Destination: Portland

I woke up pretty early, and Little Bird and Ox were sleeping upstairs in Walden. Given the previous evening’s festivities, it seemed likely that they’d want to sleep a good while longer. The kind folks whose house we were parked in front of had given us the secret handshake required to open the door, so I went in to use the facilities. In the living room there was a guy sleeping on one couch and a couple sleeping on the other. (It turned out that the male of the couple lived in the house, but that his attic bedroom was so hot that it was more comfortable for the two to sleep together on the couch. Ah. Youth.)

I’d neglected to get the wifi password, and the porch window was open, making the porch not a very good place to work. I figured I could hop on the bike, pop into a coffee shop, and bop out a few blog entries. I asked the Google for “coffee,” found a place that looked promising, and followed Google’s advice for getting there. It even knew about bike paths to get out of the little neighborhood that I was in, and a pedestrian bridge over a highway. I was quite impressed. Until, that is, I arrived at a very nice coffee roaster. Though they roast coffee beans, they do not grind them or add water. I tried again and rode another mile or so. . . to another coffee roaster. Defeated, I headed back to the house.

By the time that I returned to the house, its inhabitants were starting to stir. People were getting up, smoking cigarettes, moving bottles to the recycle bin, and saying things like “beer is the devil.” Ah. Youth.

When Little Bird and Ox finally stirred, they both commented on how comfortable Walden’s top bunk was. Ox had no sleeping pad whatsoever, and Little Bird had only a sheep skin, so they had been sleeping on the ground for over a month now. Ah. Youth.

We thanked our hosts for the fantastic party, helped with clean-up a bit, loaded up, and headed out. We didn’t get very far. When I’d returned from my failed trip to the coffee shop, I’d left the bike leaning against the front of Walden. It seemed like a bad idea at the time, and I was right. Thankfully, I just knocked the bike over and didn’t even begin to crush it. With the bike again mounted on Walden’s nose, we returned to the Oregon Trail.

We were headed to Portland, or, more accurately, a suburb called Clackamas to stay with a friend I’d made when we were both in a beer brewing club in San Francisco. I sent him a text saying “Trying to decide whether to drive my hitchhikers to Portland or dump them in Seattle” and later another that said “Can I and two twenty somethings park in your driveway tonight?” He seemed enthusiastic. He works during the evening, so he wouldn’t home until after midnight. He’d apprised his spouse that I’d be arriving. He followed me on the
Where’s Walden (AKA “stalk me”) page. Throughout the day, he’d send me texts about where I was and potential things to see. It’s strangely comforting to have someone watching my progress on a trip and check in saying “Welcome to Oregon!” and the like.

M, especially in light of the fact that he’d be getting home after midnight, recommended that we stop at Double Mountain Brewery. It seemed like a fine idea. I’d be releasing Ox and Little Bird back into the wild the next day in Portland, and I wanted to have a Last Supper. As we approached the place, I recognized that I’d been there on a previous visit when M invited a bunch of us brew club friends up for an extended pub crawl.

We found a table outside. I ordered beer and a pizza. My compatriots went for a walk and returned just as the pizza arrived. It was pretty darn tasty, but not quite enough. Meanwhile, the couple at the next table was letting the waiter know that the roasted red peppers on their pizza were much too spicy.

“Can I get you something else?” the waiter said politely to the people who had peppers on their pizza.

“You see, it says ‘peppers,’ but we really didn’t expect them to be so spicy. Look, just look! My forehead is beading up with sweat.”

The waiter, apparently uninterested in this man’s soggy pate, said “Can I bring you something else?” He seemed uninterested in re-printing the menus to avoid this tragic event in the future, as the customers seemed to be suggesting. Instead was providing a more immediate solution, another pizza, presumably one without peppers. After considerable conversation, such an arrangement was made. Then there was then the problem of what to do with the remaining half of the pizza. I alerted Little Bird to the situation, and she politely made it known that we would be happy to dispose of the pizza. The waiter was all too happy to hand it over to us.

Now that we had taken food from the mouths of the people at the next table, there was an expectation that we interact with them.

“Wasn’t the pizza incredibly spicy?”

“Well, no, not really,” we countered, trying not to be rude to their sensitive palates. We found it quite tasty.

Since we were now engaged in conversation, we exchanged personal histories with the couple. The woman’s son was about to hitchhike to New York or Washington, DC, our nation’s capital, to protest something or other. I was somewhat impressed, or at least surprised, that this woman was willing to allow her first born to hitchhike across the country. Seeing something of her own son in my companions, she was quite interested in their story. I could see her maternal instincts want to wrap up Little Bird and Ox and take them home.

With dinner done and sunset looming, we loaded back up and resumed our journey.

Meanwhile, M had come home from work for dinner and a problem with his back flared up, making him unable to return for the rest of his shift. Consequently, he was able to greet us when we pulled up at about 8:30. He was quite surprised to see that there was not one, but three of us. He expected two, but Thor wasn’t with me either.

I can never quite tell who is reading how much of these blog posts. On one hand, I am continually surprised that anyone, excepting maybe a few close friends and family, actually reads this stuff. On the other hand, often enough I start to tell a story and hear “yeah, yeah, I already know that.” This is further complicated by the fact that the blog posts lag at least a week behind the actual events. I’d been with Little Bird and Ox for a week. I assumed that the meaning of “the hitchhikers” and “twenty-somethings” was understood in the texts I sent him when I asked if we could come stay. Wrong.

No matter. M and the family welcomed us all. They didn’t kill the fatted calf, as we had already eaten dinner, but M did dip into his extensive beer cellar, with a pretty big ladle.

I ended up falling asleep on the couch downstairs by the bar. M, who was awake for another hour or so decided not to try to rouse me to move me to the guest room upstairs. Meanwhile, Ox and Little Bird had again bunked upstairs in Walden.

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2 Responses to Destination: Portland

  1. trena says:

    Only in the PNW would you do a google search for coffee and end up at two coffee *roasting* facilities. Too funny.


  2. Debbie says:

    Jay, you don’t know me at all. I came by your site from Katie Allison Granju’s page. I very much love reading your story. I too had a fire that destroyed my house luckily we ( my kids and I) were not home at the time, but it did kill my little doggie, Onyx.  I miss the days that I don’t get to see your posts.  I bet you have a bigger following than you think. Happy Labor Day!!


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