26 March 2007

Ash to Port with some Land in between

I'm feeling like I shouldn't write too much and just let the pictures speak for themselves, especially considering that they're mostly just landscape and not much of anything else yet. The drive through Oregon was really rainy, but luckily it stopped about 2 hours outside of Portland.

The first 380 miles to Ashland wasn't too bad considering I was still zonked from not getting too much sleep the night before and I was having a nice caffeine buzz from the coffee I had at 5:30am and an "organic" energy drink (from whole foods, of course...where else would they sell organic energy drinks?) around 7:30am (around Sacramento).

Ashland was one hell of a weird town with an odd mix of neo-hippies/stoners/homeless/Southern Oregon college students (couldn't tell the difference between any of them). I just happened to stumble upon this coffee house that was at the end of the main road, which it seemed that a bunch of these people hung out (outside on the front deck, not inside). Luckily they had wireless and I was able to upload the first dozen or two (most interesting) photos from the first leg. Mind you, this were the MOST interesting, so you can imagine how boring most of the drive was, besides the area round Shasta and in the mountains. You don't realize until you've driven the full length of I-5 how much of California is farmland and what sort of shit they grow out here. Just from yesterday, I saw vineyards, grain fields, olive fields, walnut and almond trees, "the worlds capital for grass seed", and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting right now. Anyway, so back to Ashland, I poked around for a bit and saw the elizabethan theatre, from the outside, and there was a pretty garden around the back which I took some pictures of. This was also the first time that I noticed a distinct "oregonian" type of person. I'll comment more on this later.

After getting some directions back to the freeway from some random crazy local woman at the coffee house, I was back on the road with about 285 miles left. I stopped in Grants Pass to get gas, since I read it was cheap there (yes, i'm that much of a control freak), so I stopped at the shell that I had planned on, knowing gas was only 2.89/gallon, only to be accosted by a dirty man with a full beard (setting myself for the Oregon archetype, later on). I got out of my car and asked him what he wanted, since I figured he was homeless or wanted money or something. I soon realized from his shell uniform that he worked there, but was confused as to why he was coming over to my car...then I kind of figured out that it was a full service gas station, but what the fuck...I want to pump my own gas. I don't like random people putting things in my car...that's weird. Anyway, so after I got out of my car and walked around for a minute, in confusion, half not knowing what I should be doing as someone else pumped my gas, I got back in my car, as all the other people around my car were doing. I gave the guy my credit card (which I was also anxious about, for some reason) and he pumped my gas and washed my windows. This being a service and all, I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to tip or not, considering you do that for everything else, so I gave him 3 bucks which effectively increased my gas by like 30 cents a gallon. Bastards! I thought I was getting a deal. So now I know I shouldn't tip, but I still feel weird about the state of oregon imposing it's economic hardships onto me by forcing people to get full service at the gas station.

Back on the road, I'm starting to get really fucking bored now through Eugene and Salem. Luckily it was only a couple hours and, after what felt like the length of a 3 hour final exam, I was in Portland, and before dark. I didn't get to see around too much before getting off at my hotel, since my hotel is in one of the seediest neighborhoods and right off of the freeway (we like to call it "edgy", since that sounds cooler), I checked in and put all my shit in the room. I probably should've taken pictures of the room before my shit was in it instead of after, but whatever, at that point I was too lazy to care about what was going on. I decided to go to the restaurant in the hotel, which is quite nice and has a lot of comfort food and a full bar. Of course, the coffee they were serving had to be Stumptown, considering this is Portland after all and this is one of the hipsterist of the hipster hotels in this hipster city. I take a seat at the bar and the bartendress is a punky indie kid with a greasy black mullet. I get BBQ chicken with "smashed" potatoes and green beans with a bottomless cup of coffee, which was quite good in it's own regard. As I'm eating a notice a really gangly white guy in skinny jeans and a stripped hoodie show up with a BBB woman (big, black and beautiful, as they are sometimes referred to). They take a seat 15 feet to my left, but it was the oddest thing, since people people wearing sondre lerche hoodies kept coming up to him, with what appeared to be a setlist. I couldn't help but think it was sondre having a pre-game cocktail, but there was no way I was going to go over and strike up a convo...I would've been screwed either way, if it was him or wasn't. So I just sit and observe, get my check and ask the bartendress if her friend was in Portland for 2 days, what was the number one thing she would recommend them to do before they left. Of course not being able to decide, or also from being blindsided by the question...she said three things

