Monday, September 14, 2015

Day 12-Portland Take 2

The day was here; where we finally leave this campground. It was a bittersweet feeling; beautiful spot for sure, but nice to be moving on to the next place. We packed up the tents; made a scrambled egg, avocado, and cheese bagel sandwich, and were on our way. We stopped at the Shell gas station just to top off the tank and so Anna could get her coffee fix. I pulled up to the pump and as I was about to swipe the card, a man came up to greet me; oh right, they pump your gas here. He asked how much and what grade as I cleaned the front windshield. We carried on a small conversation about traveling before he went over to talk with a woman he knew. I finished the windshield and the pump released as he stood talking to her; I decided to top off the sale to an even number and as I finished closing the tank he came over and thanked me. I really don't get the point of not pumping your own gas, I mean I did more than he did here anyways, I hope he wasn't expecting a tip. He walked over to continue his conversation with the lady as I pulled up front to wait for Anna. We drove into Portland dealing with some highway traffic on our way in, luckily we were early before our free walking tour of the city at 11:00. We found a parking lot for only $5 for the day and parked the car before walking over to the visitors center to meet for the tour. We sat on the brick steps writing and waiting, with no sign of a neon green shirt in our view; we got a little nervous as 10:58 neared the clocks. We checked online and it said we would meet just outside the courthouse; but where was the courthouse? We stood up looking around and noticed a big group, outside the courthouse behind us and a guy in a neon green shirt. We walked across the street to join the group, only noticing after that the group would be crossing that street we just came from. Our tour guide Eric was very casual, outgoing, and knowledgeable. He started as a tour guide in Europe for 2 years out of college and came back to Portland to be with his family. Originally from Texas, he moved to Portland with his family when he was 10 years old. He told us all about the history of the Oregon Trail, the founders of Oregon who bought the plot of land for only a quarter, and how it got it's nickname "Stumptown." Portland, Oregon was named after Portland, Maine which Pettygrove; one of the founders originated. The other option was Boston, Oregon, and you guessed it; for that was where Lovejoy, the other settler was from. They decided to flip a penny and see who won, and I am sure you can all guess which that was. Before leaving the "living room of Portland" we admired the only weather predicting machine of it's kind, just across from us at the Visitor's Center. I had passed by it two days earlier not even noticing it, and now I stood taking photos of the one of a kind science invention. We walked further where we came across a water fountain with four stations; Eric told us of Simon Benson who owned a lumber company and his employees were constantly dehydrated by the lack of water available in a time when beer was all that you drank at the saloon. He invented the Benson Bubbler which allowed four of his men to drink at once on their lunch break instead of spending money at the saloon on beer. Later, the grandchildren of Simon built more bubblers throughout the city, though their design was with only one station to signify the difference between Simon's originals. Again, another thing I would have not noticed throughout the city. We found ourselves in front of a large statue of Abraham Lincoln; the people of Portland during the construction of the statue asked the sculpture if he could change his expression to a smile, since he was in Portland and all. The request was not granted when the sculpture explained the president during the Civil War was not the smiling type. We walked further on the tour and stopped at a view of the Heathman Hotel (in my mind thinking back to Fifty Shades of Grey of course) but apparently others come here for the paranormal activity. It is said that the far corner rooms are all haunted, and that room 803, 703, and so fourth with rooms ending in 3 on that side of the building are haunted. The story behind the rooms are attributed to a suicide which may have took place from the floors above. A psychic who saw the ghost at the end of the bed in room 803 did say that someone had jumped to their death and is now haunting all the rooms which he passed on his way down with a bloody scream and then the sound of a body hitting the ground. It is said when people call 911 at 3:03 in the morning; the services ask if they are staying at the Heathman, or if they had looked to even see a body, when they do there is nothing there and then wonder how someone on the other line could know where they were staying. Seems the emergency personnel are used to these types of calls and so is the hotel staff. When people asked to be compensated to another hotel they simply move them a room over, and know that the screams can only be heard from the vertical route the young boy fell to his death from years ago. It is quite the chilling story, but I think I rather stay in the Fifty Shades of Grey hotel room in which there is a lengthy waiting