Friday, May 04, 2007

Scopophilians in Paradise (or Kim in Front of Everywhere we Went) ll (with Judy!)


Friday included a visit from Judy. With her we had the option of getting the insider hipster tour of the city and I'm afraid that we asked her to take us to all of the same places that her parents insisted on when they would visit her there. We went to the Japanese gardens which were beautiful and afforded, among moss covered maples, a partially obscured view of Mt Hood, and a rock garden that made me have a "whoa it's like I'm lying on my back on the floor looking up at the ceiling imagining it's the floor" experience as well as an opportunity for Judy to not have the front of her head photographed while she stood next to K.

Judy drove us all over the city for the day and so after the Japanese Gardens, which are on the west side of the city, we headed to the east side to Mt Tabor- which by EVERY account, even that of our gracious tour guide (I wanted to write hipster b/f tour guide but I don't want to upset her), relayed is that Mt Tabor is the only extinct volcanic cinder cone within city limits in the U.S. K is facing east here so looking beyond her to the far hill is the ridge that the Japanese Garden is on.

After some food on Belmont (another neighborhood, not wholly unlike Hawthorne but younger so a little less slick and a bit more cool- Portland has done a great job of integrating their residential and commercial districts so, like NYC everywhere you turn there's a block -or seven- of cafes, bike shops, restaurants) we went to the skate park under the Burnside Bridge where I felt like a total wuss and feared being beaten up by bad ass skaters, Judy ogled the dudes and K looked on in her serene way, finally sizing up that the older guy with the grey hair was her favorite (we all agreed- even Judy who no doubt was a bit more taken by the shirtless Stacy Peralta-Leif Garret combo). Actually that's not true and for all I know, Judy liked the guy who looked like he may have been the bassist in Linkin Park. Ha! That's probably not true either but I will say this in all honesty: when K and Judy showed up the dudes were obviously affected. It was great. It was also a skater maintained park where they don't wear helmets and their moms aren't on the sidelines checking that their pads are secured properly . I like skaters to be tough- these were. Excellent.

We eventually made our way to Powell's Books which everyone knows about. I looked at as many photo books as I could get through- not that many, despite what Judy and K thought. The last time I was at Powell's I did the same thing (I don't really buy photo books- they are too $$$ and heavy) and Robert Polidori won the contest of "best book perused" for his book Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl. And this time it was a tie between his book After the Flood about post-Katrina New Orleans and Lili Almog's book Perfect Intimacy (about cloistered nuns).
The evening with Judy was capped off by a couple slices of pizza and beer at a place near our hostel called Escape From New York. For Judy's version of events go here. Thanks to Judy for showing us around, and like she says on Play this was the first time we had ever really hung out (outside of a bar that is) and it wasn't half bad.


Portland is known for it's Saturday morning craft market. Everyone you talk to, and everything you read mentions it. It's held in an area that appears to be the oldest part of the city (most of the buildings have cast iron facades and the streets are cobblestone) and was the area where the farmers would bring their wares to be sold and shipped out on the Willamette River. It's also the Skid Row of Portland. So, I don't like craft markets and I didn't like this one. The state of crafts in America is really sad. That's all I'm saying - except this- maybe I'd be interested if everyone didn't make the exact same things. Everywhere. I want regional crafts- things that tell me something about the place where they are made- like those excellent Western, MD saw blades that were painted with farm scenes by people whose last name was Bender.

I was most impressed by the vegetarian dog chews made out of sweet potatoes strung up on lengths of hemp! Now that lets me know what it is to live in Portland and in the West.

We rented a car and took the scenic route to the coast (wait, its all scenic 15 miles outside of the city b/c Portland does not allow Sprawl.) It rained for the entire time that we drove but it was great. So green! So much moss! So beautiful! and this pretty girl always popping up in front of my personal electronic image capturing device.

This was K's first trip (and my third) to the West coast so despite the rain we played on the beach in Seaside, OR before getting a bowl of clam chowder, french fries and ice cream. Needless to say, not the healthiest day of eating during our trip. But we worked up an appetite chasing gulls and doing our best Reineke Dijkstra poses for one another.

On the northwest tip of Oregon is Fort Stevens park- a fort that was an active military installation from the time of the Civil War until the late 1940's. It's the only military installation in the US to receive hostile fire during WWII. There was also a Japanese freighter that ran aground there in the late 1800s, and the ship was abandoned. I believe that's the prow of the ship sticking out of the sand. Maybe it's not.

This was taken at the tip of the park where the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River meet. It was so beautiful- lots of clouds and wind and in the distance Washington, and the Astoria bridge.

This was awesome. On top of Coxcomb Hill in Astoria, OR stands the Astoria Column, a 125' tall monument depicting the history of the town built in 1926. Astoria was Lewis and Clark's last stop during their (Jefferson designed) trip across the the newly acquired Louisiana territory in 1805. The town's website says the column was designed by "New York architect Electus D. Litchfield, decorated by Attilio Pusterla, an Italian-born artist, and financed by Vincent Astor, the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor, and the Great Northern Railroad." The site goes on to say that the column was modeled after Trajan's Column in Rome and that it's the only "large piece of memorial architecture made of reinforced concrete with a pictorial frieze in sgraffito technique." The frieze depicts the history of the town ending with... The arrival of the railroad of course. Check out the link above to see some good pictures of the frieze.

I am still excited about this place! It was great because to get to the top you had to climb a spiral staircase and then you get out and...

Wham! you're dizzy, it's windy, raining and there are people up there throwing paper and small balsa airplanes off the top laughing and having a good time (good no one in Portland saw them.) Climbing those steps made me think about the time (20+ years ago) my family visited the Statue of Liberty. At that time you were allowed to take the stairs to the top. In the crown of the statue you could feel the statue shifting in the wind.

Astoria was great across the board- I left there thinking that I'd like to live there because of the column and a great bakery/cafe we went to that reminded me of all the best parts of Frostburg. Seems to be an interesting contingent of people there. We arrived at our friends Robert and Laura's house in Olympia, WA about nine hours after having left Portland, had a couple of beers and some good conversation with R before going to bed.

More to come...

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