We are here!

We have finally arrived. I know, I know….we’ve been in Portland a month but these things take time. Ginger and I have had to walk the fine line between sanity and job hunting. We would give ourselves permission to take the weekends off from job hunting (even though both of us would keep one eye on our computers/job notifications). There was a switch in my head that would flip occasionally during the week and I would tell G “We’re done for today(or this week)”…let’s go…pick your destination…it’s time to decompress.

A few weeks ago at one of those moments, a friend of a friend posted on her Facebook page that she was firing up her camera again and offering photo shoots. It just so happened I was in that decompressed state and was thinking clearly to myself “what a great way to meet this person and her family…and also commemorating our arrival in Portland”. So I jumped in and told her to pick a very Portland spot for G and I to get our picture taken for our memories.

First of all a friend from Dallas (Regina) introduced us over Facebook. Ginger and I think Regina is the bee’s knees, so we knew that her friend Kate had to be equally cool. Kate, her husband Ryan, and their daughter Lucy are the coolest little family we’ve met in a long time. We are thrilled to have finally been able to meet them and we look forward to getting to know them better. Kate’s work can be found at: kateblackmorephotography.tumblr.com

Thanks for the pictures Kate! We’re very happy with how they turned out…exactly what we wanted.

And here we are in bridgetown (one of the numerous nicknames for Portland)…

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Kate was very straightforward and told me my head was “sparkling” and we had to move…so I put on my hat. Ha! Now I see it…

 

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Early morning fools.

For weeks G and I have been training daily for a grueling hike to one of the world famous parks in the Portland area. We understood the dangers going in and believe me, they were not taken seriously…a mistake would we not soon forget. Neither of us knew exactly what to expect given the odd weather patterns, elevation changes, wildlife, and the possibility of navigation challenges.

It began a little later than we had expected, 6am to be exact. We geared up at home with everything needed to navigate our route. We were trying to travel lightly but we had to ensure that we had the proper provisions for our journey. After a short 20 minute commute to the trailhead, we left our vehicle and all sense of security behind. As we both walked away from the vehicle we looked back in hopes we would see it again…that sense of security…our only piece…now gone. There was no turning back, we were both in this together. We recounted our training and the survival skills necessary for this trek. Since I’m a carnivore, I knew that the hunting would be left to me if we needed meat. I would rely on Ginger to provide us with safe plants and berries because plant identification was her specialty.

Over the past several weeks we discussed this moment. What happens now? What if we get lost? What dangers are we not accounting for? We kissed each other…hugged….joined hands and remembered this day 8 years ago in a gondola on the Las Colinas canals (when I proposed)…when Ginger agreed to accompany me on this adventure. It’s not every day we can take on such a grueling test of our resolve. Our footing was firm for the first tenth of a mile. The weather was a little rainy which made seeing our path in the dark a little tricky. We soon came up on our first real challenge…a very steep drop off. However, there was hope…a bright shiny button that said “push to activate crosswalk”. We pushed the button looked across the street for the bicolor light to change from an amber/orange hand to a bright white illuminated walking person. A beep counted down until that glorious moment…the accessibility voice proclaimed “THE CROSSWALK IS NOW ACTIVE”….We arrived! Our destination “Mill Ends” Park in Portland, Oregon. The smallest Park in the world.

The promise land.

The promise land.

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Ginger was first to conquer Mill Ends Park.

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Our trusty “Mag Light” assisted us in our navigation of the terrain.

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Here’s a close up of the park. Officially became a park on St. Patrick’s Day 1976.(Seriously)

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After such a huge undertaking Voodoo Donuts had to be visited to refuel.

April fools!

This is an actual park in Portland, Oregon. It’s a cute story about how it became a park…so if you want to know more visit:

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/finder/index.cfm?action=ViewPark&ShowResults=yes&PropertyID=265

Ah finally…Rain!

Something you will probably never hear a Portlander say “thank god it’s raining”. At least that’s what everyone says. This week has finally given us exactly what everyone has been telling us is the standard weather. It’s been raining, but not like we are used to in Texas…it’s very odd. We are trying to figure it out or at least be able to pick up on the weather patterns but there appears to be none. The rain comes in…then the sun comes…maybe for 5 minutes…maybe for 5 hours…then rain…then sun…then rain. We’ve had a few days of all day rain, but it’s definitely not like Texas in the spring. It’s sprinkling or drizzling mostly. The weather is very confusing, but right now we’re just trying to take walks or sit on our decks to immerse ourselves in it.

