Aaron is walking around America. This blog exists to help him connect with people while he is away and for anyone who is interested in following him on the path. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


No lie: Portland is a cool town.

Being dropped off there after my day of hitchhiking, about three hours before my train left the station, I had a chance to cruise around the city and check things out.

It is an interesting place. Lots of free trains and buses and rail cars. Some guy tried to sell me an already opened can of axe body spray for 5 bucks. I ate lunch at a place called Hillbilly Bento. They had the daily specials up on a board, one for each day of the week. When I asked the couple behind the counter what day it was I could feel them give each other the suspicious eyeball. It's a strange feeling walking around without really knowing what day of the week it is. When they told me it was Thursday I checked the board, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo over dirty rice with a side. It was pretty darn good.

The guy behind the counter asked me if I was traveling and I told him all about the trip. They were both interested and he said that he has always had a similar goal of cruising around the country and visiting all of the MLB baseball stadiums. I thought that was a sweet idea and tried to support him in his enthusiasm, but my support is often met with kind of a strange look. More on this dynamic of trying to nudge people into doing what their hearts tell them to in a later blog post.

Eventually I went back to the station, but not before I stopped off at Ground Kontrol for a couple games of pinball, and waited for the train to arrive. These kids and their playful hijinx kept me entertained for a while as I waited.

Riding back to Washington for the weekend for my second weekend of rest and relaxation with Barbie was the perfect thing. We had a great couple of days together and in all honesty, I was not really looking forward to going back to the walking thing. It is becoming hard and harder to leave when I visit her and we have made an agreement to not come back for this weekend to see how this feels. It feels like a necessity if I am going to get anywhere in any amount of time I am going to have to be away for a while. Which I am also not looking forward to. *sigh* I love you ~B~.


When I returned to Portland to resume the journey I immediately went looking for a four and a half star hostel I had found on the internet. It was a lot closer than I thought it was and I checked in to The Northwest Portland International Hostel and Guesthouse. Here is a picture that reflects exactly what it looks like from the outside.

It was a nice place and staying at a Hostel is another thing I can add to the list of things I had never done before I went on this trip. That list is starting to get looooooong.

So after checking in I was able to leave my things in my room and run around town unencumbered by my big ass backpack. I decided to have dinner at this hole in the wall pub where a pleasant surprise was waiting for me when I got inside.

Seriously, Portland is an awesome pinball town. Even if you take Ground Kontrol out of the equation, just about every bar has at least one machine. Very cool.

After Rocking Monster Bash for over an hour I walked around after my dinner of a cheese sandwich and wrench fries. I found a Tarot Salon and was totally going to go in for a professional Tarot Card reading but alas, when I called the number to set up an appointment an automated messages said that the phone # could no longer receive calls. I guess hard times have fallen on the Tarot card readers same as everyone else.

I wonder if they saw it coming?

The next day I set out with the sun shining and the weather report predicting doom and gloom. I looked out my window and could see the bikers and dog walkers of Portland out in full force. Although to be honest they seem to be out at all times day and night regardless of weather conditions.

Some fun facts about Portlanders.

  1. Backpacks are required. Everyone, either on foot or on a bike is sporting a backpack. Sometimes two or three. It takes me back to my freshman days at high school when I was cruising around with my pee-chee and everyone else was trending Jansport wanna-bees. Only now I am grateful because with the huge pack on my back, I fit right in.
2. Everyone but me in this town has a dog. They collect and carry, with apparent pride, little blue bags filled with shit like kids collecting Pokemon Cards. I saw one guy with four bags in one hand, smiling and swinging his arm, looking like he had won a major prize, a major prize he won a major prize!

It did not take long for the weather reports to unleash their wrath. Soon after I left the whole town turned to gray. I hopped onto a rail car while it was still in the free ride zone and got a lift over to the library just as the drops started to fall. I went inside along with all the other homeless people and tried to wait it out.

After about half an hour I grew impatient and I left the library while the rain was still falling and made my way over to the MAX light rail. I climbed aboard the blue line which, if ridden out to its completion goes all the way out to a suburb east of Portland called Gresham.

"Remember Gresham.... Yoooooou... are my number one..... Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuyyyyyy..."

On the light rail, as the rain continued to pour outside, the train was packed with little kids. Kids are a trip. Little boys dodging cooties. Little girls playing those hundred hand slap games that are just as confusing to me now as when I was 7 years old. But as the train left the city limits and passed through suburbia the grade school class got off and enough room opened up for meadn my backpack covered in black garbage bags to have a seat.

