Archive for August 2011
Ryan and I were tired of watching the Whitecaps lose in Vancouver; so we came to Portland and saw them lose here. It was much more fun.
PGE Park is an intimate stadium for 18,000 people and the 500 travelling Vancouver fans did their best to lift a team in dire need of lifting. I’m just not sure they heard us. Of all the chants mustered by the travelling fans, “We’ve got health care” certainly drew the biggest reaction from home supporters. By then Vancouver were down 2-0 and Portland had had a third goal disallowed just before half time.
We contented ourselves with throwing streamers and batting balloons, and what little choreography involved in singing and shouting all but disappeared midway through the second half. With the final seconds ticking away, we began singing “All we are saying, is give us a goal,” to the tune of “Give peace a chance”.
Someone heard us.
In the 89th minute, Camilo Sanvezzo finally lost his marker in the penalty area, turned and scored the consolation goal Section 222 had been waiting for. The Portland fans were patronizingly gracious in victory, wishing us well between chants of U.S.A.
The Timbers’ level of support is impressive. It’s as if every fan is given a flag to wave, and not just a cheesy cloth you’d attach to a car window: we’re talking a 6 by 3 flag on a flagpole for waving with 10,000 other flag-waving fans. If it wasn’t for the fact the Timbers’ colours are brown, the flag-waving would look fantastic.
White and blue are nicer colours though. And we do have health care.
I can sense a little burnout in the Judd family.
For me it’s a mix of eating out, paying for it and being on the road every other day. For the kids, it’s the threat of having to mount a bike or the prospect of their parents getting them lost on two wheels or four. Leah just misses our cats, Murphy, Holly and Sylvester – the latter who thinks he’s the heavyweight champion of the world and may need the vet when we return.
We have one last day and night in Portland. Ryan and I will see the Whitecaps versus Portland Timbers tomorrow night. With the temperature forecast to be 32 Celsius (90F) tomorrow, my nylon, long-sleeve Whitecaps jersey should feel just great now I’ve gained 10 pounds. I just spent 30 minutes on a hotel treadmill (we’re done with camping). My chest was wobbling just walking down the corridor to the fitness room.
We’re at the DoubleTree Hotel in northeast Portland. The hotel is hosting a Beer Bloggers’ Convention. I’m wearing my Beer T-shirt (there’s a picture of a bear with antlers on the front) and I’m sitting in the bar, but so far no one from the convention has asked me to join.
They may be shunning me for using the fitness centre.
I get a little excited in new places. (I don’t get out much.)
The moment I saw Cannon Beach I literally ran down Hemlock Street (the main drag), inquiring about places to stay for the night. For those of you familiar with Whistler, BC, it’s a bit like showing up Christmas week and asking if there are any cheap places to stay – ski in/ski out, preferably one night.
So we ended up camping half an hour away in Fort Stevens at the mouth of the Columbia River for $40 a night. The KOA campground here has thought about everything a camper might want and provided it, right down to a free endless pancake breakfast (cue angels singing), a giant, bouncy inflatable pillow (not castle), indoor swimming pool, dog run (kind of a fenced off assault course – Wipeout for canines), mini golf, Internet cafe (hence this blog) and laundromat/games room. (Play ping pong during your rinse cycle.)
We’re in a tent, but there’s a range of cabins available and some of the RVs pulling in are far bigger than their names suggest: Scamper, Prowler and Arctic Fox hardly conjure up 15-wheeled juggernauts but that’s what most of them are. The 20-wheeled Bitch Slap at least lives up to its name.
Better than the campsite though, is the beach – a bike ride away and every bit as epic as Cannon Beach, but without Haystack Rock. Unlike most of the accommodation options around here during the height of summer, the beach is empty – too vast to be conquered by tourists. It also doesn’t take kindly to ships, wrecking 2,000 of them since 1792. This isn’t the first place to describe itself as the Graveyard of the Pacific, but Fort Stevens’ credentials are impressive. The Columbia River has been forming and reforming pesky sandbars for centuries, creating endless hazards for boats that stray too close to the shoreline; boats like the century-old Peter Iredale, whose remains continue to rust on the shoreline here.
