Friday, September 9, 2011

Oregon, the end of the trail...for now.

Where I left off: with my friend, Kat at the crumpet shop in Seattle! Yes, well, after delicious crumpets (I tried the Vermont maple butter with walnuts and ricotta and Kat ordered the orange marmalade with blue cheese), Kat left for work, so I explored Ballard - the neighborhood in Seattle where she lives. Its such a cool place! I walked down to the Locks to see the fish and the 100-year-old gates that open and shut to moderate water levels for boats to pass. That first night, Kat and I caught up over Vietnamese food. It was wonderful to see her again after eight years! As she said, "it is amazing when you can meet someone after not seeing them for a very long time, and you don't miss a beat." With Kat, as with Diana, I could talk about and feel understood/listened to regarding spiritual conversations.

The next day, Kat and I went to the Wallace Creek Falls area, about an hour from Seattle for a hike. The waterfall reward at the top looked magical in the misty rain. I'm sad for such a short trip in WA, but my amtrak train to Portland awaited and Kat dropped me off there.

My friend Freddie, who I met 3 years ago in Santa Fe, met me at the Portland Amtrak station and right away took me to see the views for happy hour at the Portland City Grill. Afterwards, we migrated to Huber's for Spanish coffee. Yum. Freddie always knows where to go. The entire time with him, I was treated to a different kind of lifestyle, that I wouldn't necessarily want, but that I can definitely appreciate and enjoy. Its always good to be with company that works hard and plays hard, doesn't get bored, and knows how to share their good fortune. We certainly covered a lot of ground in a couple of days since Freddie was off for the most part from his job at Intel.

One day, we went on a tour of all the falls. The area hosts the biggest concentration of waterfalls in the world, including the famous Multnomah Falls. So the bright and sunny day consisted of cruising the gorgeous winding, landscaped roads, stopping to hike a short ways to a fall, and then driving a little ways to the next one, maybe stopping to sample some shilled white wine. I think we saw 6-7 falls in total, yet the day did not feel rushed at all.

We made it back to Portland in time to watch a free Portland Symphony Orchestra concert on the waterfront, complete with canon fire and fireworks. But this is not all! After the music ended, we went on to the Hawthorne Theater, where Freddie had planned for us to see a Burlesque show. I had somehow never seen one before, and probably wouldn't have chosen to see one. But this is the thing about traveling and knowing so many different people, you get a glimpse into their taste and get to see things you would not normally. The Burlesque show was highly entertaining and full of talent. And then, after this, we met up with a few of Freddie's friends at a nearby bar before calling that the end of my first FULL day in Portland. I thought I have a tendency to pack things in, but Freddie more than matches me. And after my internship this summer, I don't think I have such a tendency to do that packing in on my own any more. Doing a lot is great fun for a sprint, but not a long-distance time-frame.

The next day, Freddie took me to the Oregon coast! It is filled with such amazing rock formations! I felt like I was in New Zealand again, around the Haystack rock area. Even thought the day was sunny, the wind on the coast blew very cold, yet we walked along the sand of Cannon Beach for about 45 minutes. That seaside walk was one of the nicest parts of the day. Then, we went on to the very touristy town of Seaside, and then on to Astoria, where one of my favorite movies was filmed - The Goonies. Here, I also got to climb 164 steps to the top of a tower to view the amazing vista of sea, land and bridges. I loved being near the ocean, soaking up the sun, salt, spray. My fix until I leave New Mexico again.

That night, we went to a couchsurfing meet up at The Kennedy School. This venue is a large, prep-type school buidling that a local brewery has turned into a series of restaurants and bars within the existing classrooms. There's a boiler room bar, a detention room bar, a soaking pool, a room for smoking pipes. I met some really awesome, friendly couchsurfers. Everyone in Portland seems to want to be your friend. Its one of the easiest places to start a conversation. Here, it seems like people have no fear of saying their thoughts aloud for a stranger to engage with if they want.

The next morning I said good bye to Freddie and many thanks! I spent some time at the Portland Saturday Market. And had to make a stop at the famous Voodoo doughnuts, just to see and sample the novelty of their doughnuts, which in all truth, taste just like any other doughnuts. The difference is in the presentation and creativity of such things as fruitloop and oreo cookie covered doughnuts or maple bacon. Still, the best taste-wise doughnut place I have ever been to is in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Then, I took a bus to my friend E's house in the Alberta St. neighborhood. I met E. last fall at a Glitter party in Santa Fe. He's from Portland and has since moved back after attending St. John's College in Santa Fe. It was good to see him happy in his home turf and experience a glimpse into a complete opposite lifestyle from Freddie's. All of E's room mates were at Burning Man, so E invited me along to a Burning Man celebration party at one of his friend's houses. His friend's name was "The Craw".

Before, I embarked on this unknown adventure however, I wandered about the up and coming Alberta St. district while E ran some errands (and yes, his real name is E). This was a cool area with great shops and good places to eat. I happily found a pair of black leather, waterproof and insulated winter boots made in Canada for $20! I've been searching for some for so long and at every Buffalo Exchange I've been to in the Pacific Northwest, so one mission accomplished on Alberta St. I wandered into one of the best icecream places I've ever been too, both presentation-wise (old-fashioned style) and taste (I ordered one scoop of strawberry honey balsamic and one scoop of salted vanilla with strands of home-made caramel!).

Okay, now on to the Burning Man party. I had already decided to take a cab back when I was ready to go, but luckily I ended up being able to catch a ride with someone else leaving early at 1am since my flight was leaving the next morning. We arrived early at the party at 8:30 for some reason. Soon people started coming in in costume. E lent me his shiny silver pants, which fit surprisingly well, and someone else lent me their bunny ears, I wore my magenta shirt, my new black boots and one of E's belts. I would have been much more dressed up had I had my own stuff. Unfortunately about an hour in, a girl kindly told me my pants were ripped! so I changed into an extra pair of shorts and apologetically told E. He relieved my guilt by telling me that the pants had already previously been ripped by him, so it was just the poor patching coming undone! Anyway, at about 9:30, we all watched the burning taking place live on the giant projector in the living room basement. It was cool to see, since I'd heard so much about burning man and have been tempted to go for the experience, but had never actually seen any live footage. It was also interesting to be there watching the streaming with so many people who have been there multiple times and who have multiple friends there this time around.

After the finale, everyone kind of migrated to the back yard where a bunch of talented individuals were slinging and performing with balls of fire. I enjoyed some interesting conversations and then left before the craziness really began. I got a great night sleep and was surprised to see E walk in the door at 7:30am when I was trying to meditate. He gave me a ride to the airport and filled me in on the expected late-night happenings. So I got to the airport with someone who had not slept for 20 hours and that was my exit from Portland, as crazy as it began.

But all went well, other than my 4.5 year old macbook pro finally deciding to die on the plane ride home, and now I'm back in Santa Fe believe it or not with the intention of simplifying things, twice-daily meditation, and trusting that all will be well, listening, going through the doors that open to me and not banging on the ones that close.

I went to the Santa Fe burning man last night, called Zozobra. This event way precedes the Burning Man people think of today, as it has been a Santa Fe tradition for 89 years! I sent out my glooms to leave behind and set my intentions for this  fourth return to Santa Fe.

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