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Friday, July 16, 2004

Live The View

Your host is up in Chicago for the weekend.  This wayback file is meant to keep you entertained until the host comes back.  Strangely enough this travelogue touches upon many issues that the host has previously discussed on Confessions.
Wednesday June 20,  2001
Hello All,
I'm sorry I haven't kept you up to date.  Due to technical, social, and timing issues I haven't been online very much.  So let's have some fun.
Monday was nice and lazy.  Portland is "the city of roses" and they have a Rose Garden to prove it.  My mom would go nuts in this place.  Several acres of rose displays.  I truthfully did stop to smell the roses.  Some were quite sweet.  What was cool was that there were so many surprises.  I would go down a trail and see a great scene of downtown Portland.  I took a pic.  Go another 20 feet and take a slight turn and suddenly there was Mt Hood in the distance.  WOW!
Up a rather tall hill was a Japanese Garden.  Very peacefull and tranquail, and quite authentic.  They warned there were no wheelchair ramps and that the whole place is slippery when wet.  I proved that the hard way ;-)  By a pavilon was an excellent view of downtown Portland with Mt Hood in the distance.  got a nice pic of that.
The big thing Monday was spending time with my old friend Val and her new daughter Erin.  It was good to catch up.  Luckily for Val Erin appears to still be in the eating and sleeping phase of life.  That'll change soon enough.
Tuesday was traveling a bit.  I headed out 40 minutes east to see the Bonneville Dam and Locks.  Amazing the amount of hydroelectric power they generate there.  I saw a properler that weighed 18,000lbs.  The fish ladder was cool to wait.  Look through the glass and catch the fish swimming upstream including salmon coming back to spawn.  In the next room are fish-counters.  They manually count the fish they see and keep track.  Not a job I would want.
Portland is the only US city to have an extinct volcano in it's city limits and they turned Mt. Tabor into a cool park.  I drove up as far as I could and then hiked the rest of the way to the top.  Views of Portland on one side and on the other was a bench that had some trees removed in front and there was Mt Hood again.  I'm on one volcano (1,000 feet tall) looking at another volcano (10,000 feet tall) some 40 miles distance.  Gave me a chance to write some post cards.  Nice way to spend a mid afternoon.
I saw Tomb Raider with Rob and Steve.  It's a live action video game, but it wasn't bad.  If you're looking for a next generation Indiana Jones though....not even close.  I've been having some good Thai food in Indy that IS NOT the watered down midwesteren version.  Nice and spicey.  So when the 3 of us went to a Thai place after Tomb Raider I figured their medium would be...well medium-ish.  It wasn't scolding and I did enjoy it, but wow, it was far more potent than I had planned.  I normally deal with the 3 out of 5 or sometimes level 4 hot.  But that was nuclear fusion hot ;-)   Tasted great.
I hope those native to the area truly appreciate all they have.  Mountains to climb and ski on, big rivers to play in and windsurf on (who would have thought a windsurfing mecca would be on the Columbia River east of Portland and 90 miles from the nearest ocean?)  It would be nice to have a few things in Indy like bike lanes, easier access to recycling, and a Dept of Transportation that doesn't use salt on the roads in winter.  There are mid-80's cars here that still look great because of the lack of salt in the winter.  Believe me, not due to lack of snow.
I'm thankful of the last few days.  Nice and slow paced.  When you're seeing friends it can be that way.  Normally I'm on full afterburner for 4-5 days at a time on a vacation.  So now we're going to what I'm used to ;-)
Cruised up to Seattle today.  3.5 hours of driving.  Got caught in some traffic jam for a few miles.  Was highly annoyed.  I'm trying to find my parking garage, but it's too choatic.  So I park in one garage ($5/hour) so that I can scout around for the other garage that'll let me keep my car there overnight for only $10.  Actually they'll have it for 3 days but more on that soon.  I didn't mind the $5 to park because at least I found the things I needed while walking.  Driving around in a city you're not familiar with while looking for some things is never a good thing.
I parked and walked 6 blocks to my hostel and checked in.  For those unfamiliar with the concept you live in something that's akin to a college dorm.  So I'm sleeping in a room with 5 strangers, so what!  We're all strangers to each other and for $20/night you can't beat it.  My stuff is in a locker in the room that you padlock and you just carry your daybag for what you need for the day.  Great way to meet interesting people if you ask me :-)
I took the monorail to Seattle Center (Space Needle)> and found "Ride the Ducks".  With a cool title like that you have to be interested.  When it involves WW2 amphious assualt vehicles (ducks) it's mega-cool.  We're cruising around the waterfront, Safeco Field, the highways and byways and then launch INTO Lake Union.  Got to see some nice boats, houseboats, and floating homes (not the Sleepless in Seattle one though).  Then it's time for the Space Needle and one very nice meal at the SkyCity restaruant.  500' up, Lake Union to my left, Puget Sound to the right, in front is Mt. Rainer.  So priceless.  As the place revoled you see all of Seattle area.  Only takes a 1.5 horsepower motor to rotate the dining area.  Normally I wouldn't partake of a $50 meal, but you have to have the seared tuna with Almond Joy drink and a cheese cake.  I wanted to keep seeing the view so I kept ordering deserts and drinks ;-)  Not tipsy at all occifer ;-)
Their motto is Live The View.  Quite appropriate given what's there and what I've seen these last few days.  I'll be doing a camping trip for the next few days.  No computer obviously.  Go to Mt Rainier tomorrow and Mt St. Helens on Friday.  Get back like 9pm then.  They provide the gear (backpacks, sleeping bags, food, etc) and I just bring a few things like flashlight, clothes.  www.bearfootbackpack.com I believe is the web site.  Quite a few views there I suspect.
It's tempting to just move out here ;-)  No wonder Indiana has a hard time keeping it's people.  It's very flat with no rivers.  Ummm....don't give me ideas.
But I do thing we could learn a few things in the Hoosier State.  I rather like the aggressive urban growth policies of Portland.  Build nothing past this line until we're full on the other side.  No sprawl, but the downside is rising housing prices.  Perhaps there's a medium out there someowhere.
Time to go for now.  It'll be a few days before I can right back.  I don't entend to fall of the mountain.  Have fun all.

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