Oregon: Farmers, Family, Friends

Friday, November 15, 2019

We had all day to drive from Eugene to the Portland area. We had planned to stay in the same hotel as we had earlier, in Wilsonville. But that one had been undergoing renovations and the parking lot wasn’t as trailer-friendly as we’d hoped, so I found another hotel in Hillsboro, Oregon.

We had an event Saturday (tomorrow) in Beaverton, near Hillsboro and Portland, and an event in Salem on Tuesday. Salem is about an hour south, but we decided to stay in Hillsboro and drive that hour down and back on Tuesday instead of checking out and staying in Salem. Because after Salem, we’d be heading north to Washington. That’s another thing we’re learning on this trip: what is really an “inconvenience.” Is an hour’s drive lesser than, greater than, or equal to the hassle of packing, loading, checking out, checking in, unloading, unpacking? In this case, the drive was less than, because we’d have to backtrack that hour the next day, anyway.

So, we took our time driving from Eugene to Hillsboro. It was only a two hour trip, so we got to town before check-in time. We unhitched, and went looking for lunch. We found a place nearby and settled in. Copper River reminded me a bit of Lazy Dog. I had a green chili chicken enchilada that was delicious.

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After lunch, we decided to find a couple of wineries for some tasting. There were two near each other, and about fifteen minutes away, so we headed first to Blizzard. The gal pouring was very nice, but we thought the wines were just okay. We didn’t buy anything there. Next up was Oak Knoll. We enjoyed these a bit more and bought a couple of bottles, including a pinot rose.

By now we could check-in, so we drove back to Hillsboro and the hotel. We made some phone calls and talked with friends for a bit, then I had a conference call with two of my critique partners. We had lunch leftovers for dinner and then sat in the hotel’s spa for a few minutes before bed.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Today’s event is at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market. We got there plenty early to get situated on the street. We talked to the market “Marshal,” and learned that in the summer, this farmer’s market gets 15,000 visitors on a Saturday! They expected only about 4,000 today.

We were near a couple of food trucks that were starting to make breakfast wraps. Rebecca and Sophie, our Oregon consultants, soon arrived and we got all set up.

This was a really fun event, for lots of reasons.

1) Our long-time friends, Tom and Nancy, have a very good friend who lives in the area.IMG_1251 copy I’d texted Robin and she came by! We’d heard a lot about Robin, had prayed for her and her family, but had never met her until today. It was wonderful to finally meet her in person and she’s just as lovely as I knew she would be. Having Tom and Nancy (not to mention the Lord) in common, enabled us to chat like we’d been friends for years, not meeting for the first time.

2) The people who came through for tours were really interested in the trailer and in what they learned.

3) I learned some things. A recovering addict took a tour with me. She did meth, she said, not heroin. In my spiel, I talk about a myth from the 1960s and 70s, when heroin users would pull liquid heroin into a syringe through cotton, thinking it filtered out impurities in the heroin. It doesn’t. They were just picking up bits of cotton fiber. They’d reuse the cotton and, over time, bacteria builds up and then they’d be injecting themselves with heroin, cotton fiber and bacteria, and getting sick with respiratory infections. This recovering meth addict told me, “Yeah, it’s cotton fever.” So I learned that factoid! Also, several parents of addicts came through and were grateful for the education we’re doing. They talked about signs they’d missed, about how well their kids are doing now (or not). 

4) We got to buy some delicious food, too. David bought some pears and some salmon spread that we had for dinner with crackers and cheese that night. He also bought us some tacos from one of the food trucks for lunch that were fabulous!

At about 2:00 the market officially closed and we packed up and had to get out quickly because there was a funeral scheduled at the church we were parked in front of.

We dropped off the trailer at the hotel and then went shopping. Because there’s no sales tax in Oregon, we had offered to pick up some things for family members. We bought some shot gun shells for a hunter and a birthday present for a grandson.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

We watched our home church service online, then I did my mid-month work. We called and video-chatted with one daughter and grand-daughter, then we went to dinner and a IMG_9751 copymovie. We saw Midway, which was very good, and we talked about what was accurate and what was embellished by Hollywood.

At Stanford’s, we shared one of their specials, salmon with a beurre rouge sauce that was to die for.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Another quiet day. I worked until about 2 PM, then we went to Cooper Mountain winery for a tasting and had a great time. The tasting room manager, Alicia, is from California and had worked in Napa. She and David talked quite a bit about their Napa IMG_9726 copyfavorites. A sweet, but young and rambunctious dog, Webster, was on hand too. We bought some wine for Thanksgiving dinner, then went back to town. We shared a snack in the truck then watched another movie. This time we saw Ford vs Ferrari, another chance to read and see what was accurate and really happened and what was Hollywood taking liberties with in the story.

