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Monday, July 15, 2013

Another travel review: Portland

At this point, I don't think it's fair for me to travel anywhere without bashing the hell out of whatever city I visited. And for today's post, Portland takes its beating with style and grace. Haha just kidding; Portland takes its beating while complaining bitterly that it's "unfair" and "totally sexist" even though that doesn't make any sense, Portland, and why do you have to make everything into a gender equality issue?

So. My brother recently moved to Portland, and my mom, sister, baby niece and I all went down there this weekend to visit him. We used my dad's hotel points to score a free room at the Embassy Suites by the airport.

My brother's apartment is really easy to get to from I-5 -- you just take an exit, go across a bridge, make like two turns and then you're there. Too easy. Not a problem.

UNTIL WE GOT THERE AND THE BRIDGE WAS CLOSED FOR SOME STUPID GODDAMNED BICYCLE RACE. Because it's Portland, so probably they close all the bridges to accommodate bicycle races like twice a day.

Okay, no problem -- I just follow the detour signs and figure they will lead me to a different bridge, at which point we'll let our iPhones figure out how to get to brother's apartment once we reach the correct side of the river.

UNTIL THE DETOUR SIGNS LED US INTO AN INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX AND THEN STOPPED COMPLETELY. I mean this in all seriousness -- the detour signs for both cars and trucks just led into a gated industrial complex and then stopped. It was like some kind of rat trap they had concocted as an elaborate joke. This industrial park was swarmed with cars piloted by other drivers who were as confused as I was. How the f**k exactly is this an effective detour? Is someone going to show up here and shut the gate, then proceeding to torture us all to death for his own sick amusement?? Is a shuttle coming to take us all across the river?

So we turned to our technology and managed to find our way back onto the freeway, crossing at a different bridge and eventually getting to my brother's apartment. It all went smoothly.

EXCEPT FOR THE PART WHERE I WAS SO STRESSED I ALMOST CRIED BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY BICYCLISTS THAT IT IS NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP TRACK OF THEM ALL WHILE TRYING TO DRIVE SAFELY. Before you make any turn or maneuver, you first have to check for other cars, and then for pedestrians, and then for bikes. They all move at different speeds, and they will all become FURIOUS if you impede their progress for even a single instant. Boy, nothing like driving in a city you've never been to before, being completely lost trying to follow absolutely useless detour signs, and then also having to have complete 360-degree awareness of every moving object within 100 yards of your vehicle to create a nice stress-free environment. There were three adults in the car all looking around to make sure I didn't hit anyone/anything, and I still had a bicyclist become angry and shake his fist at me (I was nowhere near hitting him, I might add).

OH AND YOU ALSO HAVE TO WATCH OUT FOR STREETCARS. They also move at a different speed from the cars, pedestrians, and bikes.

Thankfully, once I had parked at my brother's place, we were safe from driving for a bit. We decided to take the streetcar train to a farmers' market and I was more than happy to leave the car behind for a while.

Off we went on the streetcar. So convenient, so quick, and free of charge to boot! Lovely!!! My brother hasn't memorized the system yet, being new to Portland and all, so he was watching our progress on GPS on his phone, ready to give us the word on when to get off. One of us asked him "how many more stops have we got to go?" and he answered "I'll let you know." It was at this point that the citizenry of Portland decided to insert themselves into our private conversation, because why not.

"Where are you trying to get?" asked a "helpful" young man in the stupidest f**king hat I have ever seen on a human. I didn't even have time to notice what else he was wearing because I was distracted by this hat. It was like a fishing hat, but made of straw. But it had a bunch of little charms hanging from it like a legit fishing hat. But he had no fishing paraphernalia with him -- just the hat. He was clearly wearing it for style. Also, he had douchebag facial hair and a douchebag face. I hated him immediately.

"The farmers' market!" my mom answered excitedly.

"Oh, you should get off here, then," said Stupid Hat. "It's just up the hill there."

For some reason, we listened to Stupid Hat. Why did we do this? I don't know. He just seemed so sure of himself. I mean, why would you butt in to someone else's conversation and give them directions unless you really knew what you were talking about?

Answer: you would do this if you were a 20-something Portland guy in a stupid f**king hat who needs to feel important for the briefest of moments even though you are an idiot.

So we got off the train and, 3/4 of a mile later, we arrived at the farmers' market only to realize that we could have stayed on the train and only had to walk like 2 blocks to get there. At this point I vowed to kill Stupid Hat if I ever saw him again.

Once we arrived at the farmers' market, I saw more stupid hats than I've ever seen before in one location. And my god, the fashion abominations I witnessed!!! 

I have a rule about shopping at thrift stores: it can be a great way to save money, but if I can look at your clothes and immediately know that you bought them at a thrift store, then you're doing it wrong. I'm talking about ill-fitting, completely out-of-fashion, moth-eaten hideous clothing that was clearly purchased in order to make a statement about how clothing is NOT how you define yourself. Yes, yes, I'm sure it isn't. That's why you spent hours putting together this wretched outfit to offend the eyes of everyone who sees you in it -- because people shouldn't judge each other based on their clothes.

I'm convinced that people who ACTUALLY feel that way about clothing tend to wear plain things like jeans and t-shirts everywhere. They certainly don't wear loud-print half-shirts with unmatching loud-print ankle-length hammer pants. Which is a real outfit that I saw some lady wearing.

And don't get me started on high-waisted short shorts. There's no excuse to ever wear those either, unless you're going out for Halloween dressed as "an asshole."

Also, bras aren't really optional, Portland. They're not. I don't care what your community college women's studies professor told you. Please wear a bra. A sports bra, a swimsuit top, even a tank top with a shelf bra built in will do. I'm not too picky. Just something that keeps your boobs from flopping down onto your stomach. This isn't National Geographic. I'm trying to eat lunch here.

After the farmers' market and a few other adventures, we attempted to drive to our hotel to check in and chill out for a bit before dinner. On this journey, we discovered that not only was the bridge over the river closed, but I-84 East was also closed. So, f**k you, Portland.

Anyway, once we eventually figured out how to get back and forth from the hotel to my brother's place, things mostly went okay. But it didn't matter -- the damage was done. Portland is a city that is impossible to drive anywhere in (because why drive when you can RIDE A BIKE OR TAKE THE TRAIN, right!??! Because this is America, dammit, and I like to drive! Plus we were traveling with a baby and all her baby-related accouterments  Not taking all that shite on the goddamned train). And it is full of annoying people in stupid hats and stupider clothing who want to get involved in your business and ruin your day by making you walk really far to get to a farmers' market when you're pregnant and forgot your back brace.

Also, it's entirely possible I spent too much time on the east coast before moving back out here. Entirely possible.

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