I left the hotel to HWY-101 with the shield of fog still present. i decided before I left that I would head to Eugene, OR to check out one of the American Apparel's. It's a simple enough drive and it is actually on the way. I follow my mapquest-given directions and, of course, it tries to send me down a one-way street. I park a few blocks away and assemble my bicycle; that has been in my back seat for about a day now. I was so ecstatic that there was a trail of bike lanes everywhere. The AA is in the epicenter of university district. While the summer-school crowd is very small, I can only imagine what this town is like in full-fall-bloom.
After assessing the store and buying a striped hoodie i get back on the 5. Driving through Portland I felt disappointed for not stopping in Hawthorne or Downtown to say, "hello." to some old friends. There is a piece of my heart still in the city. Grace, I later find out has been in the mountains for a few days, has her phone go straight to answer machine. Matthew Gilbert, as always, is impossible to get a hold of. I heard he moved up there for recording or living or something or another; phone goes straight to an automated," The number you are trying to reach is not in service or has been disconnected." Great. Oh Matthew, why must you persist on being immobile. By the time I tried to call Frank my phone lost signal. Next time guys.
After passing a few quaint beach towns and tourist charm spots I arrive in Astoria, OR. A town on the very edge of Oregon beauty. A small (Columbia) river separates the town from the Washington border. I feverishly dial Michelle and she was waiting outside. Michelle offered to take me in last spring when I almost didn't have a place to stay in Portland, luckily Frank pulled through then. A bright, smart, independent, cultured, and strong woman showed me around her home and later the town. She said I looked hungry-major understatement- so she cooked up some crazy seafood dishes. White Salmon, found only in a few remote parts of the coast, caught only the day before by her fisherman friend was unbelievable. Michelle talked to me a lot about her kids, and how they are slowly doing their own thing in life. it's expected and she knows that; it's just a little hard to get used to after being a mother for so many years. Daman, another vacationing friend of hers was also staying in the house for a bit. Another important character in this little adventure of mine. Always walking around with a smile on my face and always wanting to show me new card games. He works with disabled children in his hometown, (Albany,OR) so he knows and is taught a lot of activities to keep the kids entertained.
After a few days of just lounging around on Michelle's sofa, staring at the view of the Columbia, reading the subterraneans, daydreaming of adventures to come, watching the clouds roll in and out over the valley, and listening to world eclectic music; it was time for me to hit the road. I was feeling a bit restless and wanted to get back on the highway; strangely. After Daman and Michelle got back 'clam digging' we made french toast and had breakfast together; not our last meal together we assured ourselves. Companion, Michelle taught me, means to break bread together. It was apropriate that our last meal together held true to the definition.The world is too small and time is too short for us not to meet again. Egypt, we joked, was where we will meet again.
We toasted to new friendships and to safe travels.
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