I passed the rest of the train ride counting the stops till the end of the line, wondering what I was going to do once I got off. I wasn't really sure where I was and I did not know where I was going. I said a prayer, looking for guidence and a way forward. Slowly the train emptied its passengers until only a couple of people besides myself were left.

I am not sure why but I asked a woman if there were any hotels near the last couple of stops. She said that there was a Howard Johnson near the last stop which sounded like the nicest place I could have imagined. I asked if she could point me in the right direction and she said that it was on her way and she would show me the way. Her generosity kept me from wandering around in the rain aimlessly, searching for a dry place to crash. Yet another example of a cool person on the road who has given me a hand. For that I am very grateful.

And that is where I sit today. Dry and in the HOJO trying to decide if I should set out tomorrow morning or stay one more night. Bad weather forcasted again for the next couple days. I suppose if worse comes to worse I could let the Tarot Cards decide...

Things look pretty good from this reading. Except for that 17 of footballs Dave Krieg Card. Scares the shit out of me to try and imagine what nightmares that could possibly be eluding to...

Stay classy Portland. Peace.



  1. Hoz, the Max train is only free if you stay downtown (The Yellow Line). Once you take either the red or the blue line out of town you're supposed to buy a ticket. You bought a ticket right? Because if yu didn't well... shame on you sir, shame on you.

  2. Yes, I stopped right on the edge of the free zone in Chinatown, got out, bought an all day pass, then waited for the next train to continue the trip out of the city.

    I am that fucking responsible...

    In other news I put a picture of Dave Krieg posing as a tarot card on my blog and no one was amazed.

  3. Hi Aaron, hope that your journey is going well. Very cool. I was just driving down along the Oregon coast and along the Columbia River on the Oregon side on Sunday and Monday. I had looked at your Flickr page and saw that you were around that area as well. Hope the weather gets better for you.

  4. I laughed out loud (you know, the really huge laughs) about whether or not the tarot readers "saw it coming". Stay dry....

  5. Cool, cool, cool. I love Portland too, was there last week. There are so many possibilities. Enjoy your time. First emails are good for some people. It sets them free and opens their hearts. Have a good weekend Aaron.

  6. You, friend, would be great to have along on a boring trip!

  7. Aaron! I just had a brain movement or fart - your choice. On Saturday the 29th, I am on my way to Nampa ID - just west of Boise. I will be traveling down I5 - then east. Do you want a ride any place along there? If so, I will be delighted to pick you up and let you cruise along with me, my husband and my lover, Kokoa Bean the pug. Got a big car lots of room and I would love LOVE L-O-V-E to hear some of your adventure tales up close and personal. It may take some of the weight off your back -- hahahahha I crack myself up sometimes, know it? Stay safe, be well. I am keeping an eye on the B~ Midge (and will be coming back to T-town on June 1 - if you want to be delivered up close and personal- heck we are going to ID to my sister's, you can stay with us)

  8. Mike - Darn, wish I could have caught up with you while you were in town. It would have been cool to see a familiar face. I checked out your flicker too and you took some sweet pictures on your trip. The weather did improve a little bit over the last couple of days so that is a good thing. Hope you had fun on your vacation.

    Storyteller - Yes, I crack myself up with that one.. Thanks for noticing. :)

    Mom - Thanks for your words. Glad you had a good time in Portland.

    Leslie - Heh, thanks for your words. I try to make life fun whenever I can.

    Midge - Thank you for the wonderful offer. I would take you up on your sweet offer but am going to decline on the Idaho thing because certain circumstances have changed that I will be posting about thoroughly in a moment. Thank you for your care and generosity.

    And yes, you crack me up too...

    Thank you for your comments while I was away everyone. Be well...


  9. Not so sure my offers are wonderful - for certain they are not empty. I am not generous, I am only me. I give what I chose, no more, no less. Caring - in my world that means posting, responding, advice giving, odd insights from my head, listening - if me no care - none of the above happens. Snort - That is just the way I am. You BE well, take care, breathe deep, make it so. People Plan, God laughs. And for what reason, we are uncertain - who knows, behind the next tree, over the next hill, up that side road could have been a danger beyond imagination. Failed - naw. Saved - you betcha. Flog not yourself young man. Let me do that for you :) HA - I crack myself up all the time .... yes I do.