Oregon…Undecided?

24 Oct

Here I am, sitting in a hotel room with not much more than a great deal of travelling to show for the past two days.  Firstly, I was astounded and pleased that I arrived in Portland, Oregon after three flight changes with all of my luggage.  Yay!  Point for Oregon!

Second, I was amazed at the efficiency of the Portland Airport.  There was plenty of nice things to behold within it’s Oregonian confines.  Many fine sundry shops.  Point Two for Oregon!

Then…I go to rent a car.  Mind you, I’ve already made reservations (months in advance).  I get in an absurdly long line for midnight PST (yes, that’s 3 AM for us East-Coasters!) and proceed to receive multiple glares from a disturbed hispanic man in front of me.  He must have been a doctor or something for he was very well dressed, and in my opinion, only doctors dress that well on an airplane.  Either that or he was extremely full of himself (which was probably the case anyway from the exasperation he randomly emanated in my direction).  Remember, I’m BEHIND him in line.  I have no idea why he’s glaring at ME.

So, after about thirty minutes, he finally gets called up and I’m like “Hurray!” I’m next in line so this is good news.  I get to the desk and everything’s confirmed…she reminds me I’ve reserved an ECONOMY car.  Remember that.  ECONOMY.  This usually means 4-cylinder, probably a Prius or Hyundai, right?  Well, I’d requested this for a reason.  I planned on a lot of driving so therefore reasoned it would cost less in fuel.  Right?  Right!

Wrong.

Hertz gave me a Pontiac Grand Prix, a 6-cylinder…which is positively the hardest BEAST to drive!  I’d rather drive my father’s diesel Chevy pickup.  It at least would have more headroom.  Minus two points for that.

Score = Oregon Zip.

And so, after that grueling and odd process, I finally and after much waiting arrive in my vehicle, almost run over a motorcyclist because the roads really are THAT different up here from Savannah, and finally, after only 6 miles but much confusion, arrive at my hotel.

It’s locked.

Greeeaaaaat.

Oh you can guess on the points for that one.  Not only is it locked, but once I actually get inside and check in via the LAUNDRY attendant, I find that they’ve SHUT DOWN the elevators for the night.  Not only shut down, but LOCKED UP BEHIND STEEL DOORS.  Other than the steel doors you enter the elevators through.

Oregon’s waaaay behind by at least 5 or 6 points by then.

Okay.  So, I schlump up a flight of stairs with my three bags and an extremely ungainly set of car and hotel keys and enter my abode for the evening.  It’s cute, it’s clean…the bed squeaks like a rusty car shock.  Yay.

Take another one off for Oregon.  Okay, make that at least two.

I go to sleep, get up at 7am (PST) and make for the Starbucks up at the corner.  Yay! Add a point! Alas, they were confused with my order, and gave me WAY too much mocha in my mocha.  BUT I did have the most excellent home-made doughnut.  Yes, I spelled it doughnut, not donut.  It was that good.  No point exchange.

Unfortunately for me, however, as I am walking to that Starbucks, I realize: HEY!  It’s really foggy!

(Insert deadpan expression here)

It’s foggy in Portland, Oregon?  NO!

You know what? No, scratch that.  It’s not foggy.  Foggy is wispy fluffiness that slips over the earth in cool little clouds.

This was SOUP.

I swim through that soup, searching for…Oh wait, no I have to build this one up.

I fly 3,000+ miles to go where my first stop?

WAL*MART

You read it correctly.  And I got lost in Vancouver (right across the river from Portland) looking for a Walmart that was LESS than a mile away from the hotel.  The fog was THAT thick.  In fact, the only reason I found it was because I saw the looming shape of a Hollywood Video sign (which is usually situated in a Walmart parking lot) and went to investigate.

I go in, I get the USB cord and DC converter for my computer, along with some water, beef jerky, almonds, and carrot juice–just in case–of what I don’t really know…maybe the fog monsters attacking the car.  I could live for a few days off of that, right?  Yeah.  Just in case.

Okay.  So I get on the road after that, heading south back into Portland and looking forward (an hour and a half late) to driving to Tillamook, which is on the northern coast.  I’m stoked!  I’m driving and looking…and can’t see the freaking signs.  I can’t see the supposedly beautiful skyline of Portland.  Dammit!

I get lost AGAIN.  I’m driving by my happy little lonesome, thinking: You know, it’s okay, I’ve got time and this will let the fog burn off so I can see Mount St Helen in the distance.

HA!  Fat chance.

