In the last two weeks, I checked two new western states off my bucket list—Nevada and Oregon. First, in late March, I flew to Las Vegas for the Jewish Federations of North America's TribeFest. Then, last weekend, I headed back west to Portland, where my sister, her husband, and their three sons recently moved, to share the Passover seders with my family.
I don't think I could imagine two cities with more contrasting, unique vibes and populations than these two metropolises—even though the states actually border one another on the map.
Here are some of the differences I observed:
In Portland, the word "green" refers to saving the earth and the lushness of the flora.
In Vegas, the word "green" refers to the color of money.
In Portland, women wear almost no makeup paired with jeans and Patagonia fleeces.
In Vegas, women wear lots of makeup paired with flashy, clingy, ultra-short outfits. Is it a shirt? Is it dress? Who cares—anything goes in Vegas.
In Portland, you're always 30 seconds from a bike rack.
In Vegas, you're always 30 seconds from a casino.
In Portland, if you want rain, you'll have to wait five minutes.
In Vegas, if you want rain, you'll have to make your way to a club called "Rain."
(By the way, Portland averages 35 inches of rain a year, while Vegas rains only about four inches per year.)
In Portland, you're always in the Pacific Time Zone.
In Vegas, you always feel like it's Saturday night.
In Portland, you practice environmentalism.
In Vegas, you practice hedonism.
In Portland, you can eat sustainable, organic, and locally grown food any time you want.
In Vegas, you can eat all you-can-eat buffets any time you want.
In Portland, you're never far from a hipster, a hiker, or a vegetarian or vegan.
In Vegas, you're never far from a stripper, an Elvis impersonator, or a drunk bachelor or bachelorette.
Both cities have their merits, but only in one of these cities was I able to watch my one-year-old nephew take his first steps this past weekend. So, really, it's not a fair contest.