Before leaving, however, we went on one last adventure to the UPS Store to ship Court his phone (which he'd left in my car). We ended up in this really amazing little section of Seattle called Fremont. It reminded me a lot of Northampton, MA. We found the store no problem, and I got a chance to ship James all the little goodies I'd been collecting for him as I traversed the land. We then enjoyed some very delicious Thai food, did some people watching, nursed my stomach ache, and headed back to the apartment. We napped and packed and hit the road just as the sun was setting.
We stopped at a motel in Vancouver, WA to regroup before heading into Portland. I was feeling pretty intense about the whole thing because, after all, this is what I'd been waiting for since leaving Massachusetts. We rested up, and confirmed the details of our sejourn. I found out about this site called couchsurfing.com where you connect with people from all over the world. You can network with and befriend people and then they offer you a free place to stay (and someone to show you around the city). So, we made plans to meet up with some people in Portland and crash on their couch. It was a really great experience, and I recommend this site to anyone and everyone who travels. We'd been inadvertently couchsurfing this whole trip, it just happened to be with friends of friends or moms of friends or just friends.
Anyway, we arrived chez Ben in the early afternoon, and he told us all about where to go, what to see, and which bus routes to take. We set off with the intention of visiting the Chinese Gardens, but realized they closed in about an hour. Instead, we headed straight for Pioneer Square, into the Tourist center to snag maps and routes and coupons. This old Irish guy took a fancy to me, and started handing me maps, and pointing me certain directions. Funny that all the restaurants he recommended were Irish. :) Anyway, he gave me this coupon for a 2 for 1 lunch at Kell's (an Irish Pub, of course) for the next day. Then he told me he would have invited me to his house for dinner if he hadn't thought that Garrett would want to come along. It was wicked funny, and I got free lunch out of the deal.
Afterward we wandered around the city, into Chinatown, ate at a Chinese place, wandered down to the Pearl, and spent hours perusing in Powell's bookstore. It's a whole city block of bookstore. I can see myself heading to Portland just for that.
Anyway, we got home and crashed pretty early. Walking around in the wicked cold, strong wind of a city is tiresome. The next morning we got up early to hit the Gardens. Our first stop, however, was Voodoo doughnuts, this really off-the-wall little doughnut shop/wedding chapel. They have donuts with oreo crumbled on top, voodoo doll shaped ones with a pretzel through the heart and cherry filling, and many other crazy cool doughnuts. Also, they perform wedding ceremonies there. For $25 you can get a noncommittal ceremony. For a couple hundred, you can get the whole shebang. Anyway, doughnuts in hand, we arrive at the gardens just in time for the free tour. It was so peaceful and beautiful and calm (and COLD) there.
The guide mentioned how the water in the ponds just flowed without struggle. When water hits up against a rock, it doesn't freak out and wonder what it will do next. It just flows. The point of these gardens was to have a place where you could stop thinking. This resonated so much with me... the idea of hitting a rock and just flowing. After all, that's kind of how my life works anyway so it's pointless to stress.
After the Gardens, we headed back to Powell's to geek out a little more, then met up with Ben and his lady Holly for lunch at Kell's. It was very yummy. :) Then we wandered around with them for a little while, got some cofee, chilled out, and headed back. We wanted to try to go dancing, but apparently the scene in Portland is such that it supports live music much more than the stuff I enjoy dancing to (electronica/industrial). So much for that. The lack of a great dance scene was a big turn-off, actually. Anyway, we were exhuasted. I was done with the city at that point. Not that it wasn't wicked cool, because it was, but so was everywhere else I had been. I was tired of the cold, for one, and second, I don't know anyone there (well, now I know Ben, but that's different). We decided to leave the next morning. After ruminating over the many options of places I could go, (I was running out of money, but lots of my friends had offered great things) I decided to book it back to the warm, sunny climes in Tucson. I spent the next two days driving a distance I had previously taken 3 weeks to traverse. We hit two horrible snow storms, and a lot of sunny California.
So, today finds me in Tucson, sitting barefoot on the porch where I have spent most of the day sucking in sunshine, being so glad for t-shirt weather. I intend to stick around here for a little while to let the worst of the winter pass me by, and to figure out what in the world I want to do with my life (if anything other than just this very thing, of course). Garrett nailed this whole thing on the head when he said that Portland was just my Emerald City... not my Ithaca. That's exactly it. My Emerald City. And I'm so incredibly greatful for the chance I've had to make it there, and for every experience I've had along the way. The adventure doesn't stop here. Only now, I have a place to rest my weary bones.
Sending you plenty of Arizona sunshine.
Until next time.