Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The road to Portland

Today we return to America, so we have to get to the ferry early to deal with customs.

We arrive at the driveway to the ferry and are greeted by a large man at the gate. Mind you, its raining and we're sitting on motorcycles.

Burly guy: "What name is your reservation under?"
Paul: "Swigart"
Burly guy: "You can't all be under Swigart. What's your name?" (as if four people is too many for one reservation)
Paul: "My name is Hacker."
Peter: "My name is Reeves."
Burly guy: "This doesn't make sense." (Wanders to the office, leaving us in the rain)

Burly guy: "What's your name again?"
Paul: "My name is Hacker."
Burly guy: "Oh, I guess that's alright."

So we finally get into the parking lot and are directed to a tent for motorcycles. Then redirected to an office to get our tickets. Half way there I'm called back because my tire is over a painted line, and this constitutes a treat to national security.

By the time I get back to the office, the door is locked.

Annoying Customs Lady: "You can't go in there."
Peter: "My friend is in there."
Annoying Customs Lady: "I assure you that he is not."

(Paul comes out of door that I'm assured he can't be behind)

Peter: "Apparently he is."
Annoying Customs Lady: "Well you can't."
Peter: "So where am I supposed to get my ticket?"
Annoying Customs Lady: "Go up to that (unmarked) window (in the rain) and wait for someone to help you."

If it wasn't for the fact that I would be arrested, I would have a tizzy fit. Instead I patiently wait in the rain for someone to sell me a ticket.

After all this we get to wait around for ninety minutes to get onto the ferry.

At least the ride on the ferry is uneventful. We cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca and land safely in Port Angeles. We are back in America.

Well, a very wet America. We spend the next couple of hours driving in the rain. The rain gear is doing a pretty good job of keeping us dry, and it stops raining just in time for us to stop for lunch.

The Eagle Creek Saloon is a nice little hole in the wall, and I have to say, they make a mighty tasty burger. No, burgers are not as large as the one on the outside. And much to my surprise and delight, my cell phone is actually getting five bars! I know this shouldn't be that exciting, but considering how bad AT&T connectivity has been, this is a miracle!

The other day, someone commented in my blog about whether I was thinking about my imminent return. I hadn't been until this epiphany. We're driving down 101 from Port Angeles and we turn onto I-5 South. This is the moment that it finally struck me. We are driving home.

Paul, Jim and Suzanne stop at a town called Longview for the night, and I head another fifty miles down to Portland to spend the evening with my friend Bill. He recommends a restaurant called the "Ringside Steakhouse", so I try and find a hotel nearby.

I'm having no luck finding a place, but as I pull up to a stoplight, the most interesting thing happens. A gentleman who reminds me a lot of my friend Shreesh, pulls up besides me on a Vespa. He's a dapper man, camel hair sport coat, jaunty italian helmet, grey beard, with a woman about his age sitting on the back. He compliments me on my motorcycle, and after I return the compliment about his Vespa I ask him about hotels in the area.

"You must stay at the Benson! It's a marvelous place!"

I thank him profusely and follow his directions to the hotel. Apparently the whole town is sold out, as I check with every hotel down the street.

Eventually I wander back to the steakhouse, and nearby in a residential area, I find a place called the Park Lane Suites. It's cool, quirky, 300 feet from the restaurant, and has a room. What's not to like? I settle in, call Bill, and soon we're on our way.

We have an hour before our reservation, so Bill takes me to a cool bar towards the top of the U.S. Bank building.

And here he is. My friend. My college. The lovely and talented, Bill Ataras!

As you can tell, the view from up here is pretty amazing!

So we have a couple bourbons, chat a bit, then head to dinner. And I have to say, the Ringside Steakhouse is well worth a visit.

Afterwards we end up at Kells, a very good Irish pub. Here we switch to Irish Whiskey and partake in a couple of nice cigars.

Now being a loving husband and adoring father, Bill doesn't get to go pub crawling very often, so this is a special occasion for both of us. We wander around Portland with our cigars as we go in quest of an all night doughnut shop Bill likes called the Voodoo Doughnut Shop. Apparently their hours used to be from 10:00pm to 10:00am, but from their web site, they seem to now be open 24 hours. That's a good thing, because as they say, "The magic is in the hole".

After a sweet and tasty chocolate cruller, Bill remembers that there is a cool music club around the corner.

Please excuse the dark picture, but I literally took it in the dark. The "musician", and I use the word loosely plays a note on his guitar, then with the help of a mixing board, lets the note go on and on and on. Then he hits a different note. And lets it drift on and on and on. I don't mean to sound like my father, but this is music? I think you have to be majorly stoned to appreciate a series of long tones with not melody or tune. I get up and make my way out of the club, trying desperately not to laugh.

It's been a great visit with Bill, and once again I've renewed my love for Portland.

Tomorrow I head to the coast to reconnect with Paul, Jim and Suzanne.


Thrashes Rakes said...

Bill looks mighty relaxed in that picture! Whiskey can do that to you!

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