G and I went to a local plant nursery earlier this week to get some color on our decks (and for me to re-ignite my old bonsai hobby). I had so many questions for the people there and they were super nice (as we’ve become accustomed to – happily). We’ve only ever really grown plants in Texas (about grow zone 8), so we had no idea the zone here (about 5) and what could be safely planted or when. Well naturally it stays cooler …longer here, so it should have come as no surprise when the person answered us with “well you’ll need to be careful because we still get frost up to mother’s day”. You can imagine my laugh it kinda went something like this:

“….frost up to mother’s day”

Ears receive message…hamster in head starts the wheel…my brain comprehends followed quickly by involuntary eye bulge, grinning, shuffling feet, and hands on opposite elbows. Right after the assistant notices my body language out comes an enormous “Muttley” laugh. If you don’t know who Muttley is…I feel sorry for your childhood.

Frost up to May? What?

We’ve been fortunate thus far with the rain and the weather as the nursery workers told us, we know this. Portland opened its arms and welcomed us with great weather for the first few weeks (which we were promised returns for summer…again cue Muttley). During the rain we’ve received this week we’ve gone out for walks a few times and looked up and said thank you.

The rain was baptizing us as Portlanders. Finally mother nature realized that she didn’t need to be on her best behavior because maybe we were on vacation. She finally realized that it’s okay to be herself, we are here in the “Emerald City” – “Stumptown” – “PDX” – “The Rose City” – “P-Town” – “Beervana”…home.

 

Taking advantage of the beautiful weather…

Another week and another reason to act like we deserve a three day weekend. Routines not yet fully established we find ourselves bumping in to each other a little more than normal. My morning coffee run (to the kitchen) coincides with Ginger’s morning tea jog. I juke left…she jukes right, so at this point we might as well start a west coast swing. There was this undercurrent of tension last week, so on Thursday I told her “We’re going out tomorrow”. I had come across a USA Today article that listed the top ten sights to see in the US…and oddly enough two of them were within an hour of us. Win!

Friday there was to be no applying for jobs…no stressing over resume edits. Just get out clear our heads and reset. The thing most people don’t tell you about looking for a job is that it’s work….and it’s hard work. I took a class about 10 years ago on looking for a job…and one of the very first things the instructor said was “If you had an 8 hour day at work…don’t spend more than 8 hours looking for a job”. Really it makes sense because you do get tired tailoring, finding jobs, and writing letters all day. The quality of your work cannot be top notch all day….it just can’t. I don’t care who you are, you’re going to get tired and your work is going to reflect it. The last thing Ginger and I need is to start sending out resumes with amateur mistakes.

So I got up bright eyed and bushy tailed…started looking for that article with the 2 places in Oregon to visit and plan our route. Well turns out one of them was a little further than an hour so we decided to visit the closer attraction. Wouldn’t you know it – it was back near the waterfalls that sealed the deal for us last fall. Well upon further review…it appears the “Oneonta Gorge” is a little more difficult to see than just pull up, park, walk, snap pictures, and leave. In fact seeing the gorge itself would have required us to get a little wet…well more than a little….up to our chest probably. Given the water temp is probably still a little on the side I’d like to call “freaking cold”, we decided to pass.

The possibilities were endless but we decided to head back out to the falls anyway to do some more exploring. I also had the harebrained idea that we would make it to the top of Multnomah falls. We packed accordingly, this time lighter weight clothing, better shoes, and above all better snacks (food again..ugh). We arrived at the falls and were greeted 20140321_103007by a pile of snow…which I really didn’t care about but it certainly did make us both giggle a little like kids. Anyway we marched towards the falls, snapped a few pictures and I said “lets GO”. The excitement was building…we’re gonna do this…we’re going to make the 700 foot, 17 switchback, 1/2 mile trek to the top. As we neared the bridge that connects to the trail I notice a fence on one side that looks like it’s blocking the bridge. I think to myself “well maybe that’s just one side they’re blocking temporarily” (inside my stomach dropped because I knew before I even saw my side…that we were not going to get the chance to climb today). Sure enough as we rounded the final turn to head to the bridge I could see it was closed. As we got closer It became obvious why it was closed. It looked like a boulder smashed the crap out of part of the bridge. It was such a clean punch it bridgeeditedlooked like someone took an enormous bite out of the concrete. Even with the beautiful 627 foot waterfall a few feet away from me, I was amazed at the bridge damage…I found myself wondering about the sound it made when it happened and certainly hoped nobody was injured (which we found out later that no one was luckily).

Well now what? We searched for another way to the trail and there was one in fact, but it would have been far beyond our skill level. So we decided to just go for a nice hike around the area. There are some gorgeous hiking trails in the gorge area. Something like 150 miles worth. We explored some of the other 43(we heard) named waterfalls in the area and had a blast. We did make it to the top of one of them…but I assure you by the end of the day we felt every part of the climb.

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There are no words for the scenery we experienced last Friday. Pictures cannot do it justice. I can spend all night describing the clean crisp air, the sponge like terrain, the unforgiving rock paths, the bark grooves big enough to fit a “SMART” car sideways on the enormous trees, and the beautiful song the crashing water makes plunging from enormous heights…but what good what that do? You have to visit us….we’ll make time to show you. Be prepared to move here though…we did.

