Leaving Portland (Again)
If we text each other regularly then it’s likely I’ve already had to apologize about the unsavory texts my phone has been sending. I don’t know if it’s old age or the result of being dropped one too many times, but my phone has developed Tourettes syndrome. Karie sent me a text asking if I needed anything from the grocery store, and before I could type a response my phone had already sent a text saying, “Aaaaaayayayayayay!!!! Mira, ven acá! Rrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiccccccccaaaaaaa mamasita!” Karie did not speak to me the rest of the evening, and before going to bed she texted me, “Whatever it is you have in mind, count me out.”
The phone has been on this kick on and off for the past couple of months, and though I’ve had plenty of time to replace it before leaving to Alaska, I didn’t. It’s not that I’m cheap. The reason is really sentimental. This phone has been with me on every epic adventure I’ve embarked over the past four years — the John Muir Trail, the Colorado Trail, the Grand Canyon (twice), and throughout all of Mexico, Central, and South America. It has been my navigator, translator, camera, and confidant. Anyone else would have just tossed it without a second thought. I just couldn’t. So I've committed to taking my old phone along on its final adventure.
I've been watching Russ's northern adventure unfold over the past few weeks and it looks like he's well on his way to reaching the Arctic Circle. My adventure begins in Portland, OR and will take me on a different route. On day one my phone and I got on our motorcycle and set off to Bellingham, WA — the first stop on our way to Alaska. The route is a straight shot on I-5, so navigation wasn’t really necessary, but one look at my phone and I could hear it, “C’mon, let me do this. I can get us there.” And I thought, Oh, why not, so I launched Google Maps and programmed our destination. Somewhere in Olympia, WA, I was given the unexpected instruction to exit I-5 and merge into 101, and I quickly — but not quickly enough — realized that my phone was at it again and I was now headed to Port Townsend. We were still moving in the same general direction, so I decided to keep going rather than turn around. I asked Siri for a breakfast suggestion and a place called Blue Moose Cafe was offered as the top choice.
The Blue Moose Cafe is nestled within a shipyard, but it’s not difficult to find. Just look for the hungry people lined up outside a small blue building. The restaurant interior is cozy and somehow they manage to move customers through relatively quickly and without making anyone feel rushed. I sat at a table next to a couple of ladies who were preparing to share a dessert. A slice of pie or cheesecake of some kind, I think. The lady sitting next to me — Audrey, I believe was her name — turned the pie so the point was toward her friend and handed her a fork. “Oh, go on,” she said, disregarding her friend’s continuous refusal. Her friend — Ethel — knew better than to argue with Audrey, so she took a bite of the pie and said, “so what happened?” Audrey looked in my direction and I pretended to study the menu. She leaned closer to Ethel and continued her story.” Apparently Audrey’s grandson, whom she said was gay in air quotes, had shacked up with a woman twice his age and was now running a winery somewhere in Oregon. “Well, good for him,” Ethel said, but Audrey wasn’t having it and gave Ethel a disgusted look that said so. “Oh, you know how it is,” Ethel continued, “sexuality is fluid now.” Audrey snatched the fork from Ethel and dug into the pie in a way that said, I’m done talking about this. Ethel got the hint and with a sigh went for her pocketbook, then they had a little fight about who would pay the bill — It’s my treat. No, it’s mine — before finally settling on splitting it. Audrey counted the money and handed it to the waitress, but not before adding, “The pie was hers, so…”
Once they got their change, Ethel reached in her purse and pulled out a stack of crisp one dollar bills. She said they were freshly pressed from this morning. “I always like to leave tips using crisp bills. My hope is that the staff will see the crisp new money and they’ll want to save it rather than spend it. But, of course,” she sighed, “they always spend it.
“On drugs, or sex operations, probably,” Audrey added. Then she went on to explain to Ethel that there was no need to press her money anymore. “You can go to the bank and ask them to exchange your money for brand new money,” she said, “they have that service specially for people like you.” Ethel was pleased to hear about this service and stacked one extra dollar on the tip as she walked out. Then Audrey snatched the stack of brand new bills and tossed a tattered five dollar bill in its place.
The food was delicious and the town was delightful, but it was the people I enjoyed the most in Port Townsend. I’d like to go back sometime and spend a few days there. Enough time to meet some of the locals.
To continue on my journey I had to take a ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville, and this turned out to be a painless process. You can make reservations and buy your tickets online, or you can just show up and wait to be surprised. Either way, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get to where you’re going without much trouble. The ride around Port Townsend and, later, Coupeville reminded me of San Carlos de Bariloche — a city in the province of Rio Negro, Argentina. Any moment during this ride I expected to see a sign in Spanish and wake up to realize I was still in South America, and that the return home had only been a dream. You know, like one of those psychological thrillers. Luckily I was in America and well on my way to Bellingham, WA. Or so said my phone, whom I’ve now come to regard with suspicion.