I saw Portland from 12:40 to 12:45 today. Faster than a Japanese busload of people. That was all the time Greyhound would give me, as the bus was a bit late from Seattle. I found this rather rude, as I had put myself through getting up at 6:15 to reach that bus... Oh well. Could be worse.
I also discovered there is a Vancouver in Oregon as well. A bit worried I might have gotten onto the wrong bus there, a second. But no, I was very close to Portland, heading for my next stop. Which was Eugene, where I arrived in the afternoon, before Julia was finished working for the day. Hence, I had to pull out the survival instinct in myself, and go hunting for food. I found Perry's. It is next-door to the Greyhound station, and I was too hungry to go looking elsewhere. I just want to point this out, so that those of you who know Perry's don't put this together with my Sunday morning breakfast. Yes, Perry's turned out to be yet another restaurant where men keep smiling and winking at each other. I started to get funny ideas about the west coast. Whatever, having finished my meat-thing with green chili, I left the men for themselves, and went outside to wait for Julia.
Even though I may have mispronounced here name on the phone, I had gotten hold of the right person. She could confirm my suspicions about Perry's, and promised to take me somewhere safe for the night. In addition to being safe, she has a free-Net access which I have used eagerly to catch up with mail now. As soon as Julia and her two daughters Nicky and Brianna have finished eating their somewhat burnt dinner, I will be taken to a Country & Western karaoke place. Like, yeeehah, or something.
Eugene seems very nice. My host hasn't had her car broken into since Monday. The city claims to be the jogging capital of the universe, and is equipped with jogging lanes and sidewalks to prove it. Several retired American athletes live her, in perfect harmony with some stubborn hippies.
And we sure went to karaoke. Since this was the night "Mudslide" celebrated his umptieth birthday, everyone counting on the Eugene karaoke scene was there. From so many people, I would expect some variety with there being so many people present, but most of them seemed to go for Elvis or rather typical C&W. *shrug* Julia did Cindy Lauper's "Time after Time" and Cher's "Dark Lady" very well, and gave the evening some variety, I think. Not only did she sing, she also made enough toasts for "Mudslide" that I got the responsibility for taking the car home. Wheehah. I was told I drove slow, but that was just because I had some problems converting mph to kmh. We survived.
Next morning I taught Nicky and Brianna how Norwegian children clean up their rooms nicely. This took all day, actually, and I still felt I wasn't getting through to them. For some funny reason, they preferred watching TV all day, rather than go hunting for hidden treasures in piles of clothes. I haven't given up yet.
As soon as the working lady came home, we took off for the local State Fair. It wasn't particularly fair, really. The closest to being fair was the size of the amusement park there. The difference between European and American amusement parks must be that in the US there is about 50/50 percent things to do and things to it, while in Europe there is much more to do than there is to eat.
In addition to the cows and chickens in the food, I had great fun getting to see thousands of animals, waiting to become food or entertainment to people. They had a huge building crowded with all kinds of animals, being judged for everything but their inner qualities. Somewhat like a miss World contest for animals, I believe. Well. Having seen the laser-show in the sky close to midnight, we had had fair enough, and went home.
Today we planned on going to see Crater Lake, a state park not very far away from Eugene. Sadly, there was too much to do at work for Julia, so the trip was postponed for tomorrow. I ended up with spending the day jogging in the jogging capital, and lying around in the sun on the lawn, getting a really bright colour, which might come in handy when I get to California. I feel somewhere between well done and burnt.
Yesterday I finally did get to Crater Lake, and it definitely was well worth the wait and the three hour drive. Imagine an ancient volcano, so large that it would take more than an hour to drive around the inside of it. Imagine the peaks around the crater's edge have clear, white snow on them, and imaging there being a large lake in the center of the volcano, filling the crater with the most incredibly shade of blue. It was very, very beautiful. I more and more often stop to wonder why Americans go to Europe to see nature, when they have so many great places in their own country. This is a place you have to see, if you get to Oregon.
Oh, and a funny detail: In Oregon it is illegal for normal people to fill fuel on cars. As soon as you drive in to a gas station in Oregon, some employee comes running out and does the job for you. Strange law. Strange country.
In the evening we went out to Rock & Rodeo, the Oregon version of a disco place. At least half the people there wore cowboy hats, and the facial hair rate could compete with any part of rural Norway's. It looked like a discotheque, but as soon as people got onto the dance floor, it was easy to tell the difference. Instead of random body movements and smiling in the general direction of your partner, everyone lined up, waited for the right moment, and started moving synchronously in a wild set of patterns. Really fun to watch. Really impossible to get into in one night. So, I took a closer look at the details of the place. The walls were covered with pictures of the local bullrider heroes. (That is REAL bull, not some strange cult of motorcycle enthusiasts.) I had a nostalgic moment finding an original PacMan coinop in the corner. This place was SO stereotypically correct. Been there, seen it, done that. Didn't buy the T-shirt.
Now I going to L.A., where I am planning on finding a place with a beach to stay, possibly Santa Barbara. I am still feeling full from the real American waffle breakfast I was treated with this morning, which is good, as I have quite a few hours of bus ride in front of me now.
(C) 1995 BC Tørrissen