Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bend Oregon


We were working our way across Oregon, which has a much more desolate, rugged, and excitingly diverse terrain than I could have imagined.  For a while, I felt like we were still in Wyoming.  It was starting to get dark, and we were tired and hungry and were lucky to be in the vicinity of Bend, which was described in some guide book or other as "a cool desert town".  I was leery of their enthusiasm but too exhausted and hungry to question Jackie's decision that we stay there, so Bend it was, in more ways than one.   It turned out to be a cool place to retire, raise a family, or live if you are a lady who likes to lunch and shop.  It was a clean, well scrubbed, nicely rehabbed town, full of lot of pricey restaurants, good bakeries, bike/outdoor equipment stores, micro brew pubs, and stores offering a variety of upscale shopping experiences.  Did have 2 strong martinis at happy hour at the Brickhouse on Minnesota Ave, which stood me up for a couple of hours, but otherwise I was bored to death by the end of the next afternoon, ready to go, and glad I didn't buy a condo there.  If it wasn't for a few good photos, I wouldn't have been writing about the place.

And then there was their version of art alley which encapsulates the ethos of the town that tries to think its cool but the stifles any spontaneous artistic expression that does not fit into their highly regimented vision of what cool it is.  Really, Bend is a hard place to be cool, but the people there do seem content. 

That's me in "art alley" sitting next to what was some obviously unauthorized artistic activity which did not fit into the well circumscribed "artistic" vision of the powers that be.  As I said, this place gets old real fast.   Don't know why I sound so negative, everything was nice, maybe too nice. 

I really think the reason I wrote this posting is because I love this last photo.  Bend is a nice place to spend a day or two,  but moving to Bend could kill you.  A mountain bike accident, too many martinis,  suicide secondary to boredom after a fashion, or maybe just old age, so before I get any older,  onward and eastward to the Idaho border.  


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nebraska North Carolina?

It was one of the stranger things we have encountered along the way.  Jackie and I were driving back from Florida with some of my father's  personal effects, and were following the old Albemarle Highway, which happened to be the 264 through North Carolina.

 I had stopped to take a picture or two of something that turned out to be unmemorable, when Jackie looked up and say a sign pointing to Nebraska.  I had seen the sign too but just thought it was some kind of joke or something, and hadn't given it a second thought.  Jackie said we should take the 2 mile detour and check it out.  She is usually right about things, so we did, and sure enough,  two miles down a hot dusty back road winding through corn and wheat fields was a collection of 7 or 8 half abandoned buildings and a church that turned out to be Nebraska, North Carolina.  A Google search provided no information about how it got it's name, or its population which seemed like no more that 10 or 12, even though I didn't see anyone, but there it was.

This is pretty much down town Nebraska.   Two or three more building that are off to the side, and that's about it.

There was an abandoned general store you can see across the road from the church (the above photo was what was left of its contents), a couple of houses, some agricultural structures, and that was it, but given our attachment to the state of Nebraska, it was quite a find.  Will continue to see if I can find out any more about it and report back if I do.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

S 178 1/2 Howard Street, Spokane Washington

It is because of Jackie's Uncle Howard, an exceptional person who could at times appear quite terrestial , that we tend to gravitate to all things Howard or in this case fractionally Howard somewhere in the middle of downtown Spokane Washington, a city that did not totally avoid the wrecking ball when they were wreaking havoc on inner cities in the 70's and 80's, so that it does have enough of an interesting  mix of old buildings, new buildings, sensibly built elevated parking lots and re-purposed power plants etc to make it worth a look see.

This is a room with a view photo that does give you a fairly good macro idea of what you might see if you spend a day.

On the micro level, there are some interesting surprises like Boot Girl on 1st Ave in the Angel Vintage Shop. 

