Well, that was a day of exploring Portland’s somewhat deliberately weird side. Started with a second run (5k downhill and then along the riverside park). Here’s another map, in case you were wondering. I didn’t even try to keep up with CHT and next time I shall revert to wearing headphones so I’ve got something to keep me going.
It has rained more or less every half hour or so, so taking a walking tour might’ve seemed foolish. The two hours we spent with Eric, exploring the weird and hidden bits of Portland just flew by, and finished in enough sunshine to dry us out. We’re pretty good at taking the audio tour or the walking guide in unfamiliar cities and, let’s be honest, it can be hit and miss (we once picked exactly the wrong guide in York and had to suffer an hour of a man struggling with his addictions as he explained history to us and some Japanese folk). Here’s Eric, an actor, explaining how Lincoln never actually came to Portland.
The story of the Oregon Trail and the first western settlers was told with a heavy nod to “not the first people here”. The extraordinary feats of endurance of the people who travelled nine months by foot across the continent to start a new life in the 1800s were diminished by the fact that at every stop, we were in the presence of men and women who had slept in the parks that we were exploring. For the second day, our overpowering sense of Portland was one of a city with its downtrodden very very visible. Mental health problems often contribute to make someone homeless, and a life on the street (and the experiences that involves) can clearly destroy the sanest mind. But somehow Portland’s subculture motto is cruelly apt for a town that we will leave equally loving for its character and panache, and relieved to be away from such a sad reminder of what happens when life doesn’t work out.
We went to the book Mecca that is Powells City of Books and I caught Claire in possibly the happiest moment of her day, combining jeopardy with buying books.
Tomorrow morning, we start the coast road run. My plan is to aim due west from Portland. Google Maps helps here and I’ve picked as our destination Rockaway Beach. I’ve picked it entirely because the Ramones had a song called that. Of course, Wikipedia tells me that they were singing about the one in New Jersey. It doesn’t matter. A bit of bloody whimsy is called for sometimes, and this feels like one of those times. Here’s them. I’d love to think that they chose the font themselves.