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April 22nd, 2013

From the wilds of Beaverton

Beaverton still doesn't make much sense to me. I'm not over there enough to get a good picture of it. The town somehow seems larger than Portland; I at least get a sense of Portland's neighborhoods, so Portland is easily divided up into bits I can picture, but not of Beaverton. There, it feels like a big single neighborhood. There, I need a map.

I used to be a little better at navigating Beaverton. I was over there more often in the 1990s, before I lived in Portland proper and was more likely to be staying at Mom and Dad's place in Dundee. Beaverton was closer than Portland; that was it. But my trips to Beaverton were pretty functional: almost entirely to go shopping, at Washington Square Mall, Circuit City, or Beaverton Mall before it was renamed Cedar Hills Crossing. This was before that mall had Powell's (whose Beaverton location back then was across the highway from Washington Square) but when that mall had Tower Records. I still miss Tower. The point is, I'd go over to Beaverton to get stuff, not necessarily do stuff. I wouldn't even go to films over there, and back then I went to lots of films. (And I should have; back then Beaverton still had the theater that was one of the few theaters to show Star Wars on its opening day in May 1977.)

I also have trouble wanting to walk in Beaverton, even though I do it sometimes. I habitually walked in very walking-unfriendly bits of Northern Virginia and I do plenty of walking around Portland (like the eight miles Saturday); so at least in many places, I still want to walk. Walking in the bits of Beaverton I tend to be in? Not encouraged. Not even near the Max stations I sometimes use.

Beaverton feels to me like a suburb that grew, well, you know, wherever. There was less room for a grid than in Portland, and there were more hills and ravines to build around. And where there was room, what I've seen of what got built doesn't seem all that distinctive. I keep not finding the "there" there. (I do even worse at picturing Aloha, between Beaverton and Hillsboro but I'm never quite sure exactly where between them.)

So going to Beaverton yesterday, I made sure to use a map. And notes. I'd meant to finally visit the Beaverton location of the comics shop Things From Another World, but on previous visits to the town I'd kept missing it. Turns out you're not likely to just stumble on the Beaverton TFAW, even though it's only a block off of Canyon Road, one of Beaverton's main drags. But I got the address, checked it against the map, and saw that in the past I'd indeed passed within a block of the store.

It's on a short, slightly oddball street called Lloyd Ave, with a building exterior that's not all that distinctive (and shared with a used-furniture place with chairs for sale outside and a sign in the door saying that if you want to buy a chair while no one's there, leave the money under the door please). It's across Lloyd from an average-sized strip mall with a couple of resturants, including Pho Hung, a soup place a few friends of mine especially like, so hey, I found that, too. I parked in the strip mall's lot and finally got to the place.

I found out from the clerk working the store that day that a lot of people have trouble finding it. (Another customer in there at the time said Lloyd Ave. made him think of Lloyd Center, which is way the heck over in NE Portland and has nothing to do with this one block of Beaverton.) I also learned that the store had been there for at least 20 years, so it's been part of Dark Horse Comics for much of the time there's been a Dark Horse Comics. The clerk said that on the floor, Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson and others on Dark Horse's then-small publishing staff laid out the first issue of their anthology Dark Horse Presents. "There's history in here," the clerk said.

After that stop, I made one more stop at Beaverton Square for grocery shopping; there I took the time to wander around the shopping center and see what's worth seeing. Walking where I don't feel I'll get run over is a relieving thing. Beaverton Square's main building, across from a Fred Meyer, is built to look from the inside like it's two stories tall, but with decorative openings for what would've been second-floor windows, letting in outside light. This part of the square also had an open roof, so I had the somewhat unfortunate association of thinking it looked like the facade of a building that had mostly fallen, or gotten bombed out. It also makes me wonder if you're allowed to be on Beaverton Square's roof and look through those open windows from the other way.

I got one more reminder that I'm not as up on Beaverton's layout as I should be when I started east down Hwy. 10, Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, to head home. I thought as I headed east that I was already east of the Thrift Store for Cat Adoption Team, run by good person Bobbie Winchell and a place where I've donated stuff. Turns out I drove past it. I thought Oh. I guess I was deeper in Beaverton than I thought. I also briefly considered stopping in and saying hi, but decided not to because of the groceries I needed to get home, and also because I need to gather up more stuff to donate to the thrift store.

Anyway. More places seen!