I’m lost until I just give up and drive into a Fred Meyer’s parking lot.  Much like a Walmart.  Anyway, I park I go in, I ask what the address is.  Huh?  What’s the address here?  Um, I just work here.  You don’t know the address?  No…Uh…Hey, do you know what the address is here?  No… Ohmigod. Finally a customer turns around and yells it out.  Great! Thanks! I run out to the car, hook up my computer and get surfing!  I find where I am, I get going, I get lost again.

A-freaking-gain.

So.  I take matters into my own tentacles.  I decide, screw Tillamook, it was only a lighthouse and an Octopus Tree, I’ll just find Interstate 5 and head south to Eugene.

Minus a gazillion points for Portland.  Percentage-wise, I think that works out to about 3 more points in the hole for Oregon.

Until I cross the Columbia River…Oh! what beauty!  By this time, the hell-spawn Fog has lifted somewhat and I can see the river.  That’s not what grabs my attention though.  I’m captivated by the BRIDGE!  It’s this amazing industrial celebration of iron or steel or something, and it’s laced with power lines and spanning the Columbia River with such grace and pomp… Add at least 5 points onto that tally, Bob.

I mewl in disappointment because there is no turn off or stopping point to take a picture!

So I decide to celebrate the moment and get lost again.

I finally get to I-5 South to Eugene.  Four and a half hours wasted and I’ve gone 70 miles. Yay!

I think the score for Oregon is around 5 or 6 points in the red.  Anyhoo.  I’m driving along, yay! boring interstate!  and it looks like any ole highway in the Appalachians.  I’m rather disappointed…again.

Okay…I’m driving in a valley, maybe those hills in the distance are distorted or it’s still foggy or something.

Yeah.

Those hills are the Cascade Mountain Range.  They’re huge!  They eclipse anything in the southeast!  A little one makes Brasstown Bald look like an ant mound.  WOW!  AND they’re covered in Firs and Spruce and these OAK trees.

I’m from Savannah, where Oak trees DO NOT change color and the leaves are rather shaped like Olive tree leaves, hard, tiny, green all the time.  Nu-uh.  These suckers are ORANGE and brilliant GOLD.  And the trees are HUGE.  I’ll link up some of the pics I took after I finish here in a bit.  You’ll see what I mean.

So I decide, alright, God wanted me to just drive to Eugene and not take the scenic route along 101 today.  That’s okay, I’ll look for fun stuff along 5.  I come across this adorable little bitty town of about 1300 people (said so on the sign) called Brownsville.

(sigh)

I’m in love!  It’s like Mayberry!  I took oodles of pictures!  You’ll see!  Plus 80 points for Oregon! As I was taking pictures of this lovely little church on a hill, there’s this man on an electric wheelchair that yells across the street in a quite-friendly tone:  Don’t take my picture, I’ll stick my tongue out at you!

I blink from around my camera…Ah, yes, he was travelling right across my line of sight.  I laugh at the unexpected call and rejoin with: Well, that’s incentive!

He laughs, stops, and lets me take his picture with his tongue sticking out at me.  Adorable!  You’ll see.

So I had parked in front of an Organic sundry shop (which if you know me, is instant attraction) and because I parked there (uh huh) I went inside.  (blinks) What.  It was only polite…  And, therefore buy some fruit and honey, just because I wanted to.  I look at the floor (because really, why wouldn’t I?) and ask the lady if it was Pine.  She blinks at me (strange person that I am) and says, no, it’s Fir.

Which is the most beautiful shade of golden whiskey you’ve ever seen.  Pine mellows, but couldn’t dream of this color without stain! Not with a hundred years behind it!  I know! I live in Savannah!

So I get in my car and head to Eugene with notaclue as to where in Eugene I’m supposed to be staying.  I have the reservations, but didn’t get directions from the direction I’m travelling.  Remember what I said before about nixing Tillamook?  Yeah.

I end up in Alton Baker Park.  You will see.  Gorgeous to the Nth degree, plus waterfowl.  Wheee!

I take pictures, get my bearings and arrive at the hotel.  It’s small, but CLEAN.  Omigod is it clean!  I think they BOIL the room after every inhabitant.  And the walls aren’t that cheap wallpaper anaglypta, they’re really textured.  And the floors are terrazzo and carpet.  Go figure!  Ah, but the bed squeaks (see above sound reference).  Ah well.  I sleep like the dead anyway.  Hopefully the person beneath me does too.

To complete my day, I head to a local restaurant which sported excellent Salmon (honestly, I couldn’t resist) and then came back to the room and wrote this.

I am exhausted, to say the least, but I’m determined to keep a journal of this.

I’ll see you tomorrow!

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