Tell me about St. Paul, OR
June 2, 2009 9:02 AM   Subscribe

What can you tell me about St. Paul, Oregon and the Willamette Valley?

I am considering taking a job just outside of St. Paul and know nothing about the area and won't get a chance to go there before accepting the job. It seems pretty agricultural and conservative. Is this accurate? I'm a little surprised at how 'western' it seems, being so close to Portland. What is there to do around there? Are there good hiking / camping / restaurants / brewpubs / other crunchy liberal sorts of things etc to be had? I will have a car to get around, but not much money to spend. Will I die of boredom?
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation around St. Paul, OR (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ya got Portland, a city with immense charm and a modern view on transport and planning, ya got Eugene down the road, a city with hippies and a nice leafy green life style. As for outdoorsy things ya got a mountain range nearby, rolling farmland for biking and rivers all over the place.
posted by Freedomboy at 9:06 AM on June 2, 2009

Where are you now? Even the most conservative parts of Oregon are still pretty liberal in many respects, especially compared to other parts of the country.
posted by peep at 9:11 AM on June 2, 2009

No, you will not die of boredom. The ocean is less than 1.5 hours away, there's a casino 40 minutes away (but you mentioned you had no money to spend, so forget that part), Mt. Hood is 1.5 hours to the northeast, the cascade range in general has a million places to hike, the coast range is even closer, etc. The smaller Oregon counties tend to be more conservative, but you will be surprised how wide the range is. A lot of liberal people live in smaller towns and have jobs in Portland or Salem or whatever and just commute to work; rural life in Oregon is really nice. The weather rarely gets too hot or too cold. If you don't like clouds, however, you shouldn't move here. It rains a lot and even on non-rainy days can be quite overcast. I've lived in Oregon almost my whole life and I'd say we get about 5 months of phenomenally sunny and warm weather, 5 months of somewhat rainy but still nice weather and 2 months of utter, bleak, stormy rainclouds every day.

I've never lived in St. Paul so I can't tell you what it's like there. I've spent a lot of time in Dallas and Salem, however, so memail me if you'd like more info on those places (half-hour drive to either, tops.)
posted by Happydaz at 9:20 AM on June 2, 2009

In St. Paul itself, there are pretty much none of the things you list. A little further afield, though, there are all of the things on your list - there's good hiking/camping an hour or two east of St. Paul (and further, all of Eastern Oregon is great for hiking and camping but Oregon's a big damn state so it depends on how much you want to drive), there's a ton of good restaurants and brewpubs in Portland (and a few in Salem), and the Oregon coast is beautiful and less than two hours from St. Paul.

To answer your question about dying of boredom, though, the answer unfortunately is "it depends". If you're used to living a medium-to-big size city, and taking advantage of the amenities of cities like that, yes, you'll die of boredom - St. Paul is small. Very small. If, however, you don't mind having to get into the car and drive an hour to get to cool stuff, you'll be fine.

And yeah, once you get outside the Portland/Eugene areas, Oregon is fairly conservative - but Oregon's brand of rural conservatism is more libertarian - it's more "leave me the hell alone to live my life" than "Rush Limbaugh is awesome!" if that makes sense.
posted by pdb at 9:25 AM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

St. Paul has an awesome rodeo every year on July 4. If you've never been to a rodeo, you really have to give it a try!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:46 AM on June 2, 2009

Had to look up where it was.. yeah, St. Paul is small and looks very solidly ag. Unless there's some underground farming movement thing around, it's going to be pretty conservative (but as pdb said, more on the libertarian end). It's really not very close to Portland at all. It'd still be a slough getting into the city. There's also not going to be a ton of good hiking until you get to the coast range, which is on the other side of McMinnville, or the Cascades, which are on the other side of the valley. Not too far away, but you can certainly have better options living in Oregon and wanting to be active.

Basically, Oregon has a lot of Really Cool Shit, and you're vaguely near a lot of it, but you'll have to make a major effort to get there. If you're proactive about it, it's totally doable (but expect to put a lot of miles on your car traipsing up to Portland and back). If you're the type that won't go out unless there's something happening on your street, yeah, you're going to die of boredom.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:09 AM on June 2, 2009

Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, and their suburbs are very urban/hippie/liberal/etc.

Outside, or on the very edges, of those cities - it is very much like rural Texas. I can say this with certainty because I lived in Oregon for ten years and then moved to rural Texas. You will be moving to a town that is named "St. Paul" and whose main thoroughfare is "Church St." -- if you think you're moving to a small liberal community, you're in for a giant shock. However, everyone else is right about the distance to more positive amenities. It's really not that far. And even Woodland is nice. (Matt Haughey, MeFi User #1, and several other internet celebs that hang out here on MeFi live in the Woodland area.)

As a liberal living in a rural area, I've taken the opportunity to slow my life down a bit and kind of pull myself in, slow down, and re-center my life. I garden, I do a lot of volunteer work, I've learned a lot more about cooking and I have dogs now.

Beyond that, what pdb said about Oregon's version of conservatism. However, the thing that did get on my nerves with Oregon vs. Texas is that people will incessantly invite you to their church or to participate in their political activities. That's 99% absent in other conservative parts of the country because people just generally assume you already go to church, and they have no need to recruit you.
posted by SpecialK at 11:14 AM on June 2, 2009

Just noticed the nearest bridge across the Willamette is all the way up by Newberg, too. You're probably looking at half an hour or more to get to hiking in the coast range (I don't see many roads marked that go into the hills until pretty far south of where you'd end up, but I'm sure there are trail heads if you know where to look - the first thing you should do is go to a bike shop in McMinnville or somewhere like that and get a trail map of the area). There are almost certainly pockets of woods and some nice trails on the valley floor, but you should be thinking 'short walk,' not 'hike' for those.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:18 AM on June 2, 2009

St Paul has access to the east by using the highway that goes through Silverton (Hwy 213). To go west you'd go through Salem/Grand Ronde (Hwy 22). Mt Angel (to the SE) has an awesome Octoberfest each year and a huge Benedictine Monastery.

Rural Oregon is, well, different. I lived in Monmouth for a year and a half (further SW from St Paul). Very flat, very agricultural. You'd think it's conservative until you find the commune located out of town or that the community center has a yoga circle. Russian Old Believers, Mennonites, Latino migrants, organic farmers, gun nuts, whatever. It's strange.
posted by fiercekitten at 11:59 AM on June 2, 2009

You will flat out go crazy if you are single and living in a town like St. Paul. We can't even hang on to singles here in the capitol. Oregon is an incredible, scenic, wonderful state full of...people... (say it like Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood). But if it's a job you don't mind commuting to then look into planting yourself anywhere north on the I5 corridor and you should be fine. Yes, there's way too much religion but welcome to non-urban America.
posted by docpops at 3:02 PM on June 2, 2009

I grew up a few towns over from St. Paul, and currently work in rural Oregon. As a single 20-something there are a few towns in rural Oregon where I think I could live, and St. Paul is not one of them. Rural Oregon has it's own quirkyness. St. Paul is beautiful, agricultural, conservative, religious, and small. You could live in Wilsonville or Sherwood and commute to work in St. Paul, which would position you much closer to Portland and would allow you to get to public transportation to Portland. Sherewood and Wilsonville are suburbs though and the "country" is certainly more pleasant. St. Paul is very close to Champoeg state park which is a great park on the Willamette River. And, again, the Rodeo is a big happening there.

Most places you live in the Willamette Valley is close to good hiking / camping / restaurants / brewpubs. What does "outside of St. Paul" mean exactly? Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.
posted by Packy_1962 at 3:47 PM on June 2, 2009

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