Last Friday my wife and I left the PDX zone and carved our way up the Columbia River Gorge. This is our humble travel blog.
Why is this called the “BBB Edition?” The clever reader will find three “B” words carefully hidden within this post that will illuminate. See if you can find them all.
We were driving down a busy two-lane surface street in Portland, Oregon. We were in the left lane. A few blocks away we would need to make a right turn in order to reach our destination which was, ostensibly, the ultimate goal of the expedition.
You can probably see where this is going. Kudos to me. I have done my job as a writer. This is called foreshadowing.
Everyone in the right lane was somehow able to sense my need and aggressively squeezed together like sardines in a can. It was truly something to behold.
Dammit, I thought angrily to myself. I knew I should have changed lanes when that open spot presented itself 42 miles back. Who knew that would be my one and only opportunity? But that’s the way this shit works.
I could have done what everyone else does and slammed on my brakes while nudging to the right daring everyone to miss me but that’s not my way. I like to be different. I like the path not taken.
In this case that was a few blocks further on down the road. And that’s where this adventure really begins.
Once again that special time of year is nigh upon us. The holidays. Where we gather with family and friends around fire and hearth to poke at each other’s eyeballs with forks.
Run. I mean that in a T-Rex-is-gaining-on-us-in-the-Jeep sort of way.
From time to time my wife will venture out to work for the Portland elite to line her pocketses with a few handfuls of coppers. She hangs out her shingle as consultant and efficiency expert. That means, of course, employers will spend their entire day trying to trick her into changing diapers, walking the dog and running to Starbucks for another Cornucopia of Venti.
The following is a true story. No embellishment.
It was Thanksgiving. The husband’s parents arrived for a two-week stay. The day after Thanksgiving the wife took off, on her own, to vacation separately in Palm Springs until the in-laws had safely left town.
Why didn’t I think of that?! Stoopid, stoopid, stoopid. Me so stupid! Me bad.
With the in-laws left home alone, the husband locked himself away in the office. The nanny watched their children. And the mother-in-law proceeded to grill household staff. “What the hell does she do around here, anyway?”
God bless us, every one.
I live in Portland, Oregon, which mostly receives electrical power from Portland General Electric. Founded in 1888 the company was eventually owned by Enron Corporation from 1997 until 2006 until Enron went bankrupt.
See? I just used a writing technique known as foreshadowing.
Foreshadowing is a literary device by which an author hints what is to come.
By dropping the name Enron, you are now on notice that this story does not bode well. The portends are decidedly not in our favor. It’s time to omen up.
Yes, I’m being mysterious. I’m trying to leave you in the dark. Just like Portland General. Bazinga!
Being a major metropolitan area, the City of Portland is designed with security and reliability in mind. Power outages simply do not happen unless:
- The wind blows up to one (1) mph
- A squirrel gets hungry
- Water magically falls from the sky
- A drunk person, in a trillion-to-one event, rams their car into a pole
Such simple criteria means the city loses power about every 42 minutes. Who knew that cramming 625,000 people in the same area would make stuff happen? Yes, I live in a city where squirrels are frequently blamed for power outages.
At least Portland is safe. No one, not even a terrorist, could ever fuck with this city unless:
- A tweaked out kid needs to take a whiz in a city resevoir
- The wind blows and a branch falls and an entire power grid goes haywire
- Water magically falls from the sky
Portland has many names. The City of Roses. Bridgetown. Stumpdown. Rip City. Little Beirut. PDX. Cloud City. But, during autumn at least, it could also be known as The City of Leaves. (Leaves are the unpredictable byproduct of shitloads of trees.) And the city has a great strategy for dealing with them. “Clean ’em up your own damn self. You want your storm drains to work? Better get on it. By the way, we’re adding a street fee. You need to pay more taxes for this.”
So it rained on Sunday. We were out running errands. We had to retrace our steps. We drove through St. Johns. Then it started to rain. An hour later we went through the same area. It had already flooded the size of Lake Erie. It wasn’t even a heavy rain.
There had been a few brief gusts of wind. So, yeah, the power was already out. We pulled into a bar just as thunderous lightning spooked everyone in the place. They were amazed. Lightning? Wowwee. Perhaps Portland has exactly the power company it deserves?
We continued on our way and that’s when I noticed it. The traffic signals were are dark. None of them were red. None were yellow. None were green.
You know what that means, right? The entire city went Starman on steroids. Perhaps we can add “Starport City USA” to our lengthy list of nicknames?
[Starman is driving the car, and speeds across a recently turned red light, causing crashes for the other motorists]
Jenny Hayden: Okay? Are you crazy? You almost got us killed! You said you watched me, you said you knew the rules!
Starman: I do know the rules.
Jenny Hayden: Oh, for your information pal, that was a *yellow* light back there!
Starman: I watched you very carefully. Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast.
Apparently the collective wisdom of the hipster lumbersexuals in PDX is this: No street light, go very fast.
That’s weird because the law says an unpowered traffic signal is to be treated as a four-way stop. It’s so weird that no one in Portland knew that. Keep Portland weird.
So we sat at an intersection watching an endless stream of cars whiz by at top speed and we never got a turn. To pass the time we celebrated several birthdays. And I plotted revenge. Now I understand where Joker, Riddler and Penguin are coming from.
This may be my last blog post for a while. I’ve decided to keep my computer turned off when I think Portland General will be unable to keep the grid powered. By my calculations that means I’ll have a 42-minute window of electricity per day.
Next up, on Iron Skillet Chef America our celebrity judge feels he’s entitled to share his opinions. Alloy cuisine!!! –Ed.
As a proud “native Oregonian” I’ve lived in Portland, on and off, since 1981. I’ve been to a few places to eat along the way. From food carts to neighborhood pub n’ grubs to world class cuisine, Portland has a veritable plethora of long waiting lines guaranteed to satisfy most any connoisseur of the latest trendy thing.
Voodoo Doughnut? I’ve never been. The line has always been too damn long. Who has that kind of time for a doughnut with bacon on it? My trick? Go to two different places, grab a doughnut from a regular place and a side of bacon from a diner. Voila! I call that Voodoo without the wait. When you’re downtown you’ll people toting around with their little pink boxes of Voodoo doughnuts as if to say, “Look at me! I did the wait!” Pro Tip: That pink box goes really well with plaid.