Log Entry – Sol Six

day6 mapIt was a bitterly cold evening last night. I awakened early and took a hot shower, avoiding a slug that was crawling on the shower floor. Our camp neighbors told me that they heard fox and coyote roaming around in the vicinity of our campsites during the night. When TK and Cali arose, I asked TK whether they heard anything but apparently Cali was so cold in the night that she started shivering and TK had to wrap her up with a blanket into a Cali burrito and, with the exception of a prolonged 2 am pee, they both slept through the nocturnal visit. We broke camp and, because we had used up the last of the camp stove fuel yesterday, planned to make a quick stop for our morning coffee fix in the closest town in nearby Huntington, OR. We drove into Huntington on historic Hwy 30, the route of the Oregon Trail. As we pulled into the main part of town, we spotted a café on the corner in a historic-looking old building. The café was called Howell’s Café & Streamliner Lounge. Definitely a local’s kind of place. IMAG2000We walked into the center of a dimly lit dining room with an old-style counter and swivel stools from which emanated that distinct, wooden, old timey smell. The room was devoid of patrons and staff and we thought that perhaps it was not open yet. As we were turning around to leave, a young woman appeared from the back. I asked the waitress, who we soon learned was Dottie 2.0, if we could get some coffee to go and she began filling 2 large styrofoam cups with coffee. Recognizing us as wayward travelers, and after first apologizing for being “nosy”, she wanted to know all about what we were up to and where we were headed. When TK mentioned that we were heading to Portland, she rolled her eyes and began to tell us about how weird the people in Portland are. Now anyone who knows anything about Portland understands that this is in fact a true statement, however they also know that Portlanders relish this truth and wear it as a badge of honor. Dottie 2.0 became increasingly chattier and began punctuating her conversation with curse words. She admitted that she was a hick and that once, when she was visiting relatives in Portland, a completely nude foot race had occurred. She described other examples of perceived weirdness but eventually realized that none of her excoriations were having the intended effect. Quite the contrary. By this point, we knew that we were not getting out of that café anytime soon, so we sat down on the swivel tools, asked for refills, and continued to engage her in conversation. Her next topic du jour was to explain that one of her passions in life is pie-making and that she had plans to make more than a half dozen different pies later that day. Apparently, there is an annual bicycle tour that passes through Huntington over the Labor Day weekend and the café always set up a pie table on the sidewalk so the riders can enjoy a slice of homemade pie. Dottie 2.0 said that one of the pies was to be a pecan pie which caught my attention because it is one of my favorites to both make and to eat. I mentioned this to her and she looked surprised and perplexed that a man might know something about making a pie. Perhaps as a test, she asked me whether I preferred light or dark corn syrup in the recipe. Suppressing a scoff, I informed her that I used neither, preferring instead to use maple syrup. Dottie 2.0’s eyes widened and, for the first time since we sat down, she was utterly speechless. In this awkward moment, I imagined short circuiting wires with showers of sparks exploding inside her head as this novel concept swirled around and finally sank in. When she finally regained her ability to talk, with a bit of unease she commented that it sounded interesting and she might give a try. We both agreed that, whatever the ingredients, the texture of a good pecan pie is all important. Life lesson: custardy not soupy. The conversation then drifted towards her personal life and she told us about her boyfriend and the fact that she was a grandmother. I guess it was her turn to blow our minds because it did not seem possible that someone her age, most likely in her mid to late 30s, could be a grandparent. I looked at TK and said, “I am not a Grandpa…yet”. At one point, I got up to use the restroom that required navigating down several hallways, past the kitchen and storage closets. When I came out of the restroom, I made a wrong turn and ended up in another very dimly lit dining room. I realized immediately that this was not the right room and as I swung around to reverse direction, a large hairy man with a long white beard who was seated in the middle of the room sipping coffee, wished me good morning in a low, gravelly smoker’s voice. It scared the bejeezus out of me and I jumped back because I had not seen him and wasn’t prepared. After rejoining my party, it was time to get on the road and so we bade Dottie 2.0 farewell. Later in the day, I wondered if she made that pecan pie with maple syrup. If she did, I hope that she used real Grade A maple syrup, not some horrid artificial “maple” syrup that is really just corn syrup with chemical colorings and flavorings added. If she did the latter then I could just imagine her taking a bite, shaking her head, and smugly saying to herself that she didn’t see what all the fuss was about because it wasn’t any different from her own World Famous pecan pie. Alas….

Earlier in the morning, I had seen an information kiosk in the campground with a poster announcing a special covered wagon encampment that was going on this day at the Oregon Interpretive Center, a museum dedicated to depicting life on the Oregon Trail. It was on the way and sounded interesting enough to warrant at least a quick stop. The Center was located about 5 miles off the interstate, nestled at the top of a steep hill. We parked and wandered over to where there was a group of 4 or 5 covered wagons and people dressed in period costumes. IMAG2004They were setting up for the day and I was chastised by a woman in period dress for taking her photo while she was pushing a modern day metal cart of supplies. I assuaged her by promising to photoshop the cart out of the picture when I got home but she was not amused.

IMAG2002
HA! I didn’t photoshop your modern cart out of the photo!