list for. Our next stop was a statue that is not even known by some of Portland's own; Portlandia. A statue which was built and constructed over 4 years by a designer in Maryland and shipped to Oregon. He has a patent on the artwork that infringes on photographers taking and selling prints of it, small scale statues or souvenirs made out of it, or even the use of the local newspaper printing it. A movie staring starring Madonna called Body of Evidence, was removed from theaters because of the slight pan up to the statue as Madonna walked down the sidewalk. An article titled, "So Sue Us" was published in the paper with a photo of the statue showing how out of hand the situation had gotten and how Portland couldn't even freely appreciate their own spirit God. When the artist is questioned he responds, "To make some money." Its called capitalism, all about revenue for this guy. I stuck to crappy cell phone photos for the soul purpose of not getting sued this road trip. Next stop was a World Trade Center, right here in Portland the biggest importer of Japanese vehicles apparently. Our last stop was a Guinness World Records holder of smallest park named, Mill Ends Park. The story goes, a light post was supposed to be put in place of where now a tiny tree is formed; however somehow they forgot. Dick Fagan, a columnist for the Oregon paper planted flowers in the middle to view out his window while writing. Fagan told the story of the park's origin: He looked out the window and spotted a leprechaun digging in the hole. He ran down and grabbed the leprechaun, which meant that he had earned a wish. Fagan said he wished for a park of his own; but since he had not specified the size of the park in his wish, the leprechaun gave him the hole which now obtained a small plot of land in the middle of the main road. This concluded our 2 hour tour with Eric and we thanked him very much for giving us side ideas of other places to visit in the city like a brewery on the East side, as well as a sight to see in the Redwood Forest. He ended the tour with the history of Voodoo Doughnuts which thank god we went to the other day since there was an out the door line today! He told us how originally they sold doughnuts with Pepto-Bismol filling or crushed Advil or Nyquil inside to cure hangovers or help you sleep. Clearly, the FDA did not approve and shut them down. They came back bigger and stronger and have been in business since, no longer selling the voodoo taboo doughnut combinations. If you ever go to Portland, be sure to check out Eric at I was growing pretty hungry since it was after 2:00 now and I hadn't eaten lunch. We decided to walk around the Saturday Portland Market filled with crafts and food. Anna was in search of a present for her mother, and I was in search of some good street food. I veered off to find a healthy burrito joint and decided to order a chicken black bean burrito with added avocado for $1. It was really good, and much needed. We walked around a little longer until she found the perfect gift, from there we decided to try and find Blue Star Doughnuts, another recommended doughnut shop in the city. Has this turned into the quest for the best doughnut trip? I don't even care for sweets! We walked 15 minutes in the heat and were relieved to get into the air conditioned building. We were first in line and viewed the options; Lemon Poppy Buttermilk sounded good to me! We walked up and a woman and her two kids and two friends decided she was the start of the line; Anna let her go ahead of us. We got our doughnut, and just in time because as soon as we sat in the cramped window barstools, a flood of people lined up to order doughnuts. We must have just hit it at the right time. I looked out the window to find what looked like a sketchy homeless man motioning to bring him the water I was sipping; I turned to Anna to ignore him. Next thing I know, I look out the window and across the street he is motioning inappropriate things; I stood there with my middle finger up in plain sight until he walked away. I am not one to be naive and let people think they can make me uncomfortable. We left the doughnut shop and headed back to our car at the parking lot deciding to drive to see the East side of town where Anna wanted to check out some neighborhoods. We drove around one area for awhile and then went on to a few more, ending at the brewery that Eric had suggested to us; Hopworks. We grabbed a seat at the bar and I sampled two beers one was the Organic Totally Radler which was 50/50 blend of Hopworks’ award-winning Organic HUB Lager and organic lemon soda; which was amazing. The second sample was the Non Stop Hef Hop which was alright but not as delicious as the first one. I ordered a Radler and Anna got some pretzel bites. We decided to go to a laundry mat which was only about 3 minutes away but as we arrived, we found ourselves on the phone with a KOA just an hour and a half away or so. We booked a campsite for the night and they had laundry facilities; no need to go here then we thought. Our second to last stop before heading out of Portland was the Portway Tavern which was run by Hellen; the daughter of the woman we met at Shoshone Falls. She had told us to stop in and maybe she would give us a free beer. We set the GPS