Friday, August 8, 2014

Day 1 Riding WITH the wind....

August 6
Still in Portland

The ancient Greeks knew all too well that the end of one journey often signaled the beginning of yet another.  Although I'm hoping for something a bit less perilous than the Odyssey, I do look forward to the new and exciting adventures we will have on our way home! And just as the Odyssey got its very own title rather than "A TRIP TO TROY: PART 2", our journey home will have its very own title, and it's very own beginning.

So, the clock has officially been reset. Today is Day 1 of  Riding WITH The Wind

Today's entry is entitled:

The Holocaust, Cancer and the Art of Listening

Today was our first day when J didn't have to pack up all the stuff back in the truck. The first day that I didn't have to do my stretches and eat a gazillion calories for breakfast. Today, we did NOT set

the alarm for 4:00/am and hit snooze until 5/am.

Today we slept until....sunrise and then a little more. And then we went out to explore Portland. 

For the first time in a month and a half, I purposely walked down the stairs, avoiding the elevator. It was painful. My muscles were used to pedaling and holding on to a bicycle. They were NOT used to going up and down stairs. I of course did this on purpose in order to replace some of the exercise loss from not cycling multiple miles each day. The sad thing is, choosing stairs instead of an elevator in a 4 story building is a poor substitute for cross country cycling. And it HURT. I knew in time the muscles would retrain themselves, and it didn't hurt that bad. Only when I walked.

So we walked around the downtown Portland area. Even on my first official day off, I kind of missed cycling and would probably have chosen to tool around the city on bikes if J was more into it. But in retrospect I'm glad we didn't use bikes. Portland is trying hard to be a cyclist friendly city, but the traffic is pretty heavy and just taking a "leisurely" cycle tour of the city. Just didn't seem possible. See pics below for a continuation of the story.
Aside from the heavy traffic, trolley rails lace through the heart of the tourist area. They are actually called Streetcars and they are pretty cool for pedestrians, but could cause major pain to cyclists who are not paying attention.

As I looked at the massive grooves in the road, I was reminded of the enormous groove that I fell into in Montana.
Even their yellow warning signs to cyclists seemed to be a 22nd century petroglyphic representation of my fall in Montana. I fell better than the guy in the picture though. I went down WITH my bike, not OVER it.

So, it was much more relaxing to just walk around rather than cycle. But there were a few snazzy looking bikes around. This one looked much nicer than the picture portrays.

Since I had just eaten a sensible breakfast, our first stop was at a local doughnut shop to get more food. 
Our first doughnut shop (yes there were more) held great promise, but was mildly disappointing. Blackberry compote w/peanut butter powder may SOUND good, but when you have to take two or three bites before you actually get to a tiny smidgen of blackberry compote, it makes you want to hit something.
So we hit another doughnut shop. This one was a bizarre place called Voo Doo doughnut. When they originally opened they were serving unique doughnut combinations such as doughnuts iced with NyQuil  and Pepto Bismol....REALLY. The flavors I saw on this day were a bit more in the actual range of DOUGHNUT flavors rather than medicine. Fresh from my blackberry compote trauma, I wanted a flavor this time that I could actually SEE.  What I chose was the delicacy pictured above. If that looks like bacon to you that's because it IS! You're looking at a bacon/maple'glazed doughnut...or at least MOST of it. The first bite was already in my stomach. I couldn't wait. I have my priorities, and biting into a bacon/maple/glazed doughnut comes before taking a picture of it. It was FAR more satisfying than the tragedy of the blackberry compote.

 This box was sitting behind the counter at the blackberry compote doughnut place. Taking a picture of this box was much more satisfying than eating the doughnut.

 After eating the doughnuts, we started to look for a museum or art gallery, but we never made it there.

On our way to the museums, we passed by the place above. It's called the Living
Room Theaters. I had read about it on Yelp when checking out interesting things to do. It's basically a movie theatre that serves food. But calling it like that would be like calling the Queen Elizabeth II a boat that carries people around. This place is AWESOME!!! I know I use that word a lot, but in defense of me, I save for only places that are AWESOME!! Did you see that word attached to the blackberry compote disaster? Nope.