After the movie, we got to video chat with our other daughter and grandchildren, which is always the highlight of our weeks.

We finished with another soak in the spa and then bed. Tomorrow would be our long day in Salem.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

We left Hillsboro at 7 AM, to get to Salem at 8. Of course, there was traffic, delaying us a bit, but we got there and were set up in front of the Capitol by 9. The truck couldn’t be attached to the trailer in front of the building all day, per the Capitol police, so David unhooked and parked off site, then came back.

This day was definitely focused on getting legislators to come through the trailer and take the tour. I had a woman from the Grange, and a few staffers and one or two legislators. So, overall, I think it was a good day. It was very cold. Definitely a day we’d have enjoyed being able to get in the truck for a few minutes to thaw out, if it had been available.

Walking back from parking, David had passed a sandwich shop, so he backtracked to get us some lunch, which we ate in shifts at the back of the trailer. Eating, drinking, and bathroom use are practicalities that we always have to think about on the job. We have to stay hydrated, so we both always carry a water bottle. But some days bathroom facilities aren’t nearby. But also sometimes the weather is such that no matter how much I drink, it’s fine, I don’t need a bathroom. It’s crazy. And it’s true of cold days, just as much as warm days. I didn’t use the bathroom at all, this day in Salem. In spite of two cups of coffee and two bottles of water. At the Iowa State Fair, when it was super hot and humid, I’d drink 5-6 bottles of water and not need the bathroom until 4:00 in the afternoon. Is that TMI?

Anyway, back to our day.

I have recently reconnected with a high school friend from Castro Valley, California. Heidi now lives in Salem and we had made plans to meet for dinner at 5:00. Because of the cold and because we had no one come by after 3:00, we started packing up at 3:30.

We got permission to leave the trailer in front of the Capitol for a few hours, which was perfect. We’d chosen a restaurant, a local Oregon chain, that we’d started to go to in Eugene, before our Uber driver convinced us to go somewhere else. We still wanted to try the original destination and there was one in Salem. So we’d chosen that place, thinking we could park the trailer there. But since we had permission to leave it, that seemed the better option. And good thing, because the lot at the Ram was not trailer-friendly, at all.

IMG_4352 copyWe got there a good half hour early. I texted Heidi that we were early and she hurried over. I didn’t want her to rush, but I also didn’t want her to think we were bored and waiting for her. We were happy to have a few minutes to decompress and warm up while we waited. I had the blackened chicken mac and cheese and had plenty of leftovers to take home for lunch.

Heidi and I hadn’t seen each other in probably forty years, maybe more. We had a lot to catch up on! She’s still an animal lover and a wonderfully kind person.

After dinner, a panhandler waited outside the restaurant. We don’t often give money, but will usually buy someone a meal. David offered to go back in and buy the man something to eat. He refused, saying he just wanted a beer. To my shock, David gave him $5. David said later, “Yeah, I never do that, but he was upfront about what he wanted, so I figured why not?” As David walked Heidi to her car, the man disappeared into the restaurant. I guess $5 + what he had was enough for his beer. 

We went back to the Capitol, hitched up, and drove the hour back to Hillsboro, our spa, and our bed.

Tomorrow: Off to Washington!

 

Oregon, Ho!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Since we’d had a couple of long days, and we had another 5 hour drive to Wilsonville, near Portland, we decided to take our time checking out from our hotel in Yreka. We had breakfast, watched our church service online, and then packed up.

The trip to Wilsonville was just the way we like it: uneventful. We found our hotel fine. When I make reservations, I always look at the parking lot via a satellite view to be sure there’s room to maneuver the trailer in and out. This particular hotel had a big enough parking lot, but they were undergoing renovations and a lot of the parking lot was taken up with storage containers and construction vehicles. Checking in took quite a while, too.

Once settled, we called up an Uber for a ride to dinner at the Oswego Grill. We shared the Cabernet Tenderloin Tips and they were fabulous!

Monday, November 4, 2019

My cousin, Lisa, had graciously invited us to stay her a few days while we were in town. I knew she and her husband had recently moved and when she invited us, I assumed they had moved and were settled. Well, they had moved all right. A week before we arrived! Lisa was amazing, hosting us while still getting settled and finding her belongings and unpacking. We ended up spending two nights with Lisa and Tom and had a great time.

