The Great Northwestern Adventure! – Part 4 Of Many

10 January 2012 in Reviews, Trails/Hiking, Traveling


This was our last day in Portland. We awoke and made the most of our limited access to television by watching a little American Pickers before leaving with a hint of Dog the Bounty Hunter. Man the time I could have wasted with cable. Out of sight out of mind. Thank the lord.

After checking out and looting the hotel’s complimentary coffee, tea and juice bar we decided to kill a little time in the Hawthorne district before leaving. We didn’t want to hit Seattle on the I-5 at rush hour. We had made this mistake last year and spent four hours sitting in traffic slowly crawling twenty miles.

We're Praying For YouSo we made our way over to Hawthorne, found some parking on a side street and had a couple of sandwiches in the truck before wandering around. Our first stop was the fanciest Goodwill we have ever set foot in. And we’ve been inside a lot of Goodwills. Everything was well organized with displays and mannequins artful set up. It felt more like a vintage boutique than a Goodwill. Then we wandered down the street passing a collection of head shops, record shops and restaurants. Eventually stopping at a vintage store to have a look around. Inside we found a large room stretching one hundred feet back with miscellaneous items hung and shelved haphazardly about. There seemed to be little organization to it all other than it was all old and held within this single room. But even the latter proved false. After leisurely roaming this first large room we found a doorway and a succession of smaller rooms that seemed to go on and on forever. Each room contained an odd assortment of clothes (both male and female), records, books, shoes, accessories, trinkets, cookware, toys, hats, etc. If it was old they had it somewhere. Imagine taking a vintage clothing shop, an antique store, and a junk yard throw it a blender and set it on puree with the lid off and this would be the end result. It was a little frustrating too, because there were some real gems there. The things we have spent countless hours searching for in Goodwills were randomly scattered throughout this humongous store with no logical order. It was really overwhelming and about half way through we were simply worn out.

This is HeavyWe wandered more of the Hawthorne district and then decided we really had no money to spend and continuing down this road was really quite pointless. So we went back to the car and attempted to find something free to do in order to kill the next couple hours assuring we’d arrive in Seattle after rush hour. We headed to what was supposed to be a free Catholic grotto where there would be statues and gardens to roam through, but found upon arriving we found that only the small, lower portion of the grotto was free. To get to the larger gardens you had to pay four dollars each to ride an elevator up to the top of a plateau. Darn Catholics always trying rob us of our hard earned money.

With nothing else to do in this area and a few hours to kill we went to a brewery and had a beer and some nachos. The hardest thing we’ve had to adjust by returning to city living is the constant need to spend money. Out in the woods we are used to spending money a few times a month. Each month we stock up on groceries once, we go out to eat maybe once or twice, and we fill up on gas two or three times. Other than that we don’t have any need to spend money. The parks are free, the trails free, the coastline and ocean are free. For entertainment we can check out books and movies at the library for free. Being back in the city reminded us just how expensive city living can be. Around every corner is a new opportunity to spend money. There’s enticing restaurants emitting fragrant smells and boasting salivation engaging menus. There’s breweries and bars with long lists of delicious microbrews described in luscious detail. There are shops with clothes you can fool yourself into thinking you need. There are movies and shows. The list of things to do is never ending, but almost every single item has a deceivingly low price that gradually sneaks up on you and accumulates. Before leaving the hotel we checked our bank account and were a little shocked to see how much we had spent in the last few days. And we were trying to be frugal by only eating out once a day and only going out for a few drinks. Most of the time we window shopped, people watched and walked around taking in the free sights, smells and sounds of the city.

After nursing a single beer each as long as we could we departed Portland and headed north. Modern interstates make travel easy and fast, but a little dull. Thankfully we had the aid of an indecisive rain to add challenge to the drive and slow us down. The rain could just not decide at what rate to fall. It would be down pouring one minute, sprinkling the next, than it would stop before down pouring again. I think I must have adjusted my wipers a thousand times. Eventually we passed Olympia, then Tacoma, and finally we were in Seattle. After Tom Tom leading us astray again—I really hate that thing, give me an old fashioned map any day—we eventually we found our way to where Aaron was staying.

It was great to see a familiar face. We’ve been friends with Aaron for over six years now. We initially met him through a roommate who was dating him. A year or so later we were living with him. Aaron had recently gotten back from a tour with his former band and was staying with his friend Bunny whom we would be staying with as well. Bunny was very sweet and hospitable. Having never met us she opened her home to us and provided everything we needed: a warm living room with ample floor space and an extraordinary collection of records. While staying here we heard so much new and wonderful music it was really quite overwhelming. We sat for a while and talked, listened to music and pulled on a few beers before heading out to a bar called Cha Cha. I had been here a few years back when I stopped out for a short visit with Aaron. It sits in the basement of a building and the best way I can describe it is to borrow Aaron’s explanation – “it’s a Mexican punk rock bar.” It’s dark, a little dingy, but decorated floor to ceiling with the decor of a Mexican restaurant, some of which have a punk rock twist. There are thin tissue paper streamers criss crossing across the ceiling and set into the wall is a Virgin Mary shrine, but instead of a mosaic frame of tiles the frame around this idol is composed of beer caps.

Aaron KaraokeHere we spent the evening listening to terrible, good and terribly good karaoke while drinking tall boy Tecates. Aaron threw down on a couple of songs most surprisingly and memorably a 50 Cent song. He had obviously practiced and later told us so. He was spot on! It didn’t even sound like Aaron. I’ve never seen him rap before, but he’s got a pretty good flow. Lindsay eventually got enough of a buzz to throw her name in the hat and before she was called up I caught up to her with a whiskey on the rocks and joined her. We did TLC’s “Waterfalls”. I was surprised by how much of this song I remembered, but the entire time I was eagerly anticipating the last portion of the song which features a rhyme thrown down by Left Eye. I had heard Lindsay recite this from memory on a trail while we were hiking once, but I wanted to hear it along with musical accompaniment, in front of a crowd. Unfortunately for some stupid reason the version they played cut out this part and just repeated the chorus an additional time. Booooooooo!

After returning to Bunny’s apartment she went to bed because she had to work while Aaron, Lindsay and I proceeded to stay up well into the early morning hours catching up and watching Bored To Death.

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10 January 2012 Reviews, Trails/Hiking, Traveling

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