Estacada: Why Aren't You There Yet?

While every other newspaper and magazine in town are popping out "Best of Portland" issues like a Gresham teen makes babies, let's be honest: How many times do you need to hear about how clarklewis and the Dixie Mattress Company are "the best"? That's why every year the Mercury shoots itself in the foot by ignoring local advertising money to explore "the best" of an unsung Oregon community—and our doozy of a choice this year? Ladies and gentlemen, meet ESTACADA, OREGON.

And no, we didn't choose it because it's fun saying "Best'a Estacada." Perhaps of all outlying small towns, Estacada has the most conflicted reputation: as both a pristine gateway to recreation and nature, and the home to "Estacada crank." And while their parks and lakes are truly a treasure, and their crank is topnotch, there is so much more to this gem of the Northwest—and that's why many of your Portland neighbors have fled the city to make a new life there.

Currently there is a real estate boom in Estacada, with suburbs springing up like wildflowers in the hills directly behind the town. Why the sudden flight from Multnomah County? Residents cite our county's oppressive taxes, pricey real estate, and condensed neighborhoods. And while it's true this "Christmas Tree Capital of the World" may have a bit of a meth problem, take a look right now at that creepy van/rolling meth lab parked outside your house—Portland's got it worse.

And who wouldn't want to live near some of the best parks, swimming holes, Frisbee golf, and wicked rapids a kayaker could dare kayak? Then there's the aggressive downtown association, who have developed a bustling tourist trade with numerous antique shops, restaurants, taverns, and murals dotting the town. And of course, who can forget the crown jewel of Estacada, the world-famous "Safari Club" (now called Hong's Lounge) which features the most jaw-dropping display of taxidermied animals this side of the Smithsonian. Besides, when small-town living gets too weird, Estacada is always within spitting distance of Portland's so-called "best."

But enough chamber-of-commerce-style rah-rah... here's what the Mercury REALLY loves about Estacada: that luscious dark-edged tension that exists when an old conservative logging town is suddenly inundated with modern-day urban liberalism. It's definitely an uneasy alliance in Estacada, where every day the asshole Republican meets the artsy-fartsy knee-jerk liberal right in the middle of Main Street; where the morally upright family of four stumbles into the obliterated drunk in the frozen food aisle of Thriftway. And where the beautiful streams, forests, and parks also make a convenient dumping ground for a murdered body.

Estacada is complicated, but only in the way all great towns are complicated; and that's what makes her interesting. Plus, in May of this year Estacada celebrated her 100th birthday—and while that alone is reason enough to grant her the Mercury's "Best of..." status, we'd like to encourage all of our readers to get out of this goddamn town for once. The best of Estacada is waiting, and trust us—it's a whole different world.