This Portland stop- I can’t say if it went fast or slow. If I stayed just the right length of time or not enough.
Try to imagine what it’s like to find “home” on the road. The whole point of being on the road is that you aren’t at home. So it’s tricky. A seasoned traveler masters the art of appreciating unfamiliar spaces and faces; unfamiliar becomes familiar. Comfort becomes simply a shelter away from the scooter, traffic and elements. Loose definitions.

Since I’m not on a vacation and don’t have money to stay wherever I wish, kind folks around the country host me. And it goes really well. So far there has only been one time that was sorta awkward and that wasn’t because of my host. That was the other person she was also hosting.

maryI rarely visit with folks I’ve known for more than 10 years. I’ve known Erika since 1997. That’s cool. She’s seen me grow up. And her new homestead, Portland is beginning to feel like home. I can navigate around on my own pretty easily.

Thanks to their passion (and funding) I’ve been able to sample lots of tasty vittles. If you visited me here, I would know where to take you. I like that. Of course, there is lots more to explore, I can tell. I’m leaving with a sense that I’ll be back and quite hopefully with the dog and partner. Packing up the bags wasn’t so hard last night; staying has been tough, because I’m jumping ahead of myself. Duh, this isn’t home. I still have 4,000+ miles before I’m home and there’s no time to start missing mine.

My room had exploded, my stuff was everywhere and I caught myself reading three different publications. How nice to pretend I was home, on my floor in our house. I introduced them to Flight of the Conchords and so my evenings have been spent watching TV. Weird. I never do this. I was disappointed that after show 8 the writing wasn’t as good, but there were still some chuckles. Mary rides a scooter, too. Lots of people ride scooters here. There are like 6 scooter shops. And Corazzo, crafter of most things I wear while aboard my scooter-underhoody, jacket, gloves, and messenger bag!

I’m a selective person, I deliberate heavily before I buy. Last year, I searched and searched for a jacket. I looked online and went to motorcycle shops. Finally, at the scooter shop, tucked behind a sparse selection of lame jackets, I see the Corazzo jacket. Of course, it wasn’t my size, but it had lots of potential. The lame local scooter shop said, “two weeks before delivery.” I didn’t believe this and took matters into my own hands. Two days later, I had my Corazzo 5.0 jacket. And it fit, perfectly. Good, I had lost sleep worrying. I was leaving in two days, afterall. I would be screwed if this didn’t work.

IMG_1347Chelsea from Scoot Richmond also gave me her heavier Corazzo. Riding at this year means the weather conditions are volatile. So far, I’ve used three different kinds of jackets to deal with the climate. I’m riding with the heavier one now.

IMG_1350So, here in Portland, I have the chance to visit these fine folks. Cletis, the puppy, greeted me at the door. Then out comes Chad and then Bradford. We chatted; I chased puppy around, playing a fine game of tug of war and even some frisbee. Chad asked for a stack of my postcards and said he stuffs them in with single jacket purchases. That’s so cool. They gave me some hi-tech Carbone gloves. How nice! It’s strange to retire my others, but they are worn and offer no warmth.

Yesterday I was rushing to fit in little stops around the city. So after checking out Chad’s fine scooter, I was off. I’m fascinated with these two wheel machines and there is still much to learn.

Next was a visit with someone I met last year.

IMG_1357Justin, who runs Vespa Portland and Scooter King, which sells Genuine. Justin just switched locations and is now probably the contender for best scooter shop. In his old shop, you had hold your breath to get past someone, now we could breakdance and roller skate inside, it’s a huge warehouse. But it’s accented with warm, smart colors and just the right amount of boutique and rockin warehouse.

I played sales lady and talked to several customer; even helped answer some questions. Justin has more scoots than I’ve seen anywhere around the country. But, he’s out of the Buddy, for right now. IMG_1352This new scooting frenzy is unbelievable. Justin bought some P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER shirts. I wished him lots of luck, left some postcards with him and went to meet my friends for dinner.

The vegetarian dish I had at Swagats was scrumptious. Our conversation was amazing. The ride home was supposed to be easy. We were headed home to finish our shows and trade music. Erika asked if I was ok with the bridge. I thought she meant the Steel Bridge, and that one is ok. But she meant the Stadium Freeway Bridge, which is part of the highway!

I was following her and was still dubious that we were actually getting on the highway, even though we were clearly getting on the highway. I thought to myself that the ramp would actually lead us to another road, which is the case in many cities. You get on just for a second to get you over, if that makes sense.

Then I see, around the bend, a quite expansive bridge. And it’s high up. The wind pummeled me and our merging lane dumped us into the fast lane. A tractor trailer was beside me. And then another behind it. I was in the fast lane going 30. I couldn’t control my scoot in the strong wind, especially right now, with the suspension the way it is. I threw on the hazards and felt like this might be the end. Erika was gone. It was me alone, struggling. She’s not used to scooters. It’s beyond her. She would have no idea what it was like in my head right now. My arms were limp, this happens when I get nervous. I plugged along. People gave me sympathetic looks as they drove by. I think they were scared for me and wanted to distance themselves. Their looks gave reassured me. Had I been in California, someone would have made me a hood ornament. Thanks Oregon!

Phew. I made it and then I was on the Interstate. Yay! I’ve never been so happy to be on an Interstate. I jumped off AT THE FIRST EXIT and navigated my way home. See, I know where I’m going. I actually beat them home, but that’s because they were waiting at the exit further down the road. I almost puked. I had a full belly and there had been no time to steel myself for what was ahead, as I have in most bridge crossing situations.

IMG_2745So that’s my bridge story. We swapped some music and I plotted the route to Seattle. I’m well rested and caught up on work, kinda sorta. I’ve even had some Stumptown espresso. I’m in the Pacific Northwest, afterall, and I know exactly the shop to visit the SECOND I arrive in Seattle. Cafe Vivace. With the cold, I had to cut back on caffeine. Now it’s time to plunge into the thick, pungent espressos that await me. Crude oil. Yum!

I’m excited to switch back into traveler mode. I will be volunteering in Seattle and going on a group ride. If you are there, maybe we can meet. Let’s have some espresso!