rica. Soon, you’re talking to actual people and ignoring Facebook chat requests. DENISE CASTAÑON.
 
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