(written on 5th November)
Ahoy there from the leather-bound cockpit of Lady Gina. Today’s voyage is taking a definite southern turn as we leave the wholesome town of Corvalles and our grand host Colin behind and make haste for Crater Lake. There are only two of us in the jeep now, the lowest number since day one in Anchorage, as we finally cast Zie German off in Portland. Goodbyes are horrible at the best of times. This one was the worst of times. It certainly feels like stage one of our trip has been completed with the Age of Zabrina clearly denoted in our minds as that wonderful 6 week period between Alaska and Portland. She and her ridiculous laugh will be sorely missed! Portland was the perfect spot to say goodbye however, as it is quite simply one of the greatest cities we’ve ever been to.
I use city in the loosest term, not that Portland isn’t city-sized, we’re not talking Brechin City shenanigans here, it just didn’t feel much like any city I know. We were aware of the high potential for hipsters, but all these folks seemed to have relocated to Vancouver. Portland has gone full hipster circle. Guys don’t get trendy hair cuts here, they just don’t get haircuts. Buskers don’t play to empty street corners, they play to crowds of dreadlocked vegans all high on life amongst other things. It all sounds very pretentious but it happens to be so relaxed and informal and just nice. G and I went on a morning jog (no lie) in a nearby park and the bums wished us a good day and a happy run. There’s a bookstore in the downtown called Powells that is the size of a city block. I mean to say that it actually is a city block. It seemingly has every item that has ever gone to print in history. It’s like the Great Library of Alexandria with way more denim. On Hallowe’en (in our thrift store costumes of a zombie nurse and Connor Macleod from Highlander) we went to a bar that was stacked full with retro arcades (Asteroids, Pac-Man, Donkey-Kong) and while all the patrons slugged quarters into the machines in their various fancy dresses, a DJ dressed as Thriller Michael Jackson, played Prince remixes. If this wasn’t heavenly enough, the beer on sale was just ridiculously good. 7% IPAs that tasted like someone milked an angel. The city seems to run entirely on coffee and beer – both of which they have raised to an art form. It’s weird too. We went to some underground club courtesy of a great bloke we met called Enon who looked a bit like Spike Lee and danced a lot like Bruce Lee. I found myself upstairs from there in a drag-queen cabaret show whereupon I was invited on stage to perform in a dance competition. My rival immediately stripped off and started daubing his body in neon paint. My booty-shaking robot routine was blown out the water. By the time I’d managed to summon up the courage to remove my shirt the victor was declared and I was left to do up my buttons solemnly in the corner while G and Zabrina creased themselves.
So that was Portland. I would advise you visit in the summer where it may not rain quite as much (we’re talking rival to Glasgow here) and that you perhaps cleanse your liver beforehand. Our faith in cities restored, we’re back on the road heading to greener pastures. The pastures were decidedly less green on the way to Portland – the Colombia river snaked through an undulating yellow expanse that added a definite Mad Max feel to proceedings. However, these quickly evolved into a thick canyon of forest that secluded such a number of towering waterfalls that to chase them all would take TLC levels of commitment. The only thing we’re chasing now is summer, heading south after escaping winter in Canada, autumn in Washington and the monsoon season in Portland. It might be time to see if Gina’s air con is up to scratch…