Monday we relaxed at their beautiful new home, then went to a great winery for some IMG_5375 copytasting. Domaine Divio‘s motto is Oregon wine by essence, Burgundian wine by style. They have some fabulous Pinot Noirs. Then we headed to a local restaurant for dinner. Rosmarino is authentic and delicious Italian fare. I had the All’Amatriciana pasta (tomato sauce enhanced with homemade pancetta, onions & rosemary). It was so good! I can see why it’s one of Lisa and Tom’s favorites.

After dinner, we went across the street to the coffee/gelato/bookstore where I found some books that I had to have. Since we were driving only on this section of the tour, I didn’t have to worry about space or weight in my suitcase.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A great day in Hillsboro! I worked while David and Tom and Lisa did things around the house and Lisa also had some work to take care of and an appointment. David and Tom made a great dinner for us.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

We left Lisa and Tom and Oregon and headed north to Seattle. Well, Tacoma was our actual destination, about three and half hours away. We found a great gas station in Washington, next to a casino. But it has lots of room for us and we stopped there several times over the next two weeks as we moved between events in Oregon and Washington.

Both the hotel in Yreka and this hotel in Tacoma, we’d stayed at before when we drove home after our Alaska cruise. So we were familiar with the parking lots and the layouts. We checked in and this hotel has a restaurant, so we had dinner there.

We had a call time of 9:30 AM in downtown Seattle the next morning. Google Maps said to allow two hours and the front desk clerks agreed. So it was an early evening and then an early morning for us.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Our event today was in downtown Seattle at a park/plaza where there were food trucks gathered.

This was a very different sort of event for us. The park was full of homeless people and addicts. Yet as lunchtime approached and the food trucks opened for business, the place filled with business people. Many of them stopped to ask about the trailer, and even started a tour, but since they were on their lunch hour, they didn’t want to take time for the full tour.

After I explained the premise of the trailer to one woman, she expressed support for our overall aim, but said she didn’t think the park was an appropriate venue, since “we’re trying to make it a family-friendly place.” Well … a quick glance at the addicts standing around told me how well that was working out.

As the lines thinned down after lunch, I was able to get us lunch from one of the food trucks. The Fork and Fin Food Truck featured Alaskan Pollock. We shared a salad with the pollock and it was amazing! The fish was fresh and delicious and it had a spicy crema dressing that was zippy without being too hot.

We were supposed to be there until 4:00 but by 2:00, everyone was packed up and gone and the only people left in the park were the homeless and the addicts. So we also called it a day and loaded up the trailer. We’d had to unhook the truck and park it off site, so we hiked back to the parking lot.

Which brought out something interesting. For some reason, David completely lost his bearings in downtown Seattle. In the morning, we’d unhooked and driven to the lot, then walked the three blocks back to the park. I sometimes can’t tell you which direction is west or north, but I can usually retrace my route. As we left the lot to walk back to the plaza, we had an immediate disagreement about which direction to go, so I had open Google Maps to navigate. And when we returned to the lot to pick up the truck, we made it there just fine, but when we pulled out of the lot to drive to plaza, David thought I was sending him the wrong way. I had to insist he follow my instructions, and sure enough, we went right to the park. 🙂

Before we got to Seattle, we’d talked about what we’d like to do in town, if we had time. The two things we settled on were visiting Pike Place Market and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum/display. As it turned out, we didn’t make it to either, but as I navigated us out of the city, we did drive right by Pike Place Market. So I got to see it, at least.

Since we were two hours from our Tacoma hotel, we knew it was going to be another long day. And it was. And as I said, we’d stayed at the Tacoma hotel before. Our room faced I-5 and there was quite a bit of traffic noise. We were coming back in a week, and when I made the next reservation, I added a note that we wanted a room away from the freeway, and that we wanted a quiet room above all else.

We got to Tacoma, had another dinner at the hotel and went to bed. Tomorrow, back to Oregon.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Our next event was tomorrow, Saturday, in Eugene, Oregon, about a four hour drive. So we took some time this morning to drive to Silverdale, Washington to visit some IMG_3613 copytransplanted Fresno friends. They also opened a trampoline park, like the one we’d visited in North Carolina. It’s such a fun place and we had a great, though brief, time catching up.

We’d left the trailer at the Tacoma hotel, so after our visit, we drove back to Tacoma. I’d had some Amazon purchases sent to the hotel and one of them hadn’t shown up. I’d realized I’d put in the wrong address for the hotel, and unfortunately, the address I put in didn’t exist. But the closest numbers were across the street from us and down a block at a strip mall. So we made a quick stop and I canvassed those stores, popping in and asking if a package addressed to Carrie Padgett had been delivered. I visited a laundromat, a Goodwill store, a cannabis store, and a Hollywood Hustler.

