Thursday, August 29, 2013


I’ve got a bed waiting for me at Bryce Canyon starting on the 3rd of September. I’ll be volunteering there helping with their nighttime astronomy program and answering questions in the visitor center during the day. This means that I need to start curving my route in the general direction of Southwest Utah and make the long trek across the Nevada desert. One other thing I need to do is clean up a little bit to look presentable when I arrive; meaning a haircut and a beard trim (just a trim). On the way to Portland I stop by Amy’s Barber shop in Vancouver, WA.  Ever since I went to the barber shop in Michigan that my friend J suggested I’ve decided to only patronize barber shops; the haircut I got there stayed neat for weeks and the barber really took her time on it. I find that Amy’s is no exception. Amy is the only one there and she’s finishing up by trimming the eyebrows of this 92 year old guy that races (present tense) corvettes. As she cuts my hair she tells me all about her store (been there for 8 years, in business for 15) and I tell her about my trip and get some recommendations for hikes. She trims the hair on the back of my neck with a straight razor and I feel much better though I miss having the thick beard to tug at while I’m writing this.

I get to Portland and just don’t feel like lugging around my camera bag or worrying about pictures for the day so I just head out on my own to Powell’s books downtown. In the area I find a tiny, well known sandwich place called Bunk Sandwiches and get their pork belly cubano and it is amazing. I ask the guy making the sandwich where would be a good place to go outside of downtown that had cheap beer and a patio. The girl beside him calls out “Bye the Bye”. It’s a bar on Alberta with a vegan menu. I wander through a park where an accordion, ukulele and violin trio are playing a song that I’m guessing is called “Whiskey Nazi” because those are the only words; it’s still stuck in my head a day later. I head over to Bye the Bye and order an IPA and sit outside and look around the neighborhood. There’s a large four square house behind a fence with the garden overgrown; lettuce has gone to seed and is pushing out from under the fence onto the sidewalk. The door is open and I can see garbage piled up against the walls inside. There’s a grilled cheese restaurant next to the bar with banquettes inside a schoolbus and the kitchen inside an aluminum airstream camper. It seems that food trucks really took off in Portland; to the extent that all of the trailers I see are semi-permanently parked in lots beside brick and mortar businesses, so I guess they’re not so mobile anymore.

As I’m making my way back to my car I see a guy walking down the sidewalk with a coat hanger and a slim jim (not the eating kind) a few feet from my car and decide to go ahead and explore another neighborhood. I head over to Hawthorne to a coffee shop called the Albina Press. I spend a while at a window seat reading the book that I bought from Powell’s earlier in the day and drinking a huge cup of coffee. On the way back there are a few specific sights that stick with me. The first is all the signs outside of cafes that state “Paleo-friendly”. There’s a sign next to a boarded up building that says “Portland IMPACT”, but the letters in “impact” have been stripped from the sign leaving only a slightly cleaner area under each letter that makes it readable. There is a marquee beneath the title where someone has drawn a rudimentary, headless, footless naked woman in black marker. She’s been transected three times by the letter rails on the marquee making this tetraptych of chest, belly button, hips and legs where the lines in the individual sections are almost unrecognizable as part of a person. Down the road I see a tree by the sidewalk in front of a nice house with a little hollow at the base. A sign has been hung calling it “The Fairy’s House” and little garlands and figurines fill it up.

I head out of the city after sunset to head over through Mount Hood National Forest. On the way out of town I see all the bridges that I’ve been cris-crossing over all day long. 

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