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Nothing Routine about us.

Everyone gets the occasional disruption in their life. Sometimes you wake up late and have to cut your shower short…or maybe you don’t get to eat the high fiber cereal your doctor warned you about and end up grabbing a sausage biscuit from “Whataburger”oh how I miss thee(don’t judge me…actually do…I don’t care). Their sausage, egg and cheese breakfast biscuits were killer. Hey look something else I’ll miss about Texas and of course it’s food. Anyway, you know that frantic feeling of missing your time marks? Come on…everyone has them….”Ok if I’m done eating breakfast at this time, I’m good…if I’m out of the shower at this time…I’m on task”.  Well we haven’t had any marks to shoot for…or anything to be late for…so it’s made it difficult to be disciplined about getting up and on with the day. Not good for Phill…the dog in this relationship. Especially since this dog has had the same routine for so long.

Even with a new job it only took a slight tweak to adjust the routine. Maybe I woke up five minutes earlier…maybe I take a different route. Either way, I had a routine I was proud of, a routine that would make the most organized lifehacker jealous. I had trimmed every last millisecond off my morning. I’d move my french press 2.75 inches to the left which would make it quicker for me to access the grinder….I’d swish the water around the bottom, throw the grounds in the backyard, wash the press and the fittings…and by the time I was done with drying it and putting the aromatic freshly ground coffee in the bottom the water was almost at boil and ready for me to poor. I mean I was THE morning ninja. Before Ginger even made it to the kitchen I would have my cereal bowl in hand with hot coffee and walking to my morning “technology catch up” reading station.

Now….well now I’m a morning sumo. “i’M AWakE nOw….get the FriG OUtta….my way….i’m MAkinG COFFEE”. I roar into the kitchen head down wondering if today’s the day I go back to Jail(kidding)…I’m never going back…(kidding again)…I’ll be back someday. That’s just my coffee routine…oh god can you imagine if I had a job right now? I’d be up at the crack of 2:30 so that I could make it to work on time.

It’s not what I’m used to but I’m finally getting a small routine in line and I hope it will get refined back to its glory someday. Today, I had a few interviews with recruiters that went very well and received many reassurances I won’t be on the market long. I tend to load myself with extra pressure when I hear that, because I think…”what if I let that person down?”. I know I can do the jobs…I know I can be an extremely valuable asset to any team, but I just need the dog and pony show to display my plumage. I got issues man…no doubt.

I have found solace in some more comfortable things. For instance Ginger and I watched our normal Sunday evening lineup earlier this week – My desk is a little more organized so the morning routine cereal/coffee/read is somewhat reset. I’ve also found that Beaverton Bakery makes these things called “Butter Crisps” and they are marvelous…and I can always count on Ginger to catch me off guard. (She agrees with my Butter Crisps opinion).

They're no more...let it go!

 

 

Choose wisely…choose Oregon

Well another day in Oregon brings another climate on our excursion to Bend today. When we left Texas we gave a lot of our furniture away, because it was probably going to be too large for our apartment. Plus most of it went to a very deserving family. We had intended on using a card table as our dining table until we found the right table for the space. Last night Ginger found an interesting 1940’s table and chairs on craigslist that would seat four. It was the right price and the wrong distance. Of course Bend is about 3.5 hours from Tigard…but what a 3.5 hour drive it is.

We tracked back through the exact same route we entered Oregon, only this time Ginger was in the car with me and it was a beautiful sunny day. It started at 8 am with every intention of making it to the pickup point by noon. The scenery was significantly different in the morning sun. The clouds that were hanging out by the Willamette National Forest and surrounding mount_editedmountains were being shredded as the slight breeze dragged them over the mountain tops. Once again every turn provided a new view and a new surprise. I had commented earlier to Ginger that I was surprised I had not seen the snow that greeted us when we arrived. Too soon Phill….too soon. It was there I just had not reached the elevation yet…currently it’s at about 3000 feet. I also realized something else….all along the road there are signs warning of “chain up” turn offs. So during the winter these mountain passes obviously get a little dicey and they provide areas to pull off the road and put your snow chains on your vehicle. Something I haven’t heard of since 1978. Believe me, you would not want to get caught on these mountains without them in the winter. Something that WAS new to me were these bright orange poles about every 25 feet. I don’t recall ever seeing those before and at first glance I didn’t quite understand their purpose. These orange PVC poles are probably 15 feet tall and have silver reflector tape wrapped around them about every 3 feet. Then it hit me…those are markers for the roads. So when the snow plows come through and throw the snow off to the side, you can still see the edge of the road. The fact they were so high was both exciting and scary. I can’t wait until next winter!