The cannabis store was quite interesting. Inside was a doorman, checking IDs before letting customers enter. I never made it past him, because a) I wasn’t a customer, b) I didn’t have my ID, and c) I didn’t want to buy anything. But because I’m a writer and I believe everything might make an interesting addition to a story, I freely looked around, taking mental snapshots and sniffing. There’s a definite smell to the place. Not strictly like marijuana, but also not unpleasant. Distinctive. The customers were a cross-section. There was a biker in black leather. There was a student with a backpack. While I was waiting for the manager to look in the office for my package, two women came in. Both braless, one was toothless. But one struck a pose and declared, “Officially cancer-free! We’re going to celebrate now!”

The Hollywood Hustler store was also interesting. One section had a sign: 18 and over only. ID required to enter. Ummm … okay. (As noted above, I had no ID on me. David had dropped me off to check the stores and then gone to fill up the truck’s gas tank.) The clerk working the front counter was helping someone exchanging a product that … well, I’m not sure what it was. It was plastic, green, and shaped like a marijuana leaf.

We learned that marijuana is huge in Oregon. And they like it that way! That story will come up in the next post.

None of the stores had my package, so we returned to our hotel, hooked up the trailer and headed to Eugene. My satellite view of the hotel had shown a large vacant lot next to the hotel, with visible tire tracks. So we expected to be able to park there, if the lot itself was too small. We called the hotel on our way, to confirm they had room to accommodate the trailer. When we mentioned the vacant lot, the receptionist said, “There’s a creek in the middle, so no. And there’s construction next door.”

Well. The vacant lot we were referring to was now the construction site of a new hotel. It was a close fit, but we did get the trailer in. Our event the next day was the state cross country championships at a local community college in Eugene. There were several teams staying at our hotel and the parking lot was full of vans.

After checking in, we looked at restaurants, called an Uber and headed out. We’d settled on the Ram, a local chain. But as we talked with the Uber driver, we said we were looking for good barbecue and had considered another place, Bill and Ted’s BBQ. He said it was much better than where we were headed, so we changed our destination. Bill and Ted’s was great! We shared ribs and some sides. David had said he wanted dry ribs, not drowning in sauce. And he got his wish. They were tender and the meat fell off the bone.

After dinner, out next Uber driver took us back to the hotel. We had a good chat with him. His day job is with the local blood bank. Meeting so many people for short times, hearing a portion of their stories … it’s part of why we love this job.

 

 

Homeward Bound

Thursday September 19 – Saturday 21, 2019

Thursday – We had to get from Canada to the US so we could rent a car to drive one-way to California. I found a bus called Bolt that offered service to Bellingham, the first stop inside Washington. It was about a two-hour trip from Vancouver. I booked four tickets for 11:30 Thursday morning. We had breakfast at the hotel, checked out, called a taxi to take us to the terminal.

When I booked the tickets, I requested “Special assistance,” for Mom and Dad, since there was no option for wheelchairs. We got to the terminal in plenty of time. It also serves trains and Greyhound. We found some seats, bought water, waited. Dave found where our bus was going to load, and saw the driver. The driver … hmmm … how to describe the driver?? Driver/standup-comedian? Driver/self-appointed tour guide? Driver/Immigration consultant? Driver/snack taster?

First Dave was watched as the driver wandered through the lineup area and said he’d soon be there to board the passengers, so he and I got in line. Our tickets said we were in Boarding Group “S.” We were scheduled to leave at 11:30, boarding at 11:15. Unlike an airline, although we had a “boarding group,” we didn’t have assigned seats. So we did want to be in line so we could sit together. Mom and Dad came and joined us in line about 11:20. At 11:35, the driver still hadn’t returned and the passengers were looking all around, exchanging glances. Were we in the right area? There were Greyhound buses around, but only one Bolt bus and we were by it. So we had to be in the right place. But where was our driver? Finally, I saw him coming into the terminal from across the street. He’d been buying his lunch.

He came and opened the luggage bays, instructed everyone how he wanted us to stow our luggage, and put his lunch into the bus. We loaded our bags and got back into line. Then the driver announced how we’d be boarding: “In alphabetical order! Beginning with …??” He waited for us to answer. Finally someone said, “Ummm … A?” “Yes! Everyone in Boarding Group A, come on down!”

Dave and I looked at each other. What the heck? We were Group S! And I’d asked for special assistance!! Mom and Dad had been standing for fifteen minutes, at least, by that time. Then he called for … “Group B! Come on down!”

After a few more minutes, he motioned to the rest of us to go ahead, like we were waiting for an invitation. We said, “We’re Group S.” He said, “Oh. Then you were first. S is for Special Assistance. Why didn’t you say something?”

