Where I last left off, we were broken down in Everett, Washington. We got the trailer fixed and drove to Portland that night. The next day I got up and went into Portland on the light rail. The station I got on at was 250+ feet underground, something that was surprising for a light rail station. I got off in downtown and wandered for about forty five minutes before I decided to go to Powell’s Books, the largest indepent book store in the world. I caught the streetcar to get to the book store, and spent about forty minutes there. It was amazing—three floors of books in a building that was the size of the block. I found two or three books that I was seriously considering buying before I decided to leave lest I spend too much money.
I left Powell’s to look for lunch and got back on the streetcar as I remembered passing a bunch of food carts earlier. I got Indian food which I ate in a park before walking around again. After I finished eating I passed a camera store that was going out of business, so I decided to look inside. The stuff they had left was incredibly cheap, but all of it was kind of weird. The filters left were all odd sizes (though inexpensive at $1.30 each), and the other parts they had were too strange for me to figure out a use for. I reluctantly left the store and kept walking. Eventually I got back on the streetcar t and went to the Pearl District. It was fun to go into the various hipster stores and restaurants, but it got boring kind of fast. I met up with my family and we headed back to the RV park we were staying at.
The next day, I went into Portland on the bus. It took a lot longer than I expected because the GPS in my phone wasn’t working right and I had a time finding the bus stop. Plus, when I did find the bus stop, the bus was just pulling out and the driver of the next bus went on break. I got off the bus at the light rail station because I didn’t want to wait another twenty stops for it to get to Pioneer Square, which turned out to be a really good idea. I took the train across the river and ended up getting off at the waterfront because there was a Sunday market there.
The market was interesting; a lot of it was under a bridge in a sort of derelict area. The booths were pretty standard, nothing novel. I did get some East African food, and saw little person (it sounds too condescending to be politically correct) playing violin. These two things completely validated the whole experience. From the market I started walking towards downtown (old town isn’t the safest area), but got side tracked into a coffee shop and really cool used bookstore along the way. I got back to by Pioneer Square then decided to go see if the tram to Oregon Health and Science University was running. I was going to take the streetcar, but it was twenty minutes away so I started walking and followed the tracks. After about fifteen minutes of that (apparently I walk just slightly slower than public transit), I abandoned the effort and went to get lunch instead. I went to a food cart by Portland State University, and bought one of those Jaritos Mexican sodas with lunch. After walking three blocks it dawned on me that, like all Mexican sodas, it did not have a twist off cap. It took me far longer than it should have to figure out that I could use a ‘no parking’ sign instead of manufacturing something out of a dollar bill and a dime.
Finished with lunch, I decided to take up pursuing the streetcar again. It turns out I had taken exactly twenty minutes and was just where I had left off. I walked until the next stop was about three quarters of a mile away before I sat down and waited. I was going to try to video call someone on Skype because I’ve never done that on my phone before, but hardly anyone was online and no one would pick up. I got off the train at the tram station, only to find that it’s closed on Sundays (though the the cars were still running, isn’t that kind of inefficient?), and that I had to wait another ten minutes for the streetcar. I did get a great tour of Portland in the process though.
By this time, it was about 5:00pm, and the city was starting to get seedy kind of fast. Not letting this get in my, I walked around for about half an hour more before I thought it would be good to be on the bus before dark. I had also been asked for money about five times, and normal looking people were fast becoming a minority out. I took the train back across the river, and after looking for ten minutes, I found the bus stop I wanted just in time.
The next morning I went to tour Lewis and Clark College and the University of Portland. Both seemed really nice, though I liked Lewis and Clark slightly more than the University of Portland. I plan to apply to both; it would be really great to be able to go to school in Portland.
After touring the two colleges, we left Portland and drove about one hundred miles east. We drove through The Dalles, home of the first bioterror attack in modern history, committed by the Rajneeshee as a practice run for an attempt to take over the county. It’s an interesting story that seems too theatrical to have really happened. The Rajneeshee cult had already taken over the city of Antelope, Oregon and named it ‘Rajneesh’. They wanted to take over The Dalles for some nefarious purpose, but there was considerable animosity between local residents and the Rajneeshee. In order to sway the local elections in their favor, the Rajneeshee plotted to poison the municipal water system with salmonella that they had bought and cultured themselves. They launched a test run by poisoning salad bars at local restaurants and sickened 700+ people. The CDC didn’t expect that an Eastern religious cult had deliberately poisoned fast food restaurants, so the case wasn’t investigated until a year later when an Oregon Representative mentioned it in a speech. At close to the same time, before attempting to leave the country, the cult leader stated that members of his group had planned the attack. I think it’s a really interesting story.
Anyways, today we’re in Boise, Idaho after driving through Eastern Oregon. At the moment, I really dislike Boise. Wikitravel says something about how it’s like the furthest east city in the Pacific Northwest, but the feeling I have from it is much more Midwestern. The urban sprawl started more than fifty miles away, and the city only has a population of 600,000. Vancouver has almost no sprawl and it’s at 2.2 million. We drove in on a ten lane highway through Walmarts, Home Depots, megachurches and a bunch of other decidedly anti-Pacific Northwest establishments. As far as you can see (which is really far since it’s the prairie) is sprawl in every direction. Also, the Walmart here has half an aisle dedicated to mayonnaise, and they sell two pound cans of Accent. I actually have a photo of the Accent with a five dollar bill for scale, and such oddities, but at the moment I’m unable to upload them.
I have to sign off, it’s 12:30am because I just crossed to Mountain Time, and my laptop’s about to die.