Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Voodoo Doughnuts, volcanos with pee, and Vaux's Swifts (Portlandia A to Z)

Voodoo Doughnuts

Of course, I couldn't do a Portlandia tour without mentioning Voodoo Doughnuts, could I? They are world famous, and we've had visitors from the UK and Japan who are desperate to go there. (We've learned that the Voodoo outpost on the east side has shorter lines.) Read the interesting story about how Voodoo Doughnuts got started here.

Voodoo is known for its outlandish creations, funky decor, long lines, and the fact that you can get married there!

Voodoo makes a lot of top doughnut cities lists...America's Best Doughnuts, Food & Wine's America's Best Doughnuts, Travel & Leisure's America's Best Donuts, USA Today's America's 12 Best Donut Shops, and Bon Appetit's Top 10 Best Places for Donuts.

Voodoo has two shops in Portland, one in Eugene, and one in Denver, Colorado now. I actually didn't go to Voodoo until last year. I think they are a little overrated considering the effort one must go through to buy them. I would never wait in a line for more than half an hour or so to buy doughnuts! :)
My personal favorite--maple/bacon bar!
I must try the competing Blue Star Donuts, which I have heard are fabulous. But Voodoo Doughnuts are totally fun...especially when you want to cheer up a friend who's had a bad week with the Cock and Balls (I made my second trip to Voodoo to buy this for her):
Voodoo Doughnuts' Cock and Balls
 (filled with cream, of course!)

Volcanos with Pee

I've already written about Mount St. Helens (which  is not in Portland but we have a view of it), but Portland also has a volcano within its city limits: Mount Tabor, named after the mountain in Israel. Portland is one of only four cities in the United States to have an extinct volcano. It's a city park, and the neighborhood around the park is also called Mount Tabor. In fact, the volcano was not discovered until 1912, years after reservoirs and the park were developed on it.

View from Mt. Tabor Park
Mount Tabor has been in the national news lately because last week, a teenager was being a teenager and peed in the water reservoir there. In a true Portlandia moment, some bright spark at the Portland Water Bureau decided that this urination moment was worth draining 38 million gallons of water from the reservoir. It seems ridiculous given the sheer volume of water compared to the pee, and the fact that unpure rain or bird pee is already landing in the water.

According to Slate magazine, some Twitter folks calculated that said teenager would have had to pee in the water 166,666 times (for 3,500,000 seconds or 40 days) to produce a urine concentration that approaches EPA's limit for nitrates in drinking water.

Not that I want to think about pee in my drinking water, but California is in the midst of a drought. Climate change is causing a huge problem with fresh water scarcity around the world. Why on earth would we waste this fresh, treated water by dumping it because of a little pee? Yes, this is my ridiculous city.
There are signs around the reservoirs in Portland's Mount Tabor Park that warn against putting anything in the water. They apparently didn't dissuade one young man from urinating into the city's drinking supply this week.
Mt. Tabor Reservoir (before draining)
Vaux's Swifts

Vaux's Swift
Each fall since the early 1980s, thousands of Vaux's Swifts have been migrating to Portland to roost in the chimney of Chapman Elementary School. Vaux's Swift is a small swift native to North America and northern South America, and this is North America's largest concentration of Vaux's Swifts. 
Acrobatic birds
Every evening from mid-August to mid-October, the swifts gather in the sky over the school. Right before sunset, they dive into the brick chimney to roost inside until they fly out again at sunrise. Sometimes as many as 2,000 Portlanders arrive to set up chairs and have picnics on the lawn each evening to watch the migration. The swifts started coming to Chapman after deforestation destroyed much of their habitat--old growth Douglas-fir and forest snags. Vaux's Swifts like roosting in hollow trees. The school is on the birds' migratory path to Central America and Venezuela. 
Swift spectators
Read my other A to Z posts here, and stay tuned for tomorrow: Washington and Watefront Parks.


  1. This is cool, I learned something new again!

  2. Another great post! The Maple Bacon Bar is my favorite at voodoo doughnut as well. And, I used to live just down the street from Chapman School, so I've seen the swifts on a number of occasions. As much as I enjoy living in Vantucky, you're making me nostalgic for Portland! :D