AAARRGH. We smiled. Through bared teeth. “Because you said it was alphabetical order. And S is after A, B, C.”

Mom and Dad were able to sit in the “Special” reserved seats right behind the driver. Dave and I were able to sit together, but in the back of the bus. It was a fairly peaceful drive for the first hour or so. We filled out a US Customs form. I was being super conscientious, listing everything we bought on the cruise, which was mostly shirts and various souvenirs. As we stood in line, it occurred to me: technically we bought those in Alaska, in the US. Not in Canada, so they weren’t foreign purchases after all. Duh. But I’d already filled out the forms. Oh well. And it really was a non-issue. They’re not worried about a couple hundred dollars worth of T-shirts, ball caps, salmon jerky, and a Christmas ornament.

We arrived at the border. The driver pulled into the bus lanes. Because we were in the back, we didn’t hear his instructions clearly, but gathered that we had to all get off, take all our belongings and luggage into the building, go through Customs, then we’d reboard, and continue on into Washington.

As we got off, Mom and Dad were still on the bus, in their seat behind the driver. We told them they had to get off, but they said the driver told them they didn’t have to get off unless they wanted to stretch their legs. We shrugged and said, “Okay.” We went ahead and disembarked, pulled all our bags from the luggage bays, and stood and waited. Apparently the driver did tell the people up front that there was no rush to go inside the Border Protection Building. That they could walk around, stretch their legs, then come and get in line when the line wasn’t so long. Wrong. Because when people disappeared around the corner, agents came out of the building to round them up and get us all in line. The rule is On the Bus or In the Building. There is no Stretch Your Legs. Or Take Your Time.

So we ended up being the very last people in the line. Because of this doofus driver. Obviously it was his first trip across the border. If he’d known what he was doing, because we were Group S with “Special Assistance,” we should have been first in line, instead of last. My folks had to stand in line for an hour. It was so frustrating.

We finally got to Bellingham at about 2:15, only 45 minutes late. We got an Uber to the Bellingham airport, where I’d reserved a car. It didn’t take too long and we were on our way in a Dodge Journey. Except we hadn’t had any lunch. So we found a Subway, grabbed a bite, and headed south.

We had reservations for the night in Tacoma. Which put us in Seattle commute traffic. It took us probably an extra forty-five minutes to an hour to get to Tacoma. But we finally made it. We normally stay in IHG properties. Holiday Inns. Holiday Inn Expresses. Staybridge Suites, etc. In Tacoma, it was a Holiday Inn, with a restaurant so we had a quick dinner and went to our rooms.

Friday – We had breakfast and hit the road. Since we’d be in Oregon at lunchtime, I looked for a McMenamins that wouldn’t be too far off the road at the appropriate time and found one in Eugene. It was ten minutes off I-5, near the University of Oregon. You would have thought it was in China, from all the griping from the driver’s seat. But once we got there, ordered, and ate, everyone was happy. And we got to see the Duck’s stadium being refurbished.

Dave and I had driven to Portland in 2013 and stopped at an amazing rest stop on the Klamath River, just inside the northern border of California, so we wanted to stop there again. Except we weren’t sure if it was in California or Oregon. Okay. I thought it was in Oregon, he was sure it was in California, and he was right. We found it and it was as beautiful as we remembered. We had a nice break, then continued to Yreka, our next stop.

After checking into our Holiday Inn Express, we asked for restaurant recommendations. The clerk gave us a couple of choices. We had seen one of them as we got off the freeway, a Mexican place, so we headed there. It was great! We could see stadium lights across the freeway, so after dinner, Dave decided to go watch the local high school football team play. He enjoyed watching the Yreka High Miners lose to Klamath Falls High.

Saturday – Breakfast in the hotel and we were back on the road. We had a fairly uneventful drive south. We stopped for lunch in Stockton at a Denny’s that must have been uncharacteristically busy, because after we were seated we were ignored, so after ten minutes we left and went to the Jack-in-the-Box next door.

We got to our house in Madera at about 3:00-ish. Moved Mom and Dad’s luggage to my car, and I drove them home. Dave drove the rental car to the Fresno airport and I picked him up there.

Lee and Karie had been able to keep our original reservations so they’d been home since Sunday, almost a week. They’d been busy helping friends with a move, painting, scrapping popcorn ceilings, preparing to host a birthday party, but they’d dropped off some welcome home snacks for us.

So once we were back from returning the rental car, we started a load of laundry, I did a quick shuffle through the mail, and we pretty much collapsed. Which means, we took the Harjo snacks to the back patio along with the cribbage board and a deck of cards. And life was good.