The table pick up was just outside of Bend. The people we purchased it from were extremely friendly and accommodating (always a crapshoot buying off craigslist). We spoke with the husband about our travels and wouldn’t you know it…they did the exact same thing we are doing…only five years ago. He told us about how they lived in Arizona, then moved to Hawaii…but were tired of the traffic and the cost of living over there. They knew they wanted to be in either Washington or Oregon…and decided on the tiny suburb outside Bend. We shared similar stories and laughs before loading the table in the van. He mentioned to us that we were in the high desert and it’s like no other desert you have ever seen. This was the greenest desert climate I’d ever seen. When you really look at it though, you could actually tell it was drier and the terrain is certainly more hostile. That absolutely has not kept anyone from building in and around the area. They’ve done a marvelous job of development while keeping the sprawl to a minimum as well as not interrupting the natural beauty. The last bit of our conversation was of the utmost importance…”Where’s the BEST place to eat in Bend?”. We had hoped to make it back to a town named “Sisters” but it was too far off for our sugar levels to maintain sanity. He told us (without hesitation) “Jackson’s Corner”. Spot on! The place was very well laid out and had a very interesting mix of food, as well as their own brewed “Kombucha” on tap. NOPE. Get bent Bend….I’m not drinking it. They almost tricked me too the little bastards. I saw “Pomegranate Lemonade” on their menu…but did not notice it was under the “In house brewed Kombucha” subheading. Nice try…but I won’t fall for your frou frou trickery…save that for the hipsters who are tired of smoking their cloves. As soon as they realize the hell they unleashed on their innards, they’ll be back to smoking a pack and a half a day to get rid of the ill effects you’ve caused them. The food was phenomenal though and I would go back whenever we pass through Bend again.

We made another brief pit stop in Sisters for some homemade ice cream. And yet again (contrary to several friends and co-workers) I was complimented on my beard. So NYAH!

The drive back was gorgeous albeit the gas mileage was not as good as on the way up. You know because of the extra weight we were carrying. No, not the table and chairs….the food and our seemingly unreasonable lack of self control. I’m fairly certain we are stress eating….I know we are.

Ginger was snapping pictures left and right trying to get pictures of the gorgeous water and the snow covered mountain tops. We stopped at Clear Lake, because my mother-in-law highly recommended it. A beautiful lake with crystal clear water. We tried to get a row boat but all of them were on the lake at the time and given it was already close to four pm…we 20140315_150137decided it would be best to just get home. We will be back to Clear Lake for sure though…it was another gorgeous area.

When we got home, we carried our new table up to the apartment, placed it in the dining room and smiled. We had our first meal at it already. We quickly got up from the table looked back at it while we laced up our shoes to go try to work off the seven hour drive/one million calorie day.

We walked around our neighborhood park and enjoyed what’s in our backyard. We still had to stop every 20 yards to take in the beauty. The flocks of geese grunting while they eat the grass, the wide variety of ducks (now I understand Oregon Ducks), and the nutria. Yes, even the nutria have a right to life. We are very lucky with our choices…and we recognize it. We are extremely thankful.

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The Natives WERE restless!

Make no bones about it…we needed a break from unpacking, sorting, storing, and shoving. The bathrooms are proving to be a bit of a challenge because we had quite a bit of storage in the house, the kitchen was a piece of cake. It’s very easy to purchase that coffee mug that says “this isn’t the coffee you’re looking for” you thought was so cool in the geek store, but when it comes to deciding if you HAVE to have it in your now shrunken cupboards…well that’s a little more involved. This didn’t actually happen to either of us but it might as well have. We find ourselves trying to figure out what to put in to everyday use and what to put into storage never to be seen again. On paper it’s very easy to say I don’t need to have 17 coffee mugs at my disposal, but they become part of a routine. C’mon all of you have this issue, it’s not just me(it can’t be…oh god…please don’t let it be just me). While it’s not really 17 mugs it is one for each day of the week and probably a few extra. “Well this one I always use on a weekend day, and this one I use on the other weekend day”. Once I narrowed it down I was able to comfortably say I just need a few mugs to be safe with my adjusted daily routine.

Now Realize this…you just read 8 sentences on coffee mug natural selection. Imagine going through that process for every little thing you own. It makes for a long unpacking process no matter where you move. Quantify that by shrinking your living and storage space by more than 35 percent, and you now have a very annoying task that gets old…quick.

Over the past few days both of us have occasionally thrown our resume at a few jobs not focussing terribly on the positions but just trying to get our names out there. It has helped break up the monotony but it wasn’t the best idea, and I can honestly say I should have listened to Ginger on this. Last week when I introduced myself to the strangers in the coffee shop, I opened a can of worms. It’s good that I’m getting leads but it’s also tough to try to focus on unpacking while I’m tailoring my resume.

We are now in day four of the game show “Whip Phillip’s Ass”, so today we decided to take the day off. We had to…we were both getting grumpy and today was supposed to be beautiful weather. Being told over and over that the ocean is only an hour away, today was the day to prove that. Tide pools were the goal of today, but unfortunately we timed the tide incorrectly. What we did find was a great small town on the Oregon coast called Oceanside.