First Ave in the rain, which is how we saw most of Spokane, unfortunately.  Mostly overcast of drizzly for most of the 36 hours we were there, so I ended up with a bad case of wet shoes that seemed to respond well to happy hours,  resulting in a lot of time spent at the bar at the Davenport Hotel where we were staying.  A grand hotel of indescribable beauty built in 1914 by a guy named Davenport.  It was almost torn down as so much of America is,  but was saved... bought and lovingly restored by Mr. and Mrs. Worthy in 2002 

This is just the lobby.  Breath takingly beautifully restored.   In addition, there are 3 or 4 grand ballrooms recreating imperial Russia, the grandeur of Victorian England, and Renaissance Florence that needs to be seen to be believed.  No pictures because I couldn't do them justice.  

Further down First Avenue is the Montvale, a great place to stay if you haven't reached 5 star hobo status.

Spokane, worthy of a two day lay over.  Lots to see.

We are now in Washington state and have completed the mission we promised ourselves, to see all of the lower 48 states.  So a subtext of this blog is about a guy who retired to pursue a goal and was fortunate enough to fulfill that promise.  


Friday, July 4, 2014

Father Duffy Square...

Its hard to know what poor Father Duffy would think about his place in the Times Square zoo of absurdity that surrounds him these days.  Certainly, after the horrors and indignities to humanity he lived through during his valorous service as a chaplain in the Great War, this desecration of his memory should be a walk in the park.  But maybe it is the trivalization of everyday life, the loss of serious overarching purpose afflicting us Americans that would disturb him most.  Our mindless pursuit of pleasure at discount prices, our increasingly alienating electronically induced social isolation, our unconscionable distain for the poor and disenfranchised, our loss of civility, the fact that we have become a nation of slobs.  Mindless omnivores devouring their way through life, fat bellies in frayed tee shirts who no longer even recognize the virtue in wearing a jacket and tie to a Broadway play or at least a clean tee shirt.  No, I imagine that even Father Duffy would cringe at the morass of degraded humanity that gathers at his feet.  I know I do, but I guess I am no Father Duffy.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Voodoo Donuts Portland...

Its been a while since I've been in touch for lots of reasons, both good and a bit sad and after all that time, its hard to know where to pick up the thread, since there are so many  threads to pick up and  so many places to start that that entropy sets in and you do nothing for as long as it takes, but maybe that's how it works.  Anyway a segue is always a good way to get things going even if it is out of context.
So we were in the process of finishing up our seeing of the lower 48 states as I've as mentioned before, but who can really keep track of someone else's life anyway, and that took us to Portland, Oregon where we began this leg of the road trip.

And keeping on the food thing, the most interesting phenomena we encountered in Portland was Voodoo Donuts which friends who have been there mention.

They must be good, because people line up around the block and wait for inordinate amounts of time for a DONUT!!!   The wait and anticipation seem necessary to the experience.  I mean who lines up for a Dunkin Donut.

Don't much care for donuts and don't like waiting on line for anything, so admittedly, we did not have a donut, but we did hang around the exit area long enough to sample the wares vicariously...

This guy just scored a frosted with sprinkles.  How much I asked.  Two bucks he said.  That's a good deal I thought.  You could feed a family of 4 with that.  The next guy I cornered had the mythical (at least in New York) maple bacon donut...

Didn't ask how much since I don't eat bacon, but I could still admire it, and I did!!!  So the funky Voodoo Donut experience is one not to be missed in this otherwise clean, orderly, eco-friendly city where people are polite, wait for the light to change before crossing the street, and wait on line for donuts, a city that is well policed, and appeared devoid of mystery or danger, where you can feel safe and sound, and what's wrong with that?

Except for the signs and post cars and bumper stickers imploring people to "Keep Portland Weird".

Maybe Portland was weird once, but now it is not.  It is a nice, pleasant, friendly, family oriented place that seems to be clinging to a former persona that is no longer, possibly denying or lamenting the loss of their edge.  Keep it going Voodoo, and you too strange guy at the periphery of the weekly crafts fair.