Go West, Day 2

Oh, the Garminity!

Day Two
Hangin' around
Nothin' left to do but frown
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down

The Purls slept in as much as they could, but then awoke hungry. They also awoke with the realization that this is Portland, a place that averages precipitation 50% of the year. For James, this means 100% of his time there because he's got that kind of luck. The plans they tentatively had were to go on some of Portland's walking tours. Get out, get a little exercise taking in the sights and local cuisine. Portland's skies had a plan, too, and it was to dramatically increase the discomfort of said tours. The Purls needed a new plan--but first they needed breakfast. Mrs. Purl called for room service.

Mrs. Purl was able to discover the location of some of the beautiful Northwestern scenery, and they decided that they would take a different tour. A tour with a Cadillac umbrella. Feeling more like a VIP than ever before, James was able to "call the boy to have the car brought around". The "boy" turned out to be Tyson, and he earned his tip fetching a waterfall scenery map. It was a busy time for the hotel and Tyson had double parked the car in the street. It had sat so long that whatever vehicle was in the parking space between the curb and the street had left and Portlanders, without grumbling or missing a beat, swerved and used the empty parking spot to go around the vacant Cadillac. James hopped in, heard Tyson's pitch about the waterfall route, popped the Garmin suction cup on the windshield, and headed out.

A block later, the suction cup dropped the Garmin on the dash, inadvertently pushing a button. James moistened it and re-attached it.

A few blocks later, the suction cup dropped the Garmin on the dash, but as "luck" would have it, it didn't inadvertently push a button. Alicia decided to just hold onto it.

There is a scenic highway (the Historic Columbia River Highway) that runs along I-84 eastbound from Portland that allows access to waterfalls, a lookout destination called Vista House, and some trails. At the first stop, the Women's Forum Overlook, the couple beheld a breathtaking overlook of the river and the Vista House. This area is so photogenic, hacks with flip-phone cameras end up with postcard shots. At some point, on some place on James' network of sites and blogs, Alicia will post the pictures, but for the impatient inquisitive, I'm sure Google is your friend.

More than five minutes were given, never to be gotten back, to securing the damn suction cup before moving on.

The next stop was the Crown Point Vista House. My words won't do most of these places justice, even using the proverbial thousand words, so I'll be brief in my descriptions. Rather than sound like a tour guide, we'll observe the Purls and their foibles in this story. It should be pointed out that during most of this afternoon trip, the rain was apparently spoiling someone else's time as it allowed stops at Latourell Falls, Shepperds Dell, Bridal Veil Falls, Wahkeena Falls, the grand Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls.

At Shepperds Dell, a 2/3 mile round trip hike was required before seeing the Fall. This induced much huffing, puffing, resting at the benches, brow-wiping and zombie-speed walking. A family, parents (maybe even grandparents) and grown child awaited the Purls at the Fall. If the child-man's shirt was to be believed the family was either a fan or resident of Brazil. He showed off his bravado by climbing down off the trail and onto rocks near the Falls so his parents could yell out gibberish-y directions and snap off pictures. Alicia snapped off a couple pictures, careful to avoid Tiradentes, then the long hike back began. They moved slow enough that even the senior citizenry was able to pass them and arrive at their car before the Purls.

At Bridal Veil Falls, an ominous sign warned travelers of the threat of auto break-ins and to "take all valuables with you! It only takes 2 minutes". James got nervous, but not enough to touch that damn suction cup to remove the Garmin from it. Instead he only went close enough to the waterfall to keep the car in view while Alicia clicked off the digital memories. He would indeed move much faster than Brazilian fogies if a thug moved in on the car.

James thought Multnomah Falls lived up to the hype, and then some. If I were to don my tourism hat, I'd mention that it is also the only waterfall the Purls saw that was large enough to be visible from nearby I-84. But since I'm not donning my tourism hat, I'm not mentioning that... Forget I said anything.

The fall after Multnomah Falls promised what would surely be an exhilarating 1.1 mile hike. A hike fit for people not named James and Alicia Purl. A quick stop at the accessible Horsetail Falls gave them the last of their waterfall pictures. Next, they drove on to try to see Incredible 5 Mountain View, according to Tyson's map. It was a short 14 miles up. Speeding back down I-84 to the exit nearest the route leading up to that view, the damn suction cup gave up. James wished he'd just touched the damn thing, then, and saw Bridal Veil Falls up close.