Our drive took us through the Tillamook State Forest area.tillamook state forest

We stopped in Tillamook (secretly I wanted an excuse to say I’d been there) to let the gas station fill our tank(since in Oregon you’re not allowed to pump your own gas). I struck up a conversation with the attendant and told her our goal of the day. After explaining we weren’t from “around here” and the subsequent follow up of “why did you move to Oregon?” discussion that we’ve become used to, she told me that we were just a few miles from the coast. She pointed to a road and said that road will dead end, and when you get to it get out and walk to the beach, go through a cave to the other side of the mountain where you will be on another beach where you will find the tide pools you’re looking for. WHAT? I thought “is this woman serious?”. How is it that simple and what planet are we on? Caves? Nobody said anything about caves. I started getting excited to see if it was really that simple and to see this cave. We hopped in the car and I explained to Ginger…”we just go that direction until it ends”. She gave me the same look I imagined I gave to the woman at the pump. We smiled and said “I’m in”, pretty much at the same time.

Tillamook is a cute town that probably hasn’t changed, ever. As we drove through, the elevations started to differ a little more and the foliage started taking a different appearance from the lush enormous douglas-firs of the state forest that surrounded the rushing river banks covered in ferns and mossy rock. It was opening up. As we passed the town of “Netarts” we started getting glimpses of the ocean. We followed the road slowly to make sure we were not turning off…and then I heard it…Ginger’s “oh my god we’re at the ocean” squeal (she loves the ocean). And so it was. Beautiful huge crashing waves on larger than life rocks jutting out of the water. You know what? The road did actually dead end in Oceanside, Oregon. It was as if we reached the end of the rainbow.

I stupidly stumbled out of the car, giddy with excitement. We made our way to the beach…and damn if there wasn’t an opening to the side of the mountain about a third of a mile down the beach. As we approached the opening I noticed the water getting a little close so I moved to higher ground; However, my companion decided she’d ignore the why I was moving up shore and focus more on the “holy crap I’m gonna get wet” scream she let out shortly before her Columbia size six’s and socks got soaked. Ha! Yes we went through the cave and out the other side of the mountain. We were too late for the tide pools but we stood in the mouth of the cave and listened to enormous boulders bang against each other as the waves receded back. It was such a marvelous sound I’d never heard before. 20140312_105607

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After exploring the surrounding area we made our way to the center of the town (walking all of about 300 feet) and had lunch at a cute little joint with a beautiful view of the beach, rocks, and our footprints to the cave. I held my chin up, puffed out my chest…and thought to myself “I’ve been there”. I find myself reflecting more on the experiences Oregon has to offer to its residents…and how appreciative I am to be able to partake. There’s also a very warm and friendly feeling of welcome from not only the environment but the people. Nobody is ever too busy to talk with you, nobody is ever annoyed or interrupted by you. I think we’ll stay.

ReAliTy bItES

Fantastic news! The movers delivered us this past Friday rather than next Tuesday! I firmly believe that they adjusted their schedule for us because we treated them right. Our driver was a Texan…and there’s no question about that. The same group of four who packed…also delivered that was a plus because they knew we’d probably 1. feed them and 2. tip them. We are extremely happy with the job they did (from loading the truck, driving it 2k miles, to unloading). We did pack ourselves so we were a little concerned about things possibly breaking…but as our driver said “if it doesn’t shift in transit it won’t break”. So far we are solid. Nothing broken in transit….but here’s a couple reality bites: I will tell you if you ever decide to undertake what we have, make damn sure you have bathroom cleaner available because truckers/support staff do NOT have the best diets. I won’t go in to detail for obvious reasons but just know they can wreck an “american standard” in five seconds flat. The other is a little disappointing but hopefully avoidable for you…be sure if you pack yourself to seal up your boxes. We shrinkwrapped a few items that were simply too big for boxes and unfortunately they smelled of cigarette smoke when they arrived. (They smoke in the side or in the trailer when loading/unloading). I was actually very surprised that it happened…but it did. Our Sleep Number bed foam soaked up a little of the smoke but I was able to clear it out by airing it out on the porch and a little soap and water. All in all…still happy with the job they did. Some very fragile stuff made it without a problem. Obviously we haven’t unpacked everything just yet…so who knows I may be changing my opinion in a couple weeks. But then again we packed ourselves, so it will have to be determined if it was the packing job or the transit that caused the issue.

