I'm going to take a shot at this as well...
1. in terms of travel time, approximately how much time would it take to bike east to west and north to south ? trying to get a handle on commuting time.
Depends on where you live. From the very edges of the city, it'd take you hours probably. Portland is pretty spread out. If you went from Sellwood (the southernmost part of the city limits) to the columbia river (the n. boundary of portland) it'd take you a while... 2 hours? Maybe just under. But if you stick around the close-in areas, it's pretty quick. A lot of people commute downtown via bike.
2. any veg*n restaurants I should NOT eat at? what's your fave bar/pub?
Favorite bar -- uhh... depends on what you're going for I guess. I enjoy Lucky Lab & Lompoc & Produce Row Cafe for their beer gardens. But like Rogue for their beer. And Bridgeport (which is currently closed for renovations). McMenamins has nice properties but their beer kind of sucks. However, they have GREAT movie theaters - 2nd run movies for $3, no one under 21 except for matinees, and they serve pizza, burgers (incl. veg) & beer in the theater!
The only veg restaurant i've been to and didn't like is the Paragon Cafe on Belmont. Their service is terrible and the food wasn't any better than what I could do at home. But I know others like it, so... who knows.
3. do you like being called Portlanders?
4. good vets in the area? I also volunteer at a shelter, would like to continue that in Oregon.
If you live in Sellwood, go to the Moreland Vet Hospital. THE BEST vets in that area! Other areas I don't know. (btw, West Moreland is right next to Sellwood and closer to downtown. And Brooklyn is just north of West Moreland -- all cute areas!)
5. what's this about a volcano?
Part of Portland is on a volcano (Mt Tabor), but that one's extinct. Mt Hood is supposed to erupt one of these days but ... eh... Mt St Helens coughs once in a while but not much happens.
6. hiking,camping and kayaking: any favorites?
Depends on what you like. Obviously, the PCT runs right along the cascades, so you can drive for 1/2 hour and hit a PCT trailhead easily. Otherwise, the Mt HOod national forest is very close, and the Columbia River gorge is littered with trails. I really recommend going to a bookstore and getting a "Hiking in Oregon" book if you're into hiking. It will rate the trails on steepness & difficulty & scenery as well as time the hike takes.
As for camping, backpacking is very popular as is car camping. Again the mt hood national forest is packed with campgrounds. Fishing is a VERY popular hobby, so you do need to be aware of when season starts, because all the campgrounds will be packed. Most don't take reservations so it's 1st come 1st serve.
I really enjoy the ones in the mt hood national forest... the car campgrounds tend to have fewer than 15 sites, are quiet, usually on streams or rivers, and are almost always right on trailheads as well.
7. are umbrellas for wimps? what about galoshes?
You'll see people with umbrellas but... NW rain is different. More often than not, it's akin to standing under a mister in the produce section at the grocery store
So you really dont' need an umbrella. I usually dont' even bother with a hood, but sometimes wish I had one if I get caught in a downpour. But if you do get caught in one, you'll be among the MANY caught without umbrellas or raincoats
Galoshes are entirely unnecessary
8. any tips for appearing like a local? what Not to say? do you automatically think people from NJ are jerks?
People in portland are nice. Smile and people smile back. Say hi, and people will chit chat. Talk about how much you love portland, and you gain a friend for life. hahahaha. Seriously, Portlanders have an extremely strong sense of pride about their city. Insult it, and we deport you across the river to the 'couv.
9. I am a yoga teacher ,Thai massage practitioner and fitness instructor. any lines on employment in that area? gyms, spas, health food stores,etc?
I dont' know, but I do know there is a Naturopath college in SW portland (on Barbur Blvd), so you might look there to see if there are job listings in a commons area, looking for people. Otherwise, maybe go to a co-op (there's one in NW portland, as well as a few in SE) and look at their bulletin boards. The one in NW is called.. umm... I can't remember! The one in SE is just off 21st & Division iirc and is "People's Food Co-Op" I think... there's another on 42nd & Hawthorne called Daily Grind... and I think there are a couple more. You can likely search for them online.
10. where to get the GOOD coffee?
Stumptown. Tully's. Torrefazione. Whole Foods even has great coffee. What kind do you like? Dark roasts? Light? Italian roast? French? Espresso? Tully's makes great espresso drinks. Stumptown is good all around. Torrefazione is all italian roast, so their drip coffees tend to be darker all around (even their light blends are a bit richer) and their espressos are usually pretty nice, though I've only ever had their cappuccinos & lattes... Coffee People is okay, but not my favorite. Their drip coffee usually sucks, but their espresso works if you're in a bind and there's nowhere else to go.
Seattle's Best is pretty good... Java Man sucks and umm... well, there's always Starbucks.
enjoy. i love portland and can't wait to get back. I LEAVE FOR PORTLAND IN A WEEK!!!