The Portland Shuffle
I returned to Portland to buy a van and sell the Peugeot station wagon. So far, so good; Will and Anna test drove the Pooh today, and Mark, who works at the deli at Nature's, test drove it last night. Both expressed interest, pending a mechanic's report on Monday. I spent most of the day calling phone numbers in the Oregon and Southwest Washington Truck Trader, logging onto autotrader.com, and checking in with used car dealers. The Automobile Club's car buying service is closed for the weekend. On Monday, I can call them if I have not yet found a van I like. If nothing else, I am honing my vision of what I want by gathering information. I love the idea of a conversion van with its own miniature house furnishings, but I don't need them. I need storage for my gear, and I want to keep my gasoline use to a minimum. I want to create an atmosphere of relaxation to support me in the constant creation of the journey, so I need good air-conditioning, good shock absorbers, comfortable seats, and a quiet, well-operating machine, or set of many machines. I would love to make a bed in the back of the car for the person who is not driving to relax, stretch, sleep (Bernie and I will switch off every two hours). We will borrow books on tape from the library.
In the late afternnon I stopped by
Alexander's, "The Gentlemen" Chrysler dealers,
Bernard Hill, the salesman who showed
me the vans,
After ten hours of focussing on cars, I let my body elect to go for a walk around the neighborhood. I love old houses and old trees. Portland recalls a phrase I read in Tom Steven's book Shave Ice: "...a Parthenon of shade." Trees are temples. My mom says even the worst architecture is excusable with enough trees around it. I wonder what she thinks of Hunnertvasser's buildings, designed with trees growing out of the windows--tenant trees, he calls them. Portland's early twentieth century beauties bask in the most luxurious shade.
The neighborhood's businesses mostly reside in older buildings as well, but none as playfully as the Pied Cow Coffee House, on Belmont near 32nd Street. No more will I wonder where the preistesses of the Full Circle Temple would go for a libation in a comfortable and familiar surrounding.
Every molding and cornice of this
elaborate Victorian is painted in
...garnished a shingle bearing a Far Side cow playing a saxophone...of course.
It's hard to decide between the front parlor...
...the garden with its own private parthenon of shade...
...or the main dining room, with its rich bands of pattern on pattern...
...and its aquarium altar on the side.
Portland's celebratory mood gets expressed in murals and other public art. Three of my favorites:
Security Pacific Bank's "gift to the people of Portland" smiles from a wall beside the Burnside Bridge.
A party at the Cricket Cafe, even when no one is there.
Gate to the area below the Burnside
As if all those oxygen- and negative-ion-producing trees weren't enough, two large rivers run through Portland, the Columbia and the Willamette. That big white tent is the Coors company's beer bash on the banks of the Willamette. I am walking at sunset on Burnside Bridge. It's almost nine o'clock.
I thought Portland well-named, what
with so many landings along its waterways.