There was a huge ox hitched to a post that caught our attention and provided a nice photo opportunity. At first, we described the ox as non-plussed, but seeing that the ox appeared to be anxious and stressed, and being advised not to get too close to the horned beast, we decided he was definitely plussed. Unfortunately, some of the other visitors did not receive that admonition and moved in close to the animal for selfies. TK and I had to turn away, not wishing to witness a goring that thankfully did not occur, at least in our presence.IMAG2017

Back on the road, we passed signs for the Pendleton Underground Tunnel. Consultation with Google informed us that this was an underground city built by Chinese emigrants who had come to work on the railroad. They were often persecuted and sometimes killed by cowboys and so they built an underground city where they could hide and engage in all manner of business, both legal and illegal.

As we continued traveling westward, we were soon greeted by beautiful snow-capped mountains and an increasing number of forested hillsides as we headed west.IMG_2154

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Approximately 100 miles east of Portland, we veered off the interstate and went back to following historic highway 30, the route of the Oregon Trail, with its many twists and turns. IMG_2194David was thrilled to put his driving skills to the test. To pass the time, we modified the casserole game to one where the theme was, “I am going to Portland and I am bringing…”. TK won this round with the final list being: bourbon, nuts, sake, elephant, trinkets, salad, dingo, ostrich, hemp, pole, ear o’corn, Nutella, apple, electric razor, runaway, yodeler, rock, keg, gem, mango, oilcan, and net. I am sure my loss in this round can be attributed to being distracted by having to focus my attention on the winding nature of the road….  There is no other explanation.

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Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway

At long last, we arrived in Portland in the early afternoon. TK had previously made an appointment with the rental agency to stop by for a brief orientation, and to sign the lease and pick up the keys, so we headed there immediately. Our friend Will contacted us earlier in the day and was planning to meet us at the apartment at about the same time that we were scheduled to arrive. While TK was inside looking over and signing the 50 page (!) lease, Will showed up. Will is a mutual friend from Charlottesville who moved to the west coast in April ’15 to attend a full immersion computer coding academy in Vancouver, BC. After completion of the course, he moved to Seattle to begin a job hunt. Not being sure of exactly how long TK was going to be preoccupied with business, Will and I cracked open a cold beer from the cooler and started getting caught up while standing on the curb next to the car. Soon afterwards, TK emerged and we located his new abode and unpacked all of his belongings, leaving them in large piles in the middle of his living room. We had our priorities after all.

airbnbhouseAfterwards, we headed over to the Airbnb house that I had rented in the Alberta Arts District, a lively area known for lots of good shopping and restaurants/bars. The owner had a lovely private backyard that was only accessible through a dining area/sunroom, with three small wooden chairs surrounding a wooden table tucked neatly into the wall. The house had three bedrooms. David took the downstairs, while Will, Cali and TK slept upstairs, an area approached through a narrow stairwell with an old victorian-style landing. The owner had a nice garden which we would utilize later, complete with eggplant, chili peppers, roma and grape tomatoes and some very young swiss chard. Included in this backyard was a sunken firepit and hanging wicker chairs on a raised deck topped with a pergola. There was also a raised hot tub and the whole complex was surrounded with a tall, private wooden fence. After unpacking our things, and allowing Cali some time to get comfortable with her new surroundings, we summoned an Uber car to take us to a brewery/restaurant called Breakside to begin the evening. IMAG2022At Breakside, there is a sign posted that proclaims that their only rules are to enjoy where you are, who you’re with, and what’s on tap. Unlike at a certain campground that shall remain nameless, we would have no trouble obeying these rules. Inside, the brewery was crowded and very loud with an energetic vibe. I ordered their IPA (duh, are you sensing a pattern yet?), TK got a dark lager, and Will had a passion fruit sour beer. We put our name on the waitlist for a table for dinner and found a spot to drink our beers at a picnic table outside that we shared with some other friendly folks. IMAG2021The patio was pretty nice even though it bordered the street. They had half kegs suspended above the crowd with planted flowers that were illuminated with soft lights that were useful, as the sun was setting quickly. Before long, our names were called for dinner and we were seated in a back room away from the maddening crowd. TK generously offered to treat Will and I to dinner and we graciously accepted. TK ordered the Ahi Tuna Boco (it sucked!), Will had the lamb burger (which he said was good), and I had a dish, recommended by our server, that was a fried chicken curry. It was pretty good, what there was of it, and plenty of it, such as it was. Regardless, we thoroughly enjoyed the comradery, and Will and I were most appreciative of TK’s generosity. After dinner, Will and TK discussed what was next. On this particular evening, being very pleased with the successful completion of the journey to Portland , I wanted no part of the decision making process. None of us were driving and so I would simply let TK and Will chart the course for the evening and let the chips fall where they may. IMAG2023We took an Uber car to a place called Saraveza, which describes itself as a “Hip spot with a vast selection of bottled & on-tap craft beers, savory pies & hearty Midwestern tavern fare.” The walls inside were filled with all sorts of Midwestern kitsch, none of which made much sense on its own, much less together. Taxidermied animals juxtaposed with other miscellaneous schwag in a quasi-nightmarish carnival of mayhem. I’m pretty sure that there was a clown too but it is here that things began to get fuzzy. Two rounds of shots and a beer later, we clambered into another Uber car and headed back to the house. Before long, a champagne cork flew across the room and, teary eyed and borderline maudlin, toasts were made to our friendship and to new beginnings. Very soon thereafter, completely hammered, we all crashed. Normally, I would rely on TK’s notes to help me reconstruct the minutiae from the previous day but, in this case, they were of little help as he had updated the log before going to bed and his writing was unintelligible. So says the narrator.

Author: The Captain

I am a scientist and entrepreneur who enjoys music, cooking and craft beers.

One thought on “Log Entry – Sol Six”

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