You might think that after three and a half weeks of travelling all over the USA we’d have a handle on this whole buying petrol thing now. We sort of had a horribly inefficient system of Dave parking up, getting out of the car, going in to pay the man a randomly guessed amount of money, coming back to the car to press the “open petrol thing” button, going to the pump, pumping the petrol, going back into the place to get his change from the randomly guessed amount of money, then coming back to the car and driving off. During these times, I would generally knit and eat mints. It was a good system and it worked great for us until we hit Oregon, which replaced our horribly inefficient system with a horribly inefficient state system instead.
You know those scenes in American films and TV where the driver cruises into a garage and is greeted by a man in a cap, who was previously sitting in a chair outside reading a newspaper, and the driver says “fill ‘er up”? Well that’s what you get here. It’s actually not allowed for drivers (or anyone else) to pump their own petrol and instead you have to wait for the poor petrol person to come over, tell them “put as much petrol in my car as it can hold, please” as if it wasn’t massively obvious what you wanted without saying anything just by virtue of the fact you’ve pulled up at a petrol station, and then wait in your car while they do it. Then you tip them.
Apparently only Oregon and New Jersey have this system, to “protect jobs”. How crap must that feel, knowing your job is literally just a sympathy job and has no meaning or benefit to anyone? Well, the lady at our first garage did clean the windscreen as well so at least she earned the tip.
We’re slightly freaked out by this system and hoping to make it into Washington on Saturday on the same tank, so hopefully we won’t end up in an awkward petrol situation of some kind. But anyway, this was the first task to navigate this morning before setting off to Portland.
The drive was scenic, but mostly on Interstate and therefore not very exciting. We were gratified to start seeing some of those quintessential red barns again, having not really seen any since the days of Iowa and Nebraska (oh how long ago that seems!). Maybe they’re a northern thing?
The first thing we noticed about Portland was bikes. Lots of people on bikes. We drove over a bridge with a dedicated bike lane, and saw about 20 cyclists in the 10 minutes it took to get from the outskirts to where we’re staying. We’re staying, in fact, at somewhere a little out of the ordinary; a complete stranger’s house. I’ve tried on a few occasions to get Dave to agree to try Airbnb, but he’s always been put off by the idea of weeing in someone else’s toilet. This time we didn’t have much choice, as we were running out of accommodation budget and all the decent hotels in Portland seemed expensive. So we ended up booking the spare room of a person called Heidi who had lots of nice reviews, an orange living room, and a bowl of yarn in one of the listing photos.
Turns out, Heidi has gone on holiday so we don’t get to meet her and talk incessantly about knitting. Instead she has a friend staying over to look after the house and cat and make sure we don’t die, and had sent detailed instructions about what to do if the friend wasn’t home when we landed. We managed to get into the house and meet the cat, found our room, dumped our stuff and went out investigating the area.
Well, the weather was STIFLING. That’s not a word normal people use, but it’s appropriate here. It was only about 27 degrees (“only”) but the complete and total lack of any breeze made it almost unbearable. Needless to say we didn’t get very far before stopping somewhere for a drink, and we had to pop into a comic shop halfway there for the air conditioning too. We settled in this little casual Cuban restaurant where Dave had a bowl of various kinds of fruits and meats (I’m assured it was lovely) and we attempted to cool down enough to continue onward.
Now, one of the first things I added to the Pinterest board on hearing that we’d be in Portland was a shop called Yarnia. You can probably guess what that sells. It’s always being advertised on Ravelry and I just thought it’d be nice to actually go in, so we headed off there. It was only a few blocks away, but we were both kind of surprised we made it without passing out. I’m happy to report that the lady in Yarnia was very nice and helpful, and I came away with some exciting new yarn.
The plan was to buy some wine, go out for something small to eat, then spend the evening on the back porch of the house drinking the aforementioned wine. We wandered slowly back down the main street, seeing all kinds of weird cute stuff. A “missing” poster for a lost sock. Lots of food trucks and tiny cafes with punny names. It’s all so very . . . Portlandy.
On returning to the house we discovered that the housesitting friend was home, so there were some brief introductions before we had to flee upstairs and peel off our awful sweaty clothes. We were worried it might be awkward staying in someone else’s house, especially while they’re not here, but the host is nice and friendly and the bed is comfy and we get to sit around in a proper living room in a proper (super cute) American house, it’s great! There are chickens in the back garden, chickens!
For food today we just ended up at a tiny fast food burger place a few minutes walk away, where the choice was hamburger, veggie burger or cheese burger. This type of simple menu with stuff on that we both like is what we’ve been missing! After food we ended up Ingressing down a few streets and into a square full of roses and a bench that was also an Ingress portal and a man doing what looked like Tai Chi in the middle of everything. We’ve got a bit more serious with our Ingressing lately and really wanted to take down the bench portal, but we didn’t quite have it in us. Maybe tomorrow.
A quick walk back to the house, during which we’re pretty sure an attractive young lady thought we were following her, and we spent the rest of the night sipping wine and listening to the surprisingly weird sounds that real life chickens make. Tomorrow hopefully we can see some of the city without the terrible, terrible heat ruining everything. Bring back the California fog!