©2022 Michael Raven
I have finally gotten settled in at Portland, although it’s later than I might have hoped at 9pm local.
And, boy, I got an adventure after a dud of a beginning. Nothing nail-biting, but still a little more fraught with tension than I had expected.
The ride itself ensured that I don’t make rail my first choice of travel. It was loud, a lot of stop and go, and apt to give someone a bit of nausea in places. Plus, while there was certainly some scenery along the way, the bulk of the “scenic” portion was graffiti-tagged surfaces, broken down industrial equipment, fences and rust. Passing as we did through every Podunk town between Seattle and Portland, we saw the deteriorating underbelly of each place we passed through because people like to leave useless, broken things by railroad tracks. The ride itself was comfortable in the main, but not as luxurious as some riders will have you believe. I’m glad I didn’t take this journey by train — I think I would have regretted it.
I got off the train and it was darker than expected and the street lights were dimmer than I’m used to. And there were far more tent cities lined up between the depot and where I needed to walk. I got a bit nervous, because there were more people with obvious mental health issues and these people were wholesale blocking the sidewalks, forcing you to walk in the street to bypass them. I saw one guy pushing a human turd down the sidewalk with the edge of his shoe and the space-cadet conversations with far more frequent that I could have imagined.
I normally have a live and let live policy about such things, and I don’t get rattled easy, the lack of light and the jungle feel to unfamiliar streets made me wonder if I shouldn’t have called a Lyft or an Uber.
That said, once I got to the main drag I suspect with be my primary frame of reference, it wasn’t quite so tense. I managed to find my hotel with only a minor issue (I didn’t see the check-in desk at first and thought I went through the wrong door), but the doorman had returned to his post and got me pointed in the right direction.
I got everything set up and did a mental jump of joy that my room was on the 6th and top floor (I dislike heavy-footed people walking over my head) and, while the lobby was nice, I kept my expectations low. As a frequent traveler for my workplace prior to the pandemic, there are a lot of “4-star” hotels undeserving of that accolade — I’ve stayed in some pretty shoddy places that were supposed to be the cat’s meow. More often than not, something doesn’t work, is broken, is mildewed, is stained, is poorly maintained, etc. This hotel is only worth of 3-star designation, but I can tell you that it ranks higher already in my opinion.
That’s a king-sized bed with six pillow, vented windows (for fresh air) and nothing looks beat to hell. Tons of lights. Can you believe this is only costing me $15 more each night compared to the place I had considered staying at that had a shared bathroom and a room about half the size of this one? And, the other place did not have a kitchenette.
That’s a quarter-fridge, mini-sink, 2-element range (with pots, pans, cutting board, silverware, plates, wine glasses, etc.), and cloth towels so you can wash your dishes. I am saving at least as much as I paid in the cost of preparing my own food while I am here.
And, I got my evening feast from Whole Foods, which is less than two blocks away for the cost of less that two full meals out. And, it will cover my breakfast and lunches for nearly the whole time I am here… Yes, I will have to buy more stuff for dinners unless I eat out, but I’m tempted to do that too for no other reason than I hate getting taken to the cleaners for very basic food (for example, my breakfast was $11 for a dry scone and a latte, and my hamburger lunch cost me $21 — both before tips for adequate or minimal service). I can spend less than $10/day in food beyond what I’ve already purchased, but I will obviously be spending a bit more because of the coffee and the novelty foods.
Even the bathroom is a stellar arrangement, with pumps for shampoo/conditioner/soap instead of those stupid hotel samplers.
So far, my only complaint is that I have to play a game with my laptop and phone to get wifi. For whatever reason, certain password-protected networks hate Chromebooks. I can’t log on directly. But, my phone can and I can turn on the hotspot feature of my phone, log into my phone and have access to the hotel’s speedy internet.
Another thing I should mention is that I need to give a shout-out to the Whole Foods guy who helped me set myself up to get the Amazon Prime discount available on many of the foods I bought and, when the phone wasn’t loading the app fast enough, gave me the discount all the same to make sure I had it. In the process, he almost forgot to charge me and was friendly as hell when he found out where I was staying. Apparently he was put up here by his apartment complex when something went awry and “it was the best two months of apartment living I’ve had in my adult life”. We were instant buds as far as he was concerned. And I was grateful for him getting me all set up.
I need to sign off — the food, the day, and the lack of sleep have caught up with me and I need to crash something hard.
See you on the other side.