Another 18 hour train journey...

Trip Start Oct 04, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Friday, October 8, 2004

Ive never been a massive fan of sleeping on trains, its unnatural and usually results in waking up with a sore neck. Of the times i have fallen asleep on the train coming home from work after a night out, i'm usually woken up by a conductor at the end of the line and then faced the prospect of walking home! So trying to sleep overnight on an Amtrak train will be interesting to say the least!

Luckily for me, even in Amtrak's cheapest seats, you have reclining chairs with leg rests, so it made it a bit more bearable! Aftre much tossing and turning, and a couple of elbows in Dans face for good measure, we awoke 6 hours later in a place called Klamath Falls. It was quite a shock to see the scenery change so much in so little time. Now we were faced with Mountains, Lakes and trees - hundreds of them. In a matter of another 4 hours the scenery had changed again, the land was so diverse. Now instead of the Mountains and trees, the land had changed to dry baron ground. Think of the movie Twister for a better picture.

IN my last entry i said about the friendliness of Americans, this was even more so the trains. The viewing carriage being an ideal opportunity for lone old people to make friends (before anyone complains i say 'old' because we were the only 2 of our generation on the train!) Seeing as we spent most of our time in this viewing carriage, you can imagine we were targeted quite a few times!

Examples of stories we were told by people we met were:

*65 year old Canadian, who travelled to LA to care for her sick mother in law, doing it to get in her husbands good books, but wont fly because of 9/11!

*40+ women who was dressed up as a 21 year old, she had just spent 3 months in LA on vacation, her son had won a scholarship for uni as he plays the guitar?! Daughter works for macdonalds as a 'supervisor' - she was so proud! Luckily she got off after an hour!

*40+ couple visiting there 18yr old daughter at uni for the first time - not overly unusual but she looked about 25 and looked like a tv weather girl, while he was short fat and balding!?

People just wanted to tell us there whole life story! There were a lot more but i wont bore you with the details! All said and done, it did make the trip to Portland go a little quicker!

I, as most of you, had never heard of Portland. I had been emailing a guy called Sean for advice on travelling for a couple of months. He runs a travel website with another bloke called Chris in Portland, and was persuaded by him to stop over. He promised a weekend we would never forget - how could we turn down an offer like that! So you can forgive our doubtful thoughts when we turned up at Portland stain. It was pissing it down, and what we could make out of it, it resembled a lot like Crewe/Runcorn/Nuneaton or in other words very industrial, not what you want to be faced with after travelling through some of the most spectactuler scenery you had ever seen. But we threw caution to the wind and made our way to the bus station.

In a ideal world we would have had directions to Sean and Chris's house, but true to form i had deleted the email with them on back in San Fran and all i could remember was that we had to get the no.8 bus and get off at starbucks which has Blockbusters next to it? We thought we would just jump on a bus anyway - there cant be too many starbucks in Portland?

As we waited for the bus we were approached by 2 massive black guys. Now to say we were a little nervous was putting it lightly, especially after being asked "do you want some green brother?" (roughly translated into queens English as "would you 2 young chaps fancy purchasing some marijuana from our goodselves?") After politely declining - in broken street talk we picked up in San Fran, the weirdest thing happened, they realised that we were English and begged us to teach them to talk like a cockney?! So for the next 15mins we sat by the bus stop teaching our new friends cockney rhyming slang. Sadly the bus turned up which cut our invaluable lesson short, but i think they learned a bit - they were saying 'geezer' and 'mate' a lot more anyway!

After a lot of confusion on the buses, it looked like we were going the wrong way, we somehow found the starbucks with the blockbusters in question. Now was the small matter of finding the actual house. Cutting a long story short we found a library that was just open, and using my British charm, persuaded her to look on her internet to find the address, not only did she succeed in finding it, another Libraian took pity on us and drove us there - now thats American hospitality i like! Typically the house was literally only 30 seconds down the road but it was the thought that counts!

We pulled up outside their house/office and was greeted by Chris with Beers at the door! Boots'n'all was started about 5 years ago from a conversation that started in an English pub, now its a very successful travel website that employs Sean and Chris but also another 3 staff at their home and another in Bali. Their website does everything from telling you advice on travelling to booking hostels and also has free city guides. Worth a look if you go away anywhere on holiday.

Sods law Sean wasn't there, he and Donovan, one of their staff, were at a travel convention in San Fran, so we just missed them. Instead Chris played the impeccable host! Although expecting a quiet night in Chris had different idea's. It was our first Friday night in the states after all. We were off to a first birthday party for a hairdressers in town that Chris had designed a website for. We weren't expecting much but we put the glad rags on anyway, hairdressers usually means women!

We were more than pleasantly surprised when we arrived to find that this hairdressers was 'the' place to get your hair done in Portland. Think of Staffords in Southend, but then add free massages, live sport, internet access and 2 free beers on tap. We could see why this place was so popular! We were more than happy to play the token English guys, especially as all the hairdressers were stunning women! We drank copious amounts of free beer, we were given unlimited hair products and shampoo and they even had a mini golf game set up so someone could win a golf bag?! I'm sure the guy that won it had it on Ebay the next morning... i would have!

We all left about 11pm after a few too many 'blondes' (name of the beer) and with every pocket stuffed full with travel size shampoo and wax. We followed the crowd and ended up in a bar/club called Aura. ( This was the first time i noticed the strict non smoking policy here in the US. It looks like its not only NY city that enforce the law. Most of you know how much i hate smoking so i took great pleasure watching people huddle under one outdoor heater trying to get there fix! Although i'm sure Dan disappeared there a couple of times throughout the night!

The club itself was fine and the ladies were lovely! but America seem to have an unhealthy obsession with R&B and Hip Hop music, and play it every where. Luckily we were so drunk by then we didn't seem to notice, but it is always funny watching Dan trying to dance to this music!

For our first taste of Portland we were very impressed. But it was now 2:30 in the morning and for some stupid reason we had decided to go walking in the mountains in the morning, so off to home we went!
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