Sunday in Oregon started with breakfast at the Sassy Onion in Salem, which served me a fabulous slice of French toast, whose toppings included the hilariously named marionberries. I wish all fruits shared names with disgraced politicians. How could anyone pass up a heaping plate of bacon and fulliloves? Mmmm.
Chock full of carbs, Jason and I dropped Alanna off at the house so she could complete the week’s trivia questions, and we took off toward Portland.
Our first stop was Washington Park, home of the zoo, the rose garden, and the Japanese gardens, among other attractions. We followed the twisty road until we were sure we had gone too far, and then realized that we had arrived at our destination. We hit the Japanese gardens first. It was odd going from bustling park atmosphere with cars and people everywhere to reverent, nearly silent wooded area within mere seconds.
The Japanese gardens, for me, are a study in texture, pattern, and light. I filed away little ideas to take back home for my house and garden. At the top of my list: Those little smooth hand-sized pebbles lining the walkways. Oooh, and moss.
The gardens — and all of the area, I found — were also a study in spiders. Good god almighty, they were everywhere.
I’d be poking