Saturday, April 2, 2011

Heading North

On June 20, 1997, I took a bus to a train -- I believe the name was Starlite, part of Amtrak. One memorable moment was hearing John Cougar Mellencamp (or whatever he went by that day) sing Pink Houses as we crossed the Bay Bridge -- "Ain't that America...You and Me!" I considered it quite symbloic (sarcasm mode flickering, I really did consider it symbolic). Naturally, the bridge is in my scrapbook.

I had made a recent choice to see the highlights of the West Coast. My first stop was Portland, Oregon, and, with delays, it took a little more than a day to get from San Francisco to Portland. I know that, at the time, I was not thrilled with Portland. I stayed in a cheap hotel, not a hostel, because it was the most affordable option. There were no major landmarks in Portland, as there had been in San Francisco, and would be in Seattle. Portland had a reputation of being "nice," but it was hardly spectacular.

Yet I ended up living there for three and a half months in 1999.

There was a charm to Portland. It had kind people, and a feeling of home to it.

One of my first stops was a museum of advertising -- not pictured.

I also enjoyed the Portland Saturday Market:

And the Pitta Mansion:

Not as exciting for me -- but I would do an injustice by failing to mention them -- were the Church of Elvis:

And the Rose Garden:

As for sports, I attended at Portland Rockies game (I am usually not so keen to attend minor league games, but I had sooooo much free time on my hands):

And I got my picture taken outside the Rose Garden basketball arena -- no games in the summer, and no other teams from the four major professional sports:

I absolutely loved seeing, and walking over, Portland's many bridges:

And Hawthorne street struck me as a fun, poor man's Haight/Ashbury:

I also spent quite a bit of time in the Northwest Coffee shop, Coffetime, playing chess, reading, and having a great time -- I met some friendly people there.

So Portland was the least glamorous city I visited. But it was quite pleasant, with many, many solid moments of serenity and peace. Being as undeveloped spiritually as I was at the time, as well as being on the brink of my physical disaster of gaining another 100 pounds from what I weighed, I didn't appreciate Portland in 1997. But when I left, I missed it immensely. I would be back.

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