Pilgrimage to Portlandia

Food Truck

Have you read “Wine Country Jamboree?” You might want to look at that first.

In the morning walk down the Willamette into downtown where I enjoy a lovely Sunday breakfast at the Broken Yolk Café before heading out of town. The place is open daily from 7:00am 3:00pm and, as the name might imply, serves breakfast all day. They also serve Bloody Mary’s, Mimosa’s, Irish Coffee and beer (oh so very Oregon).

I head back to the hotel, pick up my car and start on the road to my final destination, Portland. I should mention that I know people there. There are former coworkers whom I haven’t seen in 25 years and my step sister who I have seen in 15 years. She and her husband are opening a Guest House and I’ll be the first guest to stay there (just think of me as the laboratory rat of the Red Roost Guest House).

As I’m driving down the freeway I see a sign reading, “Aurora Historic District.” In my experience, historic districts of small towns can be quirky and fun places and, as I’m in no rush to arrive in Portland, I exit the freeway and drive the five miles down the road to check it out. There are about seven buildings and roughly five of them are antique shops. Apparently history is alive and well in this historic district. As I’ll most likely be selling my home, I’m not looking to purchase anything which I’ll have to turn around and sell on Craig’s List so I quickly move on. As I’m traveling to get back onto the freeway I see a line of forty-or-so people walking along the side of the two-lane highway with the people up front pushing a cart carrying flags. I pull to the side of the road, hop out of my car and ask if it’s a parade.

A Pilgrimage

“It’s a pilgrimage,” I’m told. “to honor our mother.”

“Who’s your mother (a little different than ‘who’s your Daddy?’)?” I ask

“The blessed Virgin Mary,” he responds.

He tells me that they’re walking 90.2 miles over four days, from Corvallis to Portland where they’ll end at the Grotto, which is a shrine to the Virgin Mary. This pilgrimage is organized by the St. John’s society through Oregon State University and Portland State University’s Newman Center. He asks me if I’d like to ask for a prayer (they take requests!) and, although I’m a Jewish girl, a prayer, a nice word or a good thought is always appreciate (couldn’t hurt – said with a Yiddish accent). After listening to the latest news on the car radio, I ask him to say one for just a bit of peace. That would be a good thing. We say our goodbyes and continue on our separate ways on our pilgrimage to Portland.

I arrive at my step-sister, Dana’s place and meet her husband and kids. It’s wonderful to see her as a mother. She shows me around her beautiful home which is located in an area of Portland known as St. John’s (looking at the first Drop Me Anywhere trip to St. John’s, Newfoundland, I think of this as a good omen). She then takes me downstairs, which houses the Red Roost Guest House. There are two bedrooms, with a choice of a hard or soft mattress (I’m a softy) a lovely bathroom, a sitting area/kitchen and a large living room with a flat screen TV (no regular reception but they do have Netflix). There’s even a separate entrance for privacy. The carpet is new, the tile is new, actually, everything is new. They’ve really done great things with this place and, even if I weren’t related, this would be a great place to stay.

live music

My plan is to head downtown in order to discover what great restaurants downtown Portland houses, but we all know how well planning works for me. As Dad said, “People plan and God laughs.” Dana and her husband Eric suggest we take a walk around the neighborhood to an camp fireinteresting location. This is a funky area of a small gathering of a farm stand and food trucks (yup, we’re in Portland) which include meatloaf sandwiches, noodles, hotdogs and beer. Yes, there’s a beer truck! There’s also live music, a campfire and a bus with sofas to lounge in.

live music

I step up and talk with Jackie, the bartender. After ordering one of the many local beers I ask Jackie what his story is, as he’s clearly not from around here.

Jackie the bartender

“No,” he says with a strong Scottish brogue. “I’m from Scotland, but I’ve lived here eight years.”

“Well, you haven’t lost a bit of your accent. How did you end up here?” I ask.

“Oh, that’s a story of unplanned travel and adventure,” he replies.

This just got interesting!

“Well, you see, I always dreamed of coming to visit America. I wanted to fly out to California and drive Highway 1. One day, I was working back home and I nearly cut off my thumb at work. I was due some Workman’s Comp. (it’s not just an American thing) and they offered me 600 Pounds. Then they offered me 800 Pounds. My lawyer told me to hold  out for more and, before you know it, they were offering 6,000 pounds. I took it and decided to use it to do my dream trip out west. When I looked into airfares, the cheapest flights were to Portland so I booked a flight and spent a few days in Portland before renting a car to drive down the coast. I went to San Francisco, Redwoods, San Diego and LA. I flew back to Portland a few days before my flight. As I had no plans, some people I met along the way invited me to stay at their house in Portland. They were having a barbecue that weekend. I showed up in my kilt (got to give the Americans their thrill) and I met this girl there. She had just returned from Mexico and arrived with a bottle of tequila (without a proper label, it just said tequila). Well, we spent the weekend together drinking tequila before I flew back home. That was 12 years ago. We stayed in touch and she came to visit me and I came to visit her. She came to visit me at Christmas and I took her to a very romantic place in Scotland and I proposed. We’ve been married eight years. It was the only unplanned trip of my life and it was the best adventure I’ve ever had.”

Oh Jackie, I can relate.

Tomorrow – Beer and Bikes. Oh, and the next vote!

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