The Purls arrived without incident, unless you consider the XM radio signal in the car coming and going an event. They arrived to see..... that it cost $5 a day to park here! Also, the view was a hike up, so they would have to leave the car to get the picture. The Luck of the James would dictate that precisely 10 seconds after they left eye shot of the parked and non-payed-for car, a ranger would materialize and ticket them. Or else the ticket itself would just materialize. Or, possibly, and this is a remote possibility, the money for the ticket would just be extracted from their account. They decided to pay the $5, sweat it out up those menacing stairs and be hella-impressed. They pulled up to the self pay thingy which was fresh out of envelopes, which also provided you proof that you paid. Sooooooooooo... 14 miles back down the mountain they headed. Alicia put on an invisible engineer's hat and discovered that the damn suction cup worked better when upside down. This worked, but gave the Garmin a weird tilt. This would be the last of the dealings with the damn suction cup. Brava, Alicia, brava! Is there anything nurses can't do!?

The Purls then decided to try to go see one of the five mountains in person, Mt. Hood. After not finding a suitable target for the Garmin, they just used Tyson's map to pick a city along the way for the Garmin to use. About this time, the rains began again and it began getting dark. Also, the New York Giants began to play and the AM radio signal played games with James, usually fritzing out when something good was going on. The darkness and rain finally took its toll on the Purls and they decided to go on to dinner. They chose Salty's, a seafood restaurant right next to river. They put that in the Garmin. It immediately urged them to turn onto a road in an attempt to get turned around (it was told to avoid U-Turns). James started to turn, then got a look down the dark, rainy, unpaved road into the forest. It was waaaaaaaaaaay too "Blair Witch Project" for his liking, and he waited until he could back out into the highway and head the right way.

Salty's was also near the airport, and the path the Purls took drove them right behind and around the airport. A sign on the way into the restaurant warned people to fetch their belongings, if they preferred to keep them, so they returned to the car to fetch the Garmin. They saw that Salty's honored not only the employee of the month but the employee of the quarter. The restaurant was a two story structure and the Purls were seated upstairs on the side of the restaurant behind the televisions that tempted James with the Giants game on. Salty's had a thirty dollar meal that included a choice of three appetizers, three entrees and two desserts. James chose the Salmon as a main course, while Alicia chose the steak. Both had the coconut prawns for openers and James took the white chocolate mousse cake for his closer. Alicia's closer was creme brule (the writer is too lazy to put all the fancy accent symbols in this text, imagine the accent marks, if you will). Both Purls got specialty non-alcoholic drinks. The food was good, but the portion sizes weren't for people with appetites the size of the Purls. Some company-sponsored group was living it up nearby. The waiter, being friendly, mentioned to James that there is no sales tax in Oregon, so if there were any *wink wink* big purchases to make this would be the state to do it in. This casual remark would plant a seed to be harvested later.

Thinking ahead to probably another lazy morning, James decided to swing by a grocery store on the way back to the hotel to get a breakfast for less than the $40 the room service cost. The Garmin has a neat feature to insert a point of interest into an existing route near the destination, so it found a Safeway near the hotel. "Near the hotel", means downtown, which means paid parking. They weren't about to pay for parking for a five minute trip into a grocery store, but lo and behold! Safeway had its own parking garage built beneath it, free to customers. Or you could pay and park street side. The Purls parked underground, got their dough-doughs and got back to where they once belonged. Back at the hotel, a valet that wasn't Tyson thanked James for trying to park the car. I guess it's always an adventure for valets when people just roll out of the car, still in gear, mumbling "Brakes and shifting into park are Tyson's replacement's problem--I don't have time for that sh**! What am I? Unemployed and able to drive around all day braking and parking!? Not bloody likely!" James and Alicia are common folk, Midwesterners who always shift their own cars into park, usually in a place meant for cars to be shifted into park.

Up in the room, the Purls decided to get some ice to finish the Domino's provided Diet Coke and watch a pay-per-view movie. The fates subliminally convinced them to wear their socks down to the ice machine, which had invisible water on the ground all around it. A zing! from the fates. Very Funny, thought James. They watched The Reaping with Hilary Swank. Alicia and James both had bouts of floadin, but the pay-per-view system had the ability to rewind the movie so they both ended up seeing it all. They enjoyed it. They told each other so before they decided to go to sleep proper. Good night and we'll see ya on day three!