Reality is beginning to settle in at a tremendous rate. I’m actually finding it hard to keep up with all the changes…and lack of routine. Thursday the cable company came out to install our cable & internet, we got our licenses (their DMV is very efficient) and afterwards Ginger and I decided to get a cup of coffee at a local shop next door to the DMV. I overheard a couple guys talking technology so when we were finished I went over and introduced myself to them and apologized for barging in on their conversation. As it turns out one of them is a tech recruiter so we struck up a brief discussion and by the end of the day I was sending them my resume. Shortly after that I received a call from him, had a short discussion about what I’m looking for and he complimented my personality and told me that I was very well spoken and awesome presentation. So he thought there will be no issue finding me a position. Great news…but also another reminder we’re not here for vacation…this is for real this time.

Thursday night, I ventured out to a concert at the Moda center in Portland by myself. I was pleasantly surprised out how friendly everyone was. I had a total of two people compliment my “Pigface” t-shirt(it’s a 20 year old tshirt from a concert in Dallas…and that makes two compliments I’ve ever received for that shirt) and a different two complimented my beard. All of those conversations were quite entertaining and fun…with strangers to boot. The most interesting conversation was with a guy at the train stop on the way home from the concert. I left early because I had just learned that the movers were coming the next day…so these old bones needed rest before running stairs the next day. I was probably one of six people total at the train stop outside the venue. Some random guy asks me if I’d read the drum magazine blog…something or other and I replied “no”. He started to tell me how he wrote an article as well as a letter to them chastising them for not including Martin Atkins. I finally figured out the connection right as he said “Martin Atkins” (my pigface t-shirt). So we had a great conversation about P.I.L., Pigface, and all the numerous projects Martin was involved in..and really hit it off. When I mentioned that I just left the “Tool” show he said “isn’t it still going on?”…I replied “yeah, you want my ticket to go in?”. He shook my hand and told me that they run an industrial hits night (type of music btw)…at this club and I should check it out…and with that he tore off running with my ticket in hand to catch the rest of the show. “I had to say it was a good day”…thanks Cube.

Friday was spent performing inventory and loading rooms with our goods from the truck. It was also spent trying to figure out how to fit ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. We were moving from an 1800 square foot home to a barely over 1100 square foot apartment…so we knew storage was going to be crucial…luckily we have a garage so we knew any overflow could go in there. No problems with that.

Saturday was another day I didn’t quite grasp. We spent the majority of the day setting up our kitchen and trying to figure out why the hell I have a pasta maker. Anyway, the lack of routine…no jobs…and cabin fever was beginning to take its toll on me. I started missing “home”, I started missing friends, missing co-workers, and missing family all over again. I swore I would never live in an apartment again so this is especially tough. However, this is like no other apartment complex I’ve ever been in for sure. I cannot believe how quiet it is around here. It’s deafening…really. I had to put my headphones in just to get some noise. Don’t get me wrong it’s beautiful…geese fly overhead every 45 to 60 minutes honking…birds are chirping beautiful songs, and there’s no obnoxious A/C units buzzing. I mean they don’t exist…so that sound won’t be heard around here even in summer. Rarely a plane. It’s all very foreign to me. You don’t realize how much those simple sounds impact you until you’re eating dinner outside and all you hear is water rushing and nature.

To all my friends back in Texas, I’m finding it extremely difficult to temper my Oregon advocacy because I don’t want to come off as some sort of ungrateful elitist. All of this is extremely hard…the missing you…the missing routines…the familiarity of the the terrain. However, IF you EVER decide to get out of Texas…or want to see a completely 180 degree turnabout from the lone star state….Oregon is it. Thus far, there are NO similarities I can find. It’s exactly what I expected. It’s that reality of sink or swim that scares the crap out of me. Even though we’re treading water waiting to get settled in to look for jobs, it’s a sinking feeling having to rebuild our lives. I sat with Ginger on our deck tonight, and ate a beautifully delicious dinner with a glass of wine and the heat of the grill perfectly cutting the chill of the 54 degree evening. Our deck surrounded by cherry blossom trees about to explode open, we watched the gorgeous sun set behind the serrated tree edged horizon…an enormous blue heron landed on the roof of a building two down from us…quiet enough for us to hear it land. I decided I’d better come back inside before I wake up and it’s not real.

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Never go to Target with a full belly and a lack of sleep.

Everyone always says “don’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach”. Let me assure you, going to a Target store on a full stomach but with severe fatigue is equally dangerous.

I’m not certain Ginger or myself could have handled another eight hour drive day after Monday. This was never more evident after the pressure valve finally blew off Monday night in the Tigard Target. Last Thursday when the movers showed up we were informed that the earliest they could deliver us was March 10th, more than a week longer than we had expected (or planned for). We did not pack accordingly because we thought they were going to be arriving the same day we would. This meant we would not have some of the necessities needed in the apartment. Simple things like pots, mugs/glasses, towels.

As we sat in the “Baja Fresh” eating the well below par food (we expected it but needed something quick), Ginger and I started making a plan for this past Monday evening. We wanted to be in bed soon, so she started making a list of essentials we would need just to get us through the morning. We wobbled out of Baja Fresh with the napkin list in hand and headed to Target.

