Thursday morning I woke up at six and downed my coffee, got dressed in a comfortable outfit of jeans, t-shirt, a zip up polar fleece, and tennis shoes. Finished packing my last minute items like the phone charger and hairbrush and rubbed my fleece all over Radar so Woody could smell her. Headed off to Charlotte and watched the sunset come up as I headed north. I’ve only driven into the airport once, last year, and don’t really remember the exit into the airport. By this point Mike called me back after I texted him at the gas station asking him to call since I figure he’s the only person I know who would be up and not doing anything that could prevent him from chatting. He’s more familiar with the CLT airport and tells me to just follow the signs. I do and end up in the long term parking and hopped on the shuttle to the airport. I felt slightly rushed of my own accord because it was closing in on the hour til departure mark and I was just walking into the main part of the airport. Security wasn’t taking too terribly long, but I felt like an idiot trying to remember the protocol. Other than acting slightly idiotic and panicked when someone does something like trying to remove something from their suitcase, it went smoothly.
I arrived at my gate easily and boarded the plane with no problem other than right as I was about to cross from the apron to the plane, an airport person told me that my bag needed to be checked. I tried to ignore him and go on anyway, but he stopped me with a hand on my shoulder and I acted like I thought he was talking to the person behind me. They took my bag and told me it would be joining me in PDX. I was dubious about it but tried to look on the bright side of not having to heft it overheard or drag it behind me to my connecting flight in Chicago.
The flight from Charlotte to Chicago was amazing. I had a window seat and kept my face pressed to it the entire time, staring out at the landscape below me. The clouds were minimal so I got to see the Appalachians rising in the distance, and then slowly we came to be flying right over them. Seeing the ridges and patterns of the topography from overhead was enthralling. I don’t think the plane flew as high as it would if we were going a longer distance, because I was able to make out roads and tiny dots of houses the entire way. Seeing the green patchwork of the Midwestern farmlands made me wonder how those perfectly straight lines got made every single time. It was like a crazy quilt made with thousands of shades and hues of green. Before I knew it we were circling Chicago, which stretched out so much farther than I imagined, all of the blocks arranged in perfect squares with parallel and perpendicular lines laid out with precision to create the grid that Chicago is known for.
This was the most effortless plane ride ever, and I deplaned in Chicago and hustled a little between Concourses B and C through this amazing light and music show with softly tinkering music and magical lights that blink in time with the music, probably to calm down harried travelers. With about an hour between flights, I grabbed a crappy and not filling at all salad and ate it in the twenty or so minutes I had prior to boarding. The flight across the country was much longer and more boring than the first flight of the day. We immediately ascended into clouds, leaving with me nothing else to look at but a blanket of whiteness underneath the plane. I talked to the older couple next to me on the plane a bit, they are from Portland and were very helpful especially as it got closer to landing time and I became nervous about how to get myself from the airport to the coffee shop where Kellie worked in the Pearl District.
I deplaned again, found my suitcase in the baggage claim area fairly easy and headed to the TriMet ticket buying area and bought one for two hours worth of transportation. The tickets work on the lightrail, buses, and streetcars. I asked the worker where I needed to get off for where I was wanting to go and sat on the train listening intently for my stop name. It was a little jostly and crowded but this was the only time it was like that the rest of the trip. I got off at the Galleria stop and tried to figure out what direction to walk to hop a bus to get to Kellie’s work, but I could tell from my map that it was only maybe 10 blocks and decided to just walk. It was windy and a little cold to me since it was 70 degrees last time I was outside, earlier that morning in Charlotte!
I walked, and walked, dragging my roll on behind me and wishing that I had packed less books in my backpack. Finally I found the place and immediately dug into my carry on for my peacoat to help me warm up. The yay, there was Kellie! She got me some hot coffee that helped knock the chill off a little and I hung around until she was done with work. The salad I’d had in Chicago hours ago hadn’t done me any favors in keeping me full so I was starving at this point. I left my luggage in the back room and we walked down to a little restaurant and bar called Oven and Shaker in the Pearl District, where we had beers and a winter squash pizza. That pizza was amazing. I scarfed down my half, though savoring it with each bite for sure.At $17 for a medium sized pie it wasn’t cheap but I wasn’t in the mood to pinch pennies at the time.
I was exhausted from the day of travel so we went back to her apartment via lightrail and a ten minute walk. I was standing on the rail this time as opposed to sitting and watching a train on the opposite track rush past outside of the window was making me woozy. But we finally got to her apartment, and I was so excited to see Woody!!!
I had rubbed my fleece on Radar before I left and I can tell he smelled her and was wondering why I was there without her! We rolled around and hung out for a bit before I decided that I was hungry yet again. We drove (thank God) to the Alberta Arts District for Thai and pie. The Thai came from Cha Ba Thai where we split the spring rolls and I got some kind of lemongrass tofu soup. The soup was okay. I just don’t seem to love soups from Thai places, for some reason. Maybe the thought of all of the noodles, rice, and sauces that I love from Thai cuisine seem way more appealing. However, at the time all I wanted was hot liquid to radiate warmth throughout my whole body.
After the Thai we had some pie and autumnal drinks from Random Order Coffeehouse and Bakery. This was a hip little cafe that specialized in tasty pies, with at least six if not more options available. Kellie and I split an Oregon cherry pie and a pumpkin pie with a twist (what was the twist? I can’t recall), and I also got a caramel apple cider. THIS was the best thing I’d ingested all day. It was tart, sweet, smooth, spiced, and warmly soothing all at once in every single sip. I look forward to re-creating a similar drink here at home. We caught up and read some of the alternative weekly paper here. It was nice to just stay still for a while here.
And that was Thursday in Portland. I think I managed to stay up til 11 p.m. local time (2 p.m. East Coast time).