Most days, Portland is a fine place to be. We enjoy an exceptional quality of life, with low rates of violent crime, a cost of living still well below that of other West Coast metropoles, and no megadroughts.
But the Fourth of July is not most days. You should be celebrating this nation's legacies of interventionism, economic imperialism, and hard-won freedoms with barbecues, brewskis, Bruce Springsteen and fireworks. Yet Oregon lawmakers are always trying to dampen the party.
Related: Safe & Sane Fireworks, Ranked
As a result, many Portlanders are forced to make one very specific annual pilgrimage. Just across the Columbia lies a freedomland of pyrotechnical debauchery. Vancouver is a place where Roman candles whistle over your shoulder and stupid little sparklers are seen only in the hands of the most asthmatic of 11-year-olds.
Would you like a piece of the American dream? Well, you can have it in Vancouver. Here's what you can do in the free state of Washington that you can't do here.
Related: Vancouver is a Suburb of Portland
Get some real fireworks!
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." —Thomas Jefferson
Fireworks are dangerous. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, they're responsible for 11 deaths a year. Eleven. Vending machines kill 13. You're twice as likely to die from a Champagne cork as from fireworks. But, by all means, let's pass law after law in the name of "safety" until America is the dystopian hellscape Suzanne Collins warned us aboutheadout.
Pump your own gas!
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." —Benjamin Franklin
Oregon is a nanny state where grown men and women—even the people who fought for this country, securing our freedom—are not entrusted with basic technology that functions safely in every other state that isn't basically just one big collection of trash bags caught on a chain-link fence (New Jersey). In Washington, you can fill the tank of your Chevy with $17.76 worth of premium without getting any side eye.
Buy some Sudafed!
"America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand." —Harry S. Truman
For the past decade, Oregon has had the strictest pseudoephedrine laws in the country. If you come down with a bad cold, you have to get a doctor's prescription to buy relief. In Washington, they simply track your purchases while still giving you medicine to breathe. Oregon continues to suffer a meth epidemic, but now you have to make an appointment with a doctor and wait next to a pill-seeking opioid addict rather than just standing behind a tweaker at the grocery store.
Buy a handle of Jack Daniels at the grocery store!
"Drinking Champagne is a perfectly acceptable way to celebrate being elected president…of France." —Jack Daniels
You might have to shell out a little extra for Old No. 7 on the Vancouver side of the river, but it's a small price to pay for the triumph of the private sector. In the freedom-loving state of Washington, the government knows not to come between the people and their liquor, and you don't see any state-sponsored socialist hooch hawkers either.
Pay no taxes!
"What a man has honestly acquired is absolutely his own, which he may freely give, but cannot be taken from him without his consent." —Samuel Adams
Our Founding Fathers waged a bloody rebellion that cost 25,000 patriotic American lives because they didn't want to pay taxes. Washington honors the memory of these fallen heroes by refusing to collect a state income tax, instead topping the "Terrible Ten" list of states with the most regressive tax systems in the country. Sure, Washington relies on a sales tax that disproportionately burdens the working poor, taxing the poorest 20 percent of its residents at a rate that's seven times higher than that for the wealthy, but flash your Oregon ID while buying Jack Daniels, Sudafed and Roman candles, and these trifles will fade away faster than you can Google the 16th Amendment.