Today was our full day in Portland, and I spent the large majority of it on my lonesome. Pat had a visit of his own to attend to, and I assumed that he took the key. So when housekeeping came in and presented me with an unacceptably awkward situation, I hightailed it out of the room with only my shoes, wallet, and cell phone. Three hours I spent walking around Portland, and I saw a couple of things that changed my perception of it.
For one thing, that area I thought was downtown Portland was actually the outskirts of the downtown. As in, the crappy part. The actual downtown is really, super nice, and abundant in food trucks. Even better, I have a list of things that happened to me, without much commentary. So, in order to fill space and use a backlog of reaction .GIFs, here’s my day and how I felt about it.
1. I decided to try my hand at local coffee. Walking into the shop, I realized that there was no menu from which to panic select from.
I promptly left.
2. I wandered my way downtown to a park, and a man sitting on a park bench with a skateboard underneath his feet addressed me. "Ay yo, man, you want some nuggets?"
3. In the middle of this park was a statue of Lincoln. Lincoln was born in Kentucky, raised in Illinois, served in D.C. Oregon was barely a state when the Civil War took place. So... Why Lincoln?
4. I made my way to Portland State University, which was really nice. If you've ever been to a private school in the middle of a large city, you've been to PSU. I was disappointed Jeremy Piven wasn't there, though. Near the beginning of campus, there was a memorial praising the 150 years of Japan-US relations.
There was no comment on the years of, let's say, less than stellar relations from 1941-1945.
5. On campus, there was a gay pride cart that sold hot dogs. That means it was a gay wiener cart.
6. One thing I REALLY don't get about Portland is the overabundance of canes. Not walking sticks, not stylish pimp canes, but regular old people canes. Used by non-old people. I saw a young 30-something man in scrubs, walking down the street with no trouble, using a cane. Several others got out of cars carrying canes. So people in Portland are really nice to old people, and bring them canes, or are really mean, and steal their canes for no reason.
7. Pat and I reunited after realizing neither one of us brought the one key to the room we had.
He argued that because he was sure he was leaving, and I was probably going to stay home, he shouldn't need a key, where as I KNEW there was going to be nobody in the room when I left. I have to admit there's some logic to it.
8. We went to go eat at the aforementioned food trucks, and two cute girls were waiting for their food at the same time I was, discussing their upcoming trip to Seattle.
(No, this part of the story is not important. I just wanted to use that .GIF)
We walked back to our hotel room, and started packing to go home tomorrow starting with a train back to Seattle. We have to wait in the airport for six hours, then fly back to Chicago. I'm sad to be leaving, but I have like, an infinity of paper to write when I get home, so I'm kind of glad we didn't stay an extra day. Also because that extra day would be fifty dollars more for the airplane ticket.
I'm incredibly glad I came on this trip. Basically, let's be frank, I was the guy that came so hotels would be half as expensive. I had no real stake in the objectives of the outing, and I think that's why I had a great time. Not looking for a specific thing means we can see what's there. Obviously, I can't speak for the entirety of these cities, seeing as I've spent less than a week here, and a substantial amount of that time was spent in our hotel rooms, feeling my feet decompress from the pressures of long walks.
Still, I love this area. Seattle much more than Portland, if I can be honest. I was in Seattle for less than 12 hours before I started being giddy about the prospect of coming back. By the time we left, I could feel myself becoming more of a piece of Seattle's working parts. In Portland, I'm not sure if anyone actually feels like they're a part of the town. I could see myself living in Seattle for whatever reason, but Portland is definitely more of a visit city, even if they have a giant bookstore. Seattle is greener, hillier, cleaner, and more modern. Portland's trolley system was great, don't get me wrong, but judging by the methed-out crazy lady we saw cross a busy street and drop several bags in the process with no hurry to pick them up, I'd prefer to stay away from that public transit.
I learned a lot about big cities, and a lot about myself. I learned that it's okay not to always have a plan about a day's events, and to not worry so much if you miss a bus or walk the wrong direction. You'll find your way back, and see some cool stuff on the way as you do.
Something that I learned in Queen Anne; it's the tallest hills that give the best view.
Prepare for some Pokemans, thumbs, because we've got a lot of day ahead of us. Back home to crappy crappy weather.
OH YEAH LAST COUPLE OF THINGS FOR THIS WHOLE DEAL. Seattle smells delightful. Everything smells green and growing, like a garden after a rainstorm. Probably because that's exactly what Seattle is at almost all times. Both cities were great weather all week, that beginning of spring indecision between coat and sweatshirt, which is honestly my favorite time of year. And the funniest thing I saw all week was Seattle's monorail conductor. The ride takes two minutes each way. In between rides, the driver of the monorail has to walk from one end of the train to the other, since it just goes forward and backward. The walk takes them probably around a minute. That's two minutes for every four minutes of driving. He spends a third of his day walking from one end of his train to the other. Not driving, not working with passengers, just walking the same 100 feet from chair to chair, over and over again. That's funny to me.
To you guys: Thank you for reading along with this. Obviously, it wasn't that exciting for you, if any of my entries ever are. I left my good notebooks at home and had nothing to keep memories of the trip in except my notably-unreliable skull, and this gave me a chance. It also allowed me to organize a lot of feelings and exactly why I felt them about Seattle, and helped it become my new favorite city.