After a week and half of journeying about, I finally find myself back in my beloved St. Paul. Scraggly beard, chapped lips, haven’t showered in two days, swinging my bulky luggage around like a skilled crane operator. I feel just fine.

Taking the train and gallivanting through several cities allowed me to compare what we have going on locally and regionally. As primary examples, I will put forward Seattle and Portland.

Seattle made me feel on edge. It was a beautiful city with exemplary attention to detail. I am a nooks and cranny’s kind of guy, so most of my trip was spent finding the lesser known (i.e., less crowded) spots. I was not disappointed. Well, I was, but for a different reason. Riddled throughout this detailed landscape was a baffling homeless population. Tents, people digging in trash, arguing in the streets, being honked at by residents, and so much more. The prevalence of the homeless population in Seattle made me feel as though I could be hustled, threatened, or attacked at any moment. These fears were highlighted by me seeing a homeless person being arrested and dropping a pipe in the middle of a busy plaza in my first hour there. Time and place… right?

Portland was more laid back. Maybe a bit too laid back. The city itself seemed to be under kept, but this was my impression on the first day there as I had only been in the Chinatown area/downtown. It seemed as though Parks and Rec didn’t really care about certain parts of the city. On my return trip, I was able to spend another 5-6 hours and able to explore the city in a different way. I saw the Saturday Market, filled with vendors and really, Portland’s identity. This I would describe as the network, IFC, has historically described itself, “always on, slightly off.” Portland was kind of weird, kind of dirty, but definitely interesting.

St. Paul, I missed it! I know I would be biased to a particular region because I live there, but it strikes me as a happy medium between Seattle and Portland. Less pretentious than Seattle, but still comparable! Try Minnesota nice. In turn it is also cleaner than Portland. I feel as though this is an opportunity for the Twin Cities to grow and boast what we’ve got! Be proud of it, thrive with it. We can grow to the level of Seattle, I just hope that we are able to fend off issues that they contend with on a larger scale, like homelessness.

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