It started with Ginger’s ghetto ass GPS voice. Keep in mind I had just driven and navigated 2000 miles with the pleasant human google voice. The Target was only three miles away and probably a total of three turns but we were in a foreign place, so we turned on the GPS nav on her phone…..and was I thrown when I heard this abrasive computer generated monotone voice. Most of you know I’m an audiophile…and I’m very particular about sound. If a computer could have an asshole personality…this was the voice. Nevermind…just get us there.

We were walking up to Target and Ginger stopped dead and said “oh I forgot the list….wait no I didn’t”. So it began…we started our stupor giggles. Crap…here we go. In the doors, we walked passed the carts so I said “should we grab a cart?” and G stopped short turned around and started pulling on the new playschool style carts. The stack gave up its bounty and we proceeded down an aisle of which we had no business. We stared past all the aisle labels wondering where we were.

Focus. Ok…let’s get the basics out of the way….Is this a Target? YES!….Is it a Super Target? Well it’s a good one I don’t know if I’d qualify it as Super….no…does is it have groceries?…Yes Ok we’re on a roll now. Let’s start with a single pot. We made our way over to housewares…and they had a Calphalon section. Why would we spend 50 bucks on a pan of which we have 20 coming to us already…and had just purged a few? The next aisle over had the Target “Chefmate” sets. Perfect. We’ll buy a set and donate it when ours arrive. Oohhh they have a set of 18 pieces for 26 dollars….on it…wait ginger points out there’s a set for 17 AND it has a few basic utensils(of which we had none). We looked at each other with huge bugged out eyes and puckerted lips like we had just won the lottery. Score 1.

Next I said “We have some flatware, but do we have two sets at least?” (even though we had a box of plastic ware as well). Ginger said “What do you mean?”…”I mean do we have two knives, two forks, and two spoons?” She looked at me and said ” I didn’t pack forks”. With very SAD puppy dog eyes I responded as kindly as I could: “Why would you do that?”. “You packed spoons and butter knives but no forks….how does that make any sense?”. We both started laughing hysterically…I’m sure the people in Target thought we were drunk. Ginger looked at me and said “focus…we just need to get through the night” (the morning was so far off at this point we didn’t care).

Living in a house for 14 years you take basics for granted…like shower doors. I don’t remember the last time I had to purchase a shower curtain so the concept was a little old to me. “We need a shower curtain” she said. Ok…lets go get a shower curtain. As we stood there in front of the shower curtains, a much longer than needed conversation ensued about what color to purchase. Finally the time limit expired on that discussion so we grabbed a white one and called it good.

I went over to grab paper towels and laundry detergent (because we were going to get funky soon with only four days worth of clothes). “Do we have any tupperware or anything for leftovers?”…”No they’re all packed”…”Okay do we need a piece or two?”…”did you notice in our apartment if we had a microwave?” Same look as above…but different reason. Both stared at each other and said aloud: “Living cannot be this hard can it?”. We didn’t know if we had a microwave in the apartment or not, but we were fairly sure we didn’t. Ok get your shit together and let’s just get home safely without slamming the car into a telephone pole trying to grab a quick 15 minute nap.

Okay…we make our way to the checkout and they have those messed up “stacked” checkouts where you have to push your way through other lines to try to get to the open checkout behind the other(whoever thought that was a good idea should be shot).

Whew, we got checked out and remembered that we can’t use our insurance card for payment and used the correct form….maybe life isn’t so hard.

Walking out to the car I asked Ginger….”Do we have shower curtain rings?”…Again a very sad look fell upon my face as her expression is all I needed to confirm we did not. We were done! No more. I’ll freaking use zip ties if I have to…I’m not going back in there man…don’t make me go back man.

Ginger wanted to celebrate with opening a bottle of wine we carried with us from Texas. Do you think we had a corkscrew?….Hell no. She said we’ll go to the dollar store…..I said “hell no, we just got rid of three of them in Dallas I’m not buying another”.

Well tonight I was not going to deny her wine. So I tried the bottle in the shoe method (don’t bother googling)…and started getting nervous I was going to break the bottle and my wife’s heart at the same time. I stared at the cork for a second or two…wheels turning slowly but they were turning. I thought “we just bought a towel rack but we have to wait until the other shipment arrives because the screws are too long to mount on the cabinet doors…what if I screw one in to the top and use a pair of pliers to pull it out?”  20140305_182024

 

 

 

Victory! Wine! We will live!

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The Oregon trail…not as long as the original.

Monday March 3rd, 2014 began earlier than we thought. The weather in Pendleton Oregon was still a mystery to us, so we decided to get up extra early to make sure we had plenty of time to re-route if needed. We had to be at the apartment before six pm, but the bonus time zone change would give us a little more room for error. The only problem was that now the drive from Boise to Tigard was going to be a few hours longer than that of the original Pendleton to Tigard and we heard the weather was not so kind in the Pendleton area.

