Portland is a quality joint. Much more my kind of place than the other west coast cities i'd been to - Seattle and Vancouver - a very liveable place. although the blistering sunshine definitely shrouded my judgement. The place definitely had a smattering of cool districts in which to hang. Hawthorne Boulevard, the Pearl District, the North Alberta street area and the Alphabet District all provided stimulating street life and cool hipster hangouts.
Unlike Vancouver, the urban landscape was pretty unimpressive as was its recent attempts at densification but at ground level it really shone. Incredible greenery gave life to the 'sidewalks' while the architecture was tasteful in the extreme.
Circumstances on my arrival dictated entirely the terms of my stay in Portland. As per fucking usual, I sent out my couch surfing requests at the 13th hour. So I spent much of the first day hanging around, and squandering my money in, Backspace Internet Cafe (although the beautiful soup and fine espresso boosted my mood somewhat).
In a state of desperation I had sent out a few more requests (had since found out that all the hostels were full and I would have to stay in some gammy hotel - disastrous), one of which to my eternal surprise was replied to almost immediately by Ivy. The tone of the reply sounded a bit tetchy but i had a couch. Happy days. Anyway, I have skin thick enough to ride out any such situation !
When I arrived at her gaff (which also contained Nick, Simon and their daughter Linsey) I realised I couldn't have been more wrong. She is a tribute to couchsurfing, a modern day Florence Nightingale !! Her profile claimed to "shelter the couchless, feed the weary traveler and impart vino to the thirsty". She was true to her words. As she said herself to her friends 'if you want to restore your faith in humanity, try couchsurfing'. Well she certainly does.
I had only intended to stay for a night but i ended up there for five. We got on really well. Sound girl. On the saturday I joined all the housemates at the Clackamas Whitewater Festival for a camping trip. There we met up with Chris and Greg - a good friend of Ivy's and one seriously funny guy. I left Portland for Eugene on the tuesday. Ivy and her friend Gerard decided to join me. We failed to locate couches for the night but Gerard opted to chauffeur the three of us and his dog Mr B in his eh.....fucking school bus !!
That a way to travel ! easily the coolest mode of transport i have ever taken. Them were one funky set of wheels. He bought it for a mere $800 to use for his friends stag party. its class inside too. took out all the seats and put in a wooden floor and surround sound. there's also a couch bed and a coffee table !
We picked up three scruffy hitchers who had been jumping the freight trains around the country. I then said my goodbyes and caught the Coast Starlight bound for San Francisco - a city for which i have very fond memories.