I’ve gone to look for America.
I’ve made it to California! I just calculated it and, so far, I’ve made it 6,056 km from home (not counting detours and trips back into BC). That’s 3,763 miles. That Proclaimers guy was a bit of a wuss, only walking 5oo (or 1,000) miles for the woman he loved.
From Seattle, I took BoltBus to Portland (similar to Megabus), avoiding the American Greyhound I’ve heard only sketchy things about. I don’t know- they’re fine in Canada (except when things happen that I don’t want to think about right now or ever).
The moment I got off the bus, I knew Portland was my kind of place. Even if I started my visit with a half hour uphill walk in the heat with my bag (how is it getting heavier and bigger already?), I could tell I’d love it.
I mean, even if they didn’t have any roses at all, Portland would still be awesome. It has a vibe, you know? It’s walkable (important for me since I don’t have a car and am pretty cheap so would rather not pay for busses. Wait, not exactly. It’s that I’m always a bit overwhelmed by new public transit systems and would rather walk than figure them out), it’s pretty (not everywhere, obviously. There is a quite a bit of concrete and sad parts of town), and has a tonne of nice places to look at or eat in.
But why do restaurants close insanely early in such a hip town? Some (which shall remain nameless, because come on), when the clock strikes 9:30, even have the server bring you a take-away box for your half-eaten sushi, tell you to cork the wine bottle and bring it with you as you are told, in no uncertain terms, that they are closing and you must leave.
But coolness (a healthy mix of earnest and pretentious coolness) wins this one.
I spent a few perfect days with my friends in Portland. How lucky that an old university/theatre friend moved there a month before my arrival? That’s just enough time to know what’s hot and what’s not, but not enough time to have tried everything. Most of those things included eating.
Even though I was a boring person and ordered chocolate ice-cream, Salt & Straw lives up to its reputation and is well worth the wait in the inevitable line. The Pear with Blue Cheese was pretty good (but a little too intense for me), the Sweet Summer Corn Buttermilk Sorbet was tasty and strange (seriously sweet corn), and the citra hops and apricot was delicious. I like ice-cream and fancy-schmancy-artsy combinations of flavours.
From Portland I took the Amtrak bus to Eugene. I’m sure Eugene is nice and fun. But not the day I was there- not for me, anyway. I only took 3 pictures: one of the hostel and two in the train station as I was leaving. That gives you an indication of the degree of my affinity for the city.
I did enjoy the Bijou cinema, housed in a church building, where I saw (for three bucks!) Beasts of the Southern Wild.
I don’t know who peed in my cornflakes that day, but I wasn’t in the mood for a place where almost every house has prayer flags and some type of installation art on their porches. I got my first twinges of homesickness, which worried me. I can’t start feeling blue so early on.
Unfortunately, the train, which had been so chilled out in Canada (or am I already being nostalgic about it?), didn’t help. While the seats were relatively comfy, I really really really wish these had had an armrest.
See, it’s a little disconcerting to be seated next to a 60-year-old surfer who drops a few too many inuendos and full-on confessions that they wrecked their sister-in-law’s computer by downloading porn. Needless to say I didn’t sleep too well- I had to watch that that hand of his didn’t cross into my side of the seats.
So I was glad to leave and be greeted by such a friendly face as Ann-Marie’s when I made it, after an anxious 14-hour train ride and calmer 1-hour bus ride, to Santa Rosa, California.
Oh California. I’m going to see the folks I dig, I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig, California I’m coming home (of sorts).