Last week, I set out on a 6-week, all-over-America, last-hurrah-before-I start-work adventure. After a few days in Chicago visiting my sister-from-another-mother (which included multiple runs in 90 degree heat, a disgusting amount of dessert consumption, a 1.5-hour wait for a restaurant that was totally worth it and some Carl Weathersby blues) I headed west to meet up with a college friend (we’ll call him “Noah”) for a few days in Washington and Oregon.
Now, Noah and I did a lot of normal things. We had several delicious meals. We hiked around the Hoh Rain Forest and Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. We stayed at an oceanside lodge where we lit a fire and played cards like an old married couple (note: we are neither old nor a married couple). That stuff was fantastic, and I’ll post some beautiful pictures to Facebook once I get back to my computer.
But there were a few…let’s say ridiculous…things that we did that really made this trip special. I know Noah would object to the use of the term “we,” because it implies that he was a willing participant. To rectify this, I will make it clear which activities he was happy to be involved in and which ones he begrudgingly agreed to (or in one case, simply abandoned me).
First came our trip to Forks, Washington. Noah’s reaction to Forks was that it was the location of the Kalaloch Lodge and a perfect and scenic place to spend the night on our drive down to Portland. My reaction was to yell “OMG Twilight!”, jerk around wildly in the passenger seat with excitement and text all my friends that I was going to the place where everyone’s favorite vampire tale takes place. In that moment, Noah’s regret at having agreed to come on this trip at all became evident.
I wanted to take an official Twilight tour, but, not surprisingly, they’re absurdly overpriced, so instead I made Noah drive slowly down the single street in Forks and pull over every time I screeched “Stop! There! That’s Bella’s X!” Sometimes he got out and took a picture of me in front of said “landmark.” Sometimes, he sat in the car shaking his head in disgust while I ran into traffic to snap a picture myself. Always, he was a good sport. I tried to get a picture of him with some Twilight glory to use to embarrass him at a later date, but he was too crafty. I did, however, manage to capture him in a reflection as proof to everyone we know that he was, in fact, on a Twilight tour with me.
And this is me with Bella’s truck!
A day later, we moved on to Portland, a city I have wanted to visit since I read Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fugitives and Refugees” 8 years ago. Our first night there was a particular type of Portland-y. We ate dinner from a food truck, browsed and bought books at Powell’s, went to Ground Kontrol (it’s an arcade…with a bar!) and ended up at VooDoo Donuts, where we bought several different kinds of donuts to sample. In keeping with the tone of the shop, all were inappropriately themed but because my parents read this blog I’m going to keep the titles out.
Then came our argument about the validity of different kinds of toppings on donuts. In short, Noah is a topping whore who thinks anything is suitable on top of a donut. I include this so everyone can acknowledge how wrong he is. Our night ended with Noah teaching me to play Chubby Bunny (a game/choking hazard I had never heard of where you see how many marshmallows you can cram into your mouth while still being able to say the words Chubby Bunny – Noah took my phone away so I couldn’t take pictures). I include this so everyone can acknowledge how childish and disgusting we are.
Our next day was Portland-y in a different way. I awoke with a burning desire to tour Portland’s underground (literal and figurative) as outlined by Mr. Palahniuk. I brought the idea of doing an underground-themed walking tour up to Noah, and he said he needed to do more research into it, which is Noah-speak for “I worry this is going to be another Forks, so fork you — I’m going to hang out with my cousin.” So while he caught up with family, I signed up for a 2 hour tour of “the sins of Portland’s past.” We (that’s me, our guide, and 3 older married couples) “walked through the remains of the city’s physical underground and explored the underground subcultures, political underground and immoral underground of the city’s sordid history.” That’s from the organizing company’s website, which also advertised the tour as “now with 20% more vice!” Thank God, because I was worried about being short-changed on the vice.
Despite how it sounds, it was mostly a history lesson (albeit one they probably don’t teach in Portland elementary schools) and really interesting. Notable non-educational moments include my bursting into hysterical laughter at the mention of the vegan strip club of the blog’s title and then 5 minutes later getting proposed to by a homeless man outside the coin-operated “24-hour Church of Elvis” (picture below) in front of the entire tour. I mean seriously, does it get any more Portland than that?
(Seriously, wtf is this?!?!?!?!)
Tomorrow begins phase 2 of the trip – San Francisco – which will be considerably less ridiculous than phase 1 (mostly because after 4 years living there I think I’ve done just about every absurd thing possible), but I can’t say enough about how much fun I’ve had this first week and how happy I am that Noah was along for the ride.
And with this picture, adieu until next time…