and it was only 15 minutes away; we drove and didn't see a tavern in sight, I re-set my GPS and it took us to what looked like a little corner store. There were lotto signs out front and it looked like the smallest of convenience store with no windows to the inside. This was not the on the water tavern I had pictured in my head; more of a small hole in the wall type of biker bar, we walked in. As I sat, I got the feeling that everyone in here knew one another as they took a look at us. The younger of the two women behind the bar come up and I asked if she happen to be Hellen, she declined. Do we even have the right place? I asked if Hellen worked here and she let us know she would be in later; phew. We explained how we had met her parents and they told us to stop in. We both ordered a Deschutes Summer on tap (another one of the recommended breweries to visit.) The woman tending bar asked if we wanted to leave a note for Hellen, so we did so as we sat back sipping our beer and watching Nascar, and college football. We had time to kill before the bird extravaganza at sunset and that was only located 15 minutes away, so I lightly sipped on my beer before finishing it around 6:20 and deciding to head over to Chapman Elementary. To be more exact, every year in late August; one of Portland's most amazing natural events begins: Thousands of Vaux’s Swifts gather in the city as they prepare to migrate to Central America and Venezuela. Migrating swifts often use chimneys as roosts, and they are likely to return to the same place year after year. One population has been returning to Chapman since the 1980s, and it is one of the largest known roosting sites of migrating Vaux's Swifts. We arrived near the school to see the roadsides filled with parked cars, we passed many on our way up the road to a residential lefthand street where there was a sign marked "Road Closed" we decided to squeeze in behind several cars parked before the sign and walk over to the school. As we neared closer, we noticed a flood of people sitting on the hill above the soccer field; guess this was kind of a big deal. I had to find a bathroom quick, that second beer had me wanting to squat behind the nearest dumpster but seeing it was an elementary school; it may be frowned upon. Luckily there was a restroom building in the distance; I unbuckled my pack waistband and made it just in time. Anna had just asked me the other day of my bladder had shrunk after the trail; maybe it had? We walked up on the hill to find a spot right in front of the chimney and watched as families took their kids with sleds and cardboard boxes opened up to slide down a dirt hill. There were young girls going around selling baked goods, and another shouting "cup of lemonade only a dollar"; guess you really did have to make your own economy here in Portland. I listened to the nearby teenagers talk about the cutest boy in school and watched as one bird sat on the chimney; maybe it was the hawk waiting for the Swifts to return. It started out like millions of faint Mosquitos in the sky; as the sun went down the migration of birds grew larger. They are still a tiny bird species to begin with; but at least as the night went on, it got better. They danced in unison in the sky; weaving from one side to the other, around in circles. For about a half hour they did this until they became closer and closer to almost form a funnel and one by one they started to enter the chimney. It was a process to get them all it, it wasn't like one minute they were flying and the next, gone. They still danced fluidly through the sky as a few would fly in and repeat the process until more flew in. We neared down to the last few birds and decided to start walking to beat the traffic, as we neared the car; I opened my door to get in and noticed something on the windshield. Far too familiar, I thought; "shit you've got to be kidding me." I picked up the white ticket and yellow envelope; we had received a parking ticket. I flipped it over, scanned quickly to the bottom; and almost fell to the ground when I saw the amount, $210.00?! For what? They have to be kidding me, the officer wrote that we were 4+ feet into a handicapped ramp; which was impossible since the state construction sign took up about 2 feet of it as well. We were at most 2 feet into the sidewalk ramp crossing and I still couldn't get over the amount. Forty five dollars; fine, sixty five, even $100; but $210?! Enraged, I took photos and didn't know what to do. Anna called her aunt who is a lawyer but she couldn't really help us much with a parking ticket since the officer wasn't present. We climbed in the car and set the GPS for the KOA campground about an hour and a half away. All I could think about was that ticket. Surely they ran our California plates and saw it was a rental, and just gave us the highest level of penalty for revenue; but I'm sorry that is just not necessary. We spent plenty of money in their town and state and I was not happy with the matter. I decided in the morning I would text a few chief, and cop buddies back at home and see what their take on it was. For now; there was nothing I could do about it other than set up my tent, crawl inside, and fall asleep until morning. 

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