1) Mary's strip club for mexican dinner and entertainment - Apparently they serve Mexican food from next door before 11pm and you can watch fully nude dancers while eating your authentic mexican dinner. I didn't know about this one, considering I like my mexican food a little closer to the border and, preferably, from a neighborhood where mexicans live like the mission.

2) Voodoo doughnuts - Only open from 10pm (yes PM), to 7am. This seemed worth checking out. They have weird ass doughnuts, some with cereal on top and others in the shape of video game characters and what not.

3) The velveteria - An art gallery with all of it's art made solely from Velvet. This seemed interesting as well however, upon further research, found out that it's closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Bummer.

So I head back to the room and take a shower, change clothes, go get ice and dump it into my cooler thats still in my car to keep my hummus fresh, crack open the 1 large beer that I brought with me from california (it was made out of Mate, which is supposed to be highly caffeinated, although I couldn't help but feel tired after drinking it). Sat outside on the outdoor lounge which had a nice warm firing going, which was great since it was around 45 or so. Finally went down to the venue around 10pm and the 2nd band was half way through. This was possibly the latest show I've been to in recent history, with Sondre Lerche coming on around 11pm. I'm bored so I try to take pictures of the space, but it was too dark and didn't do it justice. I get a local beer, pale ale, but it makes me kind of nauseous, so I drink it slowly. I realized I had to pee really bad so I go to the bathroom and into the first stall. There's definitely a guy taking a dump in the next and only stall, right next to me. I had to carry my beer into the bathroom with me, and I get a little paranoid, hoping that no poo is flying into my beer for my consumption (irrational worry?). So I'm racing the guy next to me to finish peeing before he finishes dumping we finish exactly at the same time. Bastard. So I fling the door open and grab my dripping beer, lunging towards the sink, as to get there first. Ha ha...beat you...of course..since I'm the closer stall to the sink. It's some little mop-headed indie looking kid. I wash my hands and towel off. Some other guys come into the bathroom and say "Hey man, you going on soon?" to the mop-haired kid. The guy responds in a Scandinavian accent "um..yea..in about 25 minutes or so"...I turn around and, jesus christ, it's fucking sondre lerche who was taking a shit next to me in the bathroom...and I beat him to the sink and used the last of the soap...I didn't know if I should apologize, so I walk out of the bathroom and try to get my camera ready to take a picture of him leaving the bathroom, but I couldn't do it stealthily enough...suffice to say, it was one weird/funny experience...so around 11pm he comes on, and sure enough, it's the same guy from the stall next to me...i guess rockstars get nervous too and need to poop to get all the anxiety out...it was pretty much a great show and they really rocked out...better than i thought they would, and he has a pretty awesome voice, not just done over with protools in the studio...they play an encore with a fast rock version of "two way monologue"...couldn't have asked for a better ending...i retired around 12:30am, completely exhausted...oh and the whole oregon person thing...i couldn't help but notice that everyone here looks the same...the men, in particular...are all mountain men looking people who all wear plaid button ups and sport some kind of facial hair, mainly in the form of beards...sondre was also wearing plaid and I couldn't help but think that maybe he was trying to be "oregon" and fit in...anyway...the gene pool here is kind of homogenous and you can tell from all the samey looking people...so this is what gold miners and frontiersmen looked like in the mid-late 1800's...

so now it's morning and i'm way late for starting my day...i'm going to try to at least hit the stumptown store to buy coffee beans, powell's city of books (yes, they call it a "city" of books), and then just bum around the pearl (portlands most gentrified neighborhood)...and then try to see what else i can find to do before i get my voodoo doughnut at 10pm...was thinking about going bouldering in oregon city but i realized it's about 20 miles away and i just want to see around portland, since i only have one day...i'm going to try biking around today, so we'll see how that goes.wish me luck

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