Friday, September 04, 2015

Portlands Joys and Woes and heading home.

Portland is nearly 4hours south from Seattle on Amtrak. The train is a much more relaxed mode of travel than backpacking and greyhound busses as I used to travel the USA in the past.
This is the line/queue that forms about an hour before the train departure time, even if you have tickets people stand, while we sit and wait for the queue to go through and get our allocated seats.
The train stations are often classics building in their own right as is this one in Seattle.

Arrival in Portland, the coach cars are air-conditioned, often I seem to be sitting under a vent with cold air blowing down on top of me! I dress up to get on the train and exit into 90+ deg heat at the other end.

Getting to our hotel and switching the TV on we're told Portland is experiencing a very hot summer with no rain for months, a usual summer has 9days over 90 deg, so far this summer it's 24days over 90 and next week while we were there it stayed that way.
 Shopping for a jacket in a store called Columbia specialising in outdoor clothing, I spot this outstanding coffee table and surrounding chairs.
I know from a past visit 20 years ago that Portland is an area well known for Art/Craft furniture makers/designers and this piece is exceptional, made of Metal (the base), Stone (the chunk on top of the table) and a magnificent piece of tiger eyer Maple joined with wooden butterfly shapes. All in the setting of a clothing store!
I also visited this Art/Craft gallery 20 years ago called The Real Mother Goose, which has changed some to include ceramics, clothes, paintings and sculptures, though nothing IMHO to rival the outdoor clothing store coffee table above.
A poor copy of a Maloof rocker for sale at twice the priced and half the quality I used make!
This is "The Whole Food" salad bar, an oasis in a world of junk food.
Superb, fresh foods, make your own salad, complete with eating area. 
It struck me looking at the queues at Whole Foods, the majority of people are regular sized, in comparison to say other fast food outlets like MacDonalds, Dunkin donuts, Taco bells, Hungry Jacks, Arbells etc.
 An area of Portland near the city has the Zoo, a Rose Garden, a Japanese Garden a Childrens Museum an Arboretum and a Historic house called Pittock Mansion (more of that later)
I decided as a budding clown I'd check out the Children's Museum to see how they entertain children. I was struck dumb (nearly exploded) when they refused me admission...because I had no child to accompany into the Museum. I felt like taking this higher, but advice from the better half said "let it go"
From the Hoyt Arboretum we took the easy 20 minute walk down hill to the Japanese Gardens, which turned out to be a 90 minute walk back to Hoyts Arboretum. (signage on the trail was shall we say, was confusing to kiwi's)
Christine pointed this wonderful tree out to me when we were lost
I was somewhere else, still thinking about the Children's Museum fiasco!
Finally we get to the Portland Japanese Gardens, 
certainly worth a visit and authentically Japanese too 
(apart from the locals and accents)