We’re heading back to Portland tonight. The newlyweds camping next to us have awoken me several times. One of them snores louder than the hemmy engine on a 20-wheeled Bitch Slap. I give the marriage 18 months.
PS: As far as I know, there is no RV called a Bitch Slap. I made it up.
You’re in an expensive hotel and you throw yourself on top of a snow-white duvet. Cannon Beach is a bit like that. We’d been driving for ages, parked and walked straight to Cannon Beach. On seeing the white sand, Haystack Rock and the Pacific Ocean, we all did the same thing: flopped on the sand and made sand angels. Then we applied sunscreen, rolled around some more, then watched Ryan and Emma bury each other.
Now I’m sitting by a camp fire in Warrenton, near Astoria, typing almost blind and marvelling at how good it feels to be covered in sand, smoke and stale sunscreen. Of course, my bedfellows may disagree, but they’re in the tent and almost asleep.
I’d write more, but wifi is sketchy in rural Oregon campsites, plus I’ve got to pee so bad my back teeth are floating.
People are friendly in Vernonia, Oregon.
Within minutes of cycling into town, a woman told Ryan how much she liked his new Nikes; another woman asked me if I needed directions (I must have looked confused); and a motorist braked sharply so as to avoid ruining the photo I was about to take.
Other strangers said hello, and as we cooled our feet in the Nehalem River, kids floated by in inner tubes. No one swore and I couldn’t see any graffiti. Perhaps we’d entered the Twilight Zone.
Under cloudless skies, we’d just cycled 22 miles across wheat fields and through forests on a paved trail from Banks, about half an hour west of Portland. At Mile 12, Leah and Emma decided they’d had enough and cycled back to Banks while Ryan and I rode on the Vernonia. Ironically, that meant the ladies actually cycled farther than we did, and they were nice enough to drive to Vernonia to pick us up.
If, like me, you fall asleep thinking about next morning’s coffee, you’ll understand the creeping anxiety of waking up at 6 a.m. to join a mass bike ride through Portland – America’s capital city of coffee – only to discover the entire 26-mile route doesn’t coming within sniffing distance of java. Otherwise Sunday’s annual Province Bridge Pedal was excellent, particularly stopping to enjoy the views from the Fremont Bridge – closed to vehicle traffic just once a year for this event.
Tacoma’s a nice place. Who knew?
There’s a decent boardwalk for bikes and pedestrians, with lots of fishing piers and waterfront pubs and restaurants. Downtown is a mix of reclaimed warehouses converted into coffee shops, pubs and funky little fashion outlets. It feels a bit like Seattle in miniature. There’s a pedestrian bridge to Tacoma’s glass museum featuring two glass trees created by Dale Chihuly. Chihuly is to glass blowing what Frank Lloyd Wright is to architecture. Ryan thought the random glass foliage was actually plastic bags, but then he was looking from a distance and hadn’t eaten in 20 minutes.
Best of all, for fans of 1999 movie 10 Things I hate About You, Tacoma is home to Stadium High School, one of the most impressive-looking schools in all of North America. All brick turrets and Gothic spires, Stadium High School stands on a bluff over looking Tacoma and towers over a steep-sided stadium. Ryan and I tried to get in to kick a ball around, but it was all locked up. 10 Things I hate About You features Claire Danes and Heath Ledger (RIP) and was based on Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew.
Our accommodation beside the I5 freeway at the La Quinta Inn and Suites would not be noteworthy, but for the fact that it was full of middle-aged rockers wearing wigs and spandex. The lobby looked like a Richard Simmons video gone horribly wrong. Turns out Motley Crue were playing the Tacoma Dome half a mile away. Vince Neil must have worn them out because they were a lot quieter coming back than going out.