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.
- 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.
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.