Yes those shiny things on the bottom are coins!
One of the gateways had recently been vandalised 
and replaced using traditional materials, tools and finishes.
A detail in the handrail of one of the Japanese gardens main buildings
Shioji and Fusuma doors all up to Nihonjin standard, though the nails in the decking lacked finesse!
 Exquisite and traditional and very Japanese!
The thumbs up is for my stretching ability up the bus stop pole, however the loop bus schedule (at the bottom of the pole) was an ominous sign. We got on the bus, which had no bells to make the bus stop and when we went through where we wanted to stop, and didn't stop we then decided to get off the bus and go back. Most of the bus also had the same idea, the driver asked why didn't we say where we wanted to get off, (as if this is a normal activity!) She then informed the other loop bus to pick us up at the next stop. Before we could get to the next stop, the bus had left that stop, therefore we had no alternative to wait again for our original non stopping driver, who duly showed up, amazed to see us (again) finally stopping, without us asking! and letting us off the bus where we wanted to go....eventually...Geez!
That next stop was the Portland memorial to the Holocost.
The back wall is engraved with the names of people who died in the camps,
 followed by the names of their surviving relatives in Oregon and South West Washington.
A most sobering place
Standing in front of the huge slabs of carved marble reading and reflecting
....just how lucky we are to be living today!
On Belmont Street, an older part of town with some history of posters as this pole displays 
At Home Depot, you can get...nearly are some planks for smoking/grilling your meat this massive store they did not have a tool I wanted to purchase for my brother, but did have it in another Portland store, 12 minutes away by car, or 20 minutes by bus then a 45 minute walk. I asked if I could get one delivered here to this store from the other store, no was the reply, we can get you one from HQ (Florida) which would take 1 week. I found one in Woodcrafters in a different part of Portland a 10 minute walk from the bus!
You can even buy steel studs for your building Home Depot!
It's amazing sometimes when you walk from 90+ deg heat outside through a shopping mall 
what you will iceskating rink!
Some young talent too
         An old style diner...couldn't see the Fonz anywhere!
First day in Portland I check out the best Jazz club, 3pm in the afternoon I find it and go into check out the evenings entertainment. No one on the door so in I go, there is a band setting up and a guy comes over to talk to me, it was a sax player I knew from the internet and Facebook.
 Michael "Shoehorn"Conolly.
He plays saxophone while he tap dances on a special drum floor of his invention.
So I returned later to take in the show, which was blend of modern Jazz, tap dancing, trad and irish
All good stuff!
Michael on sax, his daughter skat singing
 and a seventeen year old tap dancer
all on stage.
Genuine Irish tap dancing to saxophone in USA...begorrah!
 Later in the week we walk to have a meal in a local aeroplane is advertising a local airshow. It was spelling out "Cool Moon"....Don't now why! Sure was Cool tho!
We wait 20 minutes to get into Saylers Old Country Kitchen Restaurant, friday nights are busy!
Saylers is famous for meat eating, especially the 72oz Steak challenge.
Rules below.
 No vegetarians where consumed at this restaurant!.....I think?
 The week previous a 13 year old boy had completed successfully the 72oz challenge
...which means the $65 steak meal is free! 
Gluttony is rewarded, while half of Africa is starving!
On one of our many bus rides (as an Honoured OAP or over 65 in USA) into town on the #15 bus..... a guy tries to get on the bus dripping blood onto the floor of the bus. He's holding a jandle, the driver talks to him says "you better go to the Hospital" the guy says "Can't afford it...waiting for my next pay check" the driver says "Go to hospital, you won't need your next pay check if you don't.....sorry Man I can't take ya" and drives off without him. Next stop everyone on the bus was let off to wait for the next bus and told to "Catch the next bus because this bus is a Bio Hazard"
 Checking out local bike shops in Portland we come across Brompton Folding bikes
 (English) Cargo bikes and Scooters?

  An impressive range of Brooks saddles (also English), with colours to match the frames.
Go on scoot....get outta here!
 Portland has it's own little gondola ride, an extension of the Streetcar system.
Each end of the Gondola ride is the Portland Hospital OHSU.
Oregon Health and Science University,
So surgeons dressed in gowns are on the Gondola with us tourists, quite a strange mixture!

The Pittock Family Mansion on the hills
 overlooking downtown Portland.
Henry had all his marbles 
and used some in this impressive staircase
Wonder if those bannisters have been slid down?
As in life...not everything goes to plan
I was floored by the pattern in the floor!
Unfortunately the floor in the kitchen was not spotless!
Portland Pedal Power, complete with a bamboo trailer and front mudguard!
A charging station for electric cars...
I should have asked "How much do they charge"
but as usual my humour would have been unappreciated.
A common past time while on holiday across the river into Vancouver, Washington
That's what I call a cheesy smile...Darling!
 Seattle airport had a live band playing. 
They asked me to juggle while they finished their set.
Of course I obliged
These shaker style rocking chairs were put to good use!
A sculpture wall full of saxophones at San Fransico on the way home to caress my own saxophones.

Reflections on this trip are personal and therefore only my view, others who will remain nameless have views of their own.

There are allot of homeless people around in the streets, allot of very heavy overweight people, public transport is very good, prices of most things are significantly higher than in NZ, distances are still vast, many beautifull places still to see and personally, the vastness of shops, shopping malls and endless fast food outlets does nothing for me.
I never want to see the inside of a Starbucks ever again!

We found getting around the cities difficult even with GPS on the cell phone etc. We very often used the trial and error method for getting around, i.e. your on 4th street and want to go to 8th street, so we walk to what we think will be 5th street and find it's actually 3rd street....trail and error.....self corrections like these all day and especially at the end of the day.....are a great test of relationships.

Upon arriving in NZ we thought we had plenty of time to catch the connecting flight to Nelson. However the baggage carousel and declaring some bought flower seeds and a very long, slow moving line to customs saw us having to catch the next flight home from Auckland.

We had a great trip and are equally glad to be home. My shoulder flexibility has increased, and so has my waistline......another month and I would have been buying more trousers.

Well that's America for 2015, now we get back on track for touring in NZ.
I have decided to give veganism a go, looking for an energy boost, for the fountain of youth, for clarity of health mind and body......which I feel is most essential in my journey to be a clown and spread some fun for one and all!

Stay safe and free and B cre eat eat lots of ice-cream's natures best anti ageing food ya know!

Jimu and Christine

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