We woke up around 4am and prepared for the seven hour drive. Promising the cats this was the last time we would lock them in their plastic jail cells we loaded the car in the freshly washed with cold rain parking lot. By the time we got on the road it was around 6am, still very dark. I got on the two way radio and said “Let’s book it before rush hour hits in Boise”. Of course after driving 37 miles each way to work in Dallas, that statement seemed absurd but the words had already left my mouth. We were both good on gas for a little while, so I wanted to push out a little way before stopping. As soon as we got on the highway I noticed a huge blinking traffic notification sign (thank god), that said the highway we were on was closed westbound from “x”(don’t remember the town) to Pendleton. Fan-freaking-tastic. It seemed that Pendleton was cursed all along. We were warned numerous times of the weather system…and our luck had finally ran out. Time for plan B(even though I think we were up to F by this time).

We had become used to adjusting our travel over the last few days, and had become quite good at it so I wondered how we were going to get through this. The day before I had programmed the Pendleton police department’s phone number in to my phone just in case I needed it. So we stopped for gas and I called their dispatch center and told them the situation I was in and wanted to verify the roads were that bad. The woman who helped me was extremely nice and understanding. She confirmed the road was closed and it would be for a little while because of icy conditions. I graciously thanked her and proceeded to pull out my playbook, thumb to “h” for hail mary…and let her rip. We decided that rather than sit out and wait for the road to open we would go through Bend. Essentially this would add two hours to our trip, but we would still make it on time barring any major road closures or problems. The only problem was, could we make it to the exit before the highway was shut down? In fact the very exit they were forcing everyone off the highway was the one exit we needed. Back on the trail!

“Shit!” I heard Ginger exclaim that the one sign that she wanted a picture of the most….she missed. “Welcome to Oregon”.  A combination of the dark and traffic prevented her from ignoring the most important thing (driving) long enough to take a picture. Both of us are guilty of wanting to document our trip while behind the wheel. But we both knew we didn’t need that picture…it would have been nice, but we were in the home stretch and did not need an accident to ruin the experience.

We were passing through rural Oregon farming towns when I thought to myself “this looks to me like the Oregon trail”. Right then, we passed a sign remarking we were nearing the end of the original Oregon trail. How cool was it that we were in the actual area where most of us “died from dysentery” on that monochrome screen decades ago. Back then it was just a game…but seeing the landscape, it was humbling to think of the real life people that had made it from places like Kansas all the way to Oregon in wagons. In the comfort, speed and protection of our vehicles we definitely felt like cheaters.

We stopped for a brief while to take a few shots of the landscape but we realized we didn’t have too long to spare…so we got back on the road right away. As we wound through the rocky and grass covered mountains, there was no doubt we made the right choice. It’s hard for me to describe the first leg of the journey because it was just so harsh. We’d get to the peak of a mountain and think “okay we’re going to start going down the other side now”…but that wasn’t the case. The mountain would plane off at the top then go on for miles….the wind and rain was violent at that elevation. We struggled to keep the cars centered. This leg of the journey was about 125 miles and brutal to say the least. There was nothing…rarely another car…no utility poles…after I realized that I also realized no cell service. It’s stupid that I was worried about it, after all I had packed quite a few tools for an emergency situation and I’m fairly good at “McGuyver’ing” my way out of situations. But (and this is going to sound dramatic) my life (or another’s) hasn’t depended on my ingenuity before. That stress was a little overwhelming and yet another character of the trip for which I didn’t plan. I also didn’t want to be a burden in case something happened and Ginger had to be the one to save me. Although every ounce of me knows she is fully capable of handling it.  20140303_082618

Where the harsh landscape ends and the Whole Foods begin is Bend, Oregon. Bend is a nice affluent town with beautiful homes and gorgeous scenery. We topped off our tanks, stomachs and prepared for the final push in to Tigard. Just about three hours left in this marathon 33 hour trip.

We went through the Willamette pass mountain range and was it ever glorious! Some of the most beautiful scenery either of us had ever encountered. Snow covered mountains with waterfalls leading to rushing rivers and enormous trees. Ginger and I in awe of the beauty. At times both of us were white knuckling our steering wheels because of the road conditions (again)…but this time we were in populated areas. I got on the radio and told Ginger “do you realize this mountain is only an hour away from our apartment?”. Our excitement to both the proximity realization of natural beauty and the ending journey had us both giddy. Tired and worn the final few miles were typical city highway miles.20140303_122709_edited

This time we recognized some of the landmarks from our trip in the fall. We had come so far to make this work. This time we were not leaving.

 

 

 

Note: this post was longer than I’d hoped and not as comical as planned…which I guess happens. Please stay tuned to the next post for some of the antics that occurred after our arrival. I assure you they were quite entertaining.