John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey
the_gneech

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CA Trip 2005 Report -- #3 of 6

TUESDAY
Well, before I say anything else, I want to make a brief statement: Powell's Books is indeed very cool, getting high marks for not only its hugeness but also its labyrinthine layout and general woolly-headed bibliophilic nature. However, when it came to perform, they failed me; but a little hole-in-the-wall shop some ten blocks away, by the unassuming name of Cameron's Used Books, stepped up to the plate and knocked the ball right outa the park.

By which I mean to say, Cameron's had a copy of My Man Godfrey, while Powell's did not. And what's more, this tender volume, printed in 1947 and more than a little on the hard-to-find side, cost me all of $2. (My Man Godfrey is not a rare book in and of itself ... after its initial publication in 1935 it was in print until some time in the '60s. But the first printing, in good shape, can set you back a few hundred bucks, so I was happy to find a later printing in a condition that was still readable.)

Anyway, now that's out of the way, let me get on with the day's report. We started with breakfast at a place very cleverly named "Edible Complex." (The menu, alas, was not so clever, being standard 'harried downtown drone' fare, but it did the job.) We then walked to the aforementioned Powell's and spent quite some time exploring the labyrinth and picking up some books that we'd wanted but didn't want to pay retail price for.

(We passed by Ye Olde Drugge Pusher again, although it was sombody else this time. Apparently, last night's dude was just one staff member of a 24/7 drug deal in which the only thing that changes is the participants. Mind you, I don't know for sure that they were drug deals ... given the furtive nature and the way they were shuffling small items back and forth, they could have been fencing stolen diamonds for instance. Actually, that wouldn't annoy me half as much, but I have some peculiar ideas about the law. And once again, I digress.)

Our next scheduled stop was the Oregon Zoo, by way of Max Light Rail, but we wavered on this point for some time because it had started doing a respectable (if not heavy) bit of raining. We lurked in a Borders for a while, hoping it would let up, but when it didn't I finally broke down and bought an umbrella, and off we went. (I'm glad that's how it ended up. We had discussed the possibility of spending the day at the hotel and hoping for better weather tomorrow, but that would have left me disappointed.)

The zoo was pretty decent; being able to go to the National Zoo on a moment's notice my whole life has spoiled me a bit on zoos, but the Oregon Zoo has nothing to be ashamed of! After all, it had polar bears, amur leopards, and siberian tigers. I was impressed by how many people came out and stayed out, rain or no rain. I imagine living in the Pacific Northwest makes you pretty blasé about rain after a while, but being a mid-Atlantic seaboard boy myself, I tend to find myself mostly alone when I go out in the rain. (We don't get that much rain in D.C. -- it just tends to always LOOK like it's going to rain, without actually doing it.) The Oregon Zoo also had a very nice and quite reasonably-priced restaurant, where we had a latish lunch.

Once we were done with the zoo, we hopped back on the trolley and rode to Old Town/Chinatown, where we went to the Traditional Chinese Gardens. This wonderfully placid, authentically-built garden nestled right in the heart of the city was very beautiful, and again quite well-attended in spite of the rain and the Tuesday afternoonishness of it all. The rain didn't detract from the tranquil beauty of the place -- if anything, it enhanced it, by creating a constant, soft white noise of rain splashing into the pond, and causing all the colors to be saturated and all the more vibrant. Once we were all harmonied out, we popped by the gift shop to grab some souvenirs for friends and family, then hoofed it back to the hotel, quite pooped from our day's trampings.

Dinner took quite a lot of mental wrangling; we couldn't find a hibachi steak house within reasonable accessibility, which had been our first thought, because apparently Thai Thai Thai is the thing in Portland. Unfortunatly, neither Laurie nor myself are particularly big on Thai food, which has been something of a hindrance during our entire Portland campaign. We eventually decided to try Huber's, which has the distinction of being Portland's oldest restaurant (est. 1897). We made short work of a shrimp scampi (on her part) and turkey pot pie (on my part), and scoped out a place around the corner called "Mother's Bistro and Bar" as our prime suspect for breakfast in the morning. It was during this scoping that I happened to spy Cameron's and had the whim to go in and check it out as detailed above. My Man Godfrey was not on the shelves, but as there were copies of "Look" magazine and at last one copy of a tawdry romance authored by none less than Olivia de Havilland(!) I felt that surely fate must have drawn me to the place. On the off chance, I asked the guy behind the counter, "Do you have a copy of My Man Godfrey by Eric Hatch?" to which he replied, "I might. Give me a minute to look." He went into the back, and then I heard the bang-bang-banging of feet on rickety stairs up to an attic ... and within three minutes I had the desired object and I practically skipped back to the hotel.

Laurie and I were more or less agreed that we'd "done Portland" at this stage, so we called Kerry and asked her to do some quick research on a new hotel back in the San* area. The Radisson, while decent, was disappointing in the breakfast department after all, and might still be infested by sports teams. We finally settled on the Marriott Courtyard Fremont, called them up, and got a very satisfactory rate. So tomorrow we make the looooong drive back down Rt. 5 et al., a fairly straightforward and not-all-that-scenic route meant for heavy-duty travelers (so I gather, anyway) rather than touristas. But, we've got Sirius Satellite Radio and an audio edition of Jeeves In the Morning to keep us entertained. Assuming our spines can take the strain, we should be fine, and having dinner with Kerry and Mako again tomorrow.

-The Gneech
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