The bottom line is, we did not travel 3,400 miles across the country to go see a movie. There would need to be enticingly extenuating circumstances for us to spend our one day of sightseeing in a MOVIE.  So we went inside to check it out.

Inside, the place is....wait for it....wait for it.....AWESOME! They had a nicely appointed little lounge like waiting area and a helpful staff that talked us through the whole experience. The deal was, you would order your food and beverage ahead of time, and they would deliver it to you before the movie. After the movie started, you could go back outside to get more stuff if you wanted, but they would not interrupt the movie by coming in. Inside the theatre itself, you sat in large, comfortable chairs equipped with holders and table trays to hold your goodies.

And I do mean GOODIES. The menu consisted of an eclectic mix of items such as spanish potato quish and spicy tuna role that you could eat like a sandwich. The final deal sealer was that The Fault in Our Stars was playing. Both J and I have wanted to see that movie since it came out. We were sold.
 So J bought the tickets and we dedicated two hours of our precious day in experiencing a Queen Elizabeth II style movie "boat ride".
It was FABULOUS. (yes I know, I just made "awesome" jealous)
My favorite gastronomic delight of the event was there cucumber elixir thingy. I'm calling it that because I don't remember the exact name. But it was primarily made of cucumber and something red. It as delicious and non-alcoholic of course.

So why did I title this entry The Holocaust, Cancer and the Art of Listening. Ready for the connection?  Here goes!

Let's start with listening. REAL listening, not the surface stuff. I think there are maybe three people in the world that are EXCELLENT listeners. The rest of us have to work on it,...EVERY DAY. Enough proselytizing...back to the movie.

That day both J and I WERE listening...not just to the surface criticism..."You went to Portland to SEE A MOVIE???" but to something else....we LOVE John Green, we LOVE sushi, we LOVE cucumber....oh hell, we came all the way to Portland to see A MOVIE!!!!!!!!

It was one of the most pleasurable and I dare say even romantic experiences of our collective J&G life. That's the listening part.

The Holocaust and Cancer part deal with the movie itself. Don't worry, I will not be spoiling the movie for you. If you didn't already know that The Fault in Our Stars deals with teens who have terminal cancer, I haven't ruined a thing for you. 

There were many memorable images from this movie however, two powerful ones that hit directly home for me were a quote from Anne Frank and another one which the lead character spoke. No plot giveaways here, just the quotes.

First Anne Frank:
I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I'm free.” - Anne Frank

As you know, I've had multiple answers to the question, "What are you riding for?". Ms. Frank has given me yet another.  "I ride to experience the miracle of life to its fullest. To take advantage of this gift, so that I may NEVER take it for granted. I ride because I CAN and to honor those who would love to...but can't. That's why I ride."

Next a portion of a speech by the lead character:

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.”  John Green The Fault In Our Stars

This quote, as with all well spoken thoughts on love made me think of J and our life together. Life with her has made time infinitely precious to me, and I am grateful for each numbered day.

So an afternoon at the movies in Portland gave me a wealth of memories that I will now cherish forever.

But the memories did not end there. After the movie we decided to stop by Powel's Used Book store for literary desert. Not LITERAL desert. We'd already had our doughnuts and sushi. We wanted something to finish off the wonderful main course which John Green had provided. Powell's had just the right thing for any literary taste. For me it was three books on cycling to top off the heavy after taste which The Fault in Our Stars had left. Don't get me wrong, I loved the movie. But afterward I needed a lighthearted manual on "50 cycling trails in Portland" as an emotional aperitif.

On the way out, I noticed a new word on the wall which finally captured that "feeling" that I always got whenever I walked into a Barnes and Noble, or pretty much ANY book store. I always thought that the "feeling" was attributed to the fact that being around so many books simply made me FEEL smart. I mean it! I swear that I can FEEL my I.Q. go up two or three notches just be being AROUND books. I don't even have to READ them! But apparently, I was wrong. I was being duped into that feeling by a condition called "smellbound". You can read the definition of smellbound below.

That night, we settled into the peaceful slumber of a coupe who did not go to bed particularly early, and did not have to get up particularly early. We felt as if, for the first time all summer, we were truly on VACATION. It was a delightful sleep.

And thus ended Day 1 of Riding WITH the wind...

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