Two weeks ago today

Was the beginning of my annual road trip.  This one wasn’t long, unfortunately, nor was I ever more than a day’s drive from home, so I wonder if it really even counts.  But I had my reasons, first of which was that I was doing research for the new novel, which is set on the Oregon coast, and second of which is that I’m sort of saving up for another long trip in a year or two, I hope, so this trip was shorter than normal.

The morning mostly consisted of a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Portland, Oregon, in the pouring rain.  This late in the spring downpours of that duration aren’t usual, but it could have been worse.  It could have been hailing (our hail is more properly called graupel — pea-sized blobs of slushy ice — not real solid-ice hail with rings if you slice it open), or it could have been booming and crashing.  Spring is, after all, when we get our rare thundershowers.  So my windshield wipers got a workout.  No big deal.  If I let the rain stop me from doing things in this part of the world, I wouldn’t do much, that’s for sure.

I arrived in Portland in the late morning and made my pilgrimage to Fabric Depot, which is one of Portland’s stores on steroids and the biggest fabric store in the U.S.  Over 1.5 acres, or so their website says (they’re housed in an old Fred Meyer, which is the local answer to Target or Walmart).  This was by no means my first visit there — I usually make a Portland run at least once a year to hit this store and Powells (the other store on steroids, about which more in a minute) — and I usually time it to hit one of their sales.  Which I did this time.   I won’t go on about it anymore lest I start sounding like a commercial, but I will say just two more words.  Quilter heaven.

In the afternoon I hit my other store on steroids, the above-mentioned Powells, which is another biggest-of-its-kind store in the country.  To say that Powells sells books is to say that Microsoft has this little operating system.  Their main location, in downtown Portland, is a full city block and four stories tall.  They hand you maps at the door, in lieu of breadcrumbs, I suppose.  The rooms are color-coded as well.  I wonder how many customers they lost before they started doing those two things.  They sell new and used books, side-by-side on the shelves.  I’ve never been to any other bookstore that does that, although I’m sure there are some out there.  At any rate, I spent most of the afternoon there.

I spent the night at the Hawthorne Hostel in southeast Portland.  I like hostels, although they’re few and far between in this neck of the woods.  This one is in an old Craftsman-style bungalow with a great many “green” updates.  Part of the roof, for instance, is covered with growing plants, and they have a cistern, which runs the non-drinking water water things like toilets.  A lot of hostels are run by what my father used to call “those hippies.”  I rather like it.  It makes for a nifty ambiance.  And it was right on a bus line that ran straight to downtown, so I didn’t have to fight traffic the next day.

I didn’t take any pictures this first day, nor did I two weeks ago tomorrow, which I mostly spent at the Oregon Historical Society Museum library, and exploring downtown Portland.  I promise you that starting with two weeks ago day after tomorrow, I took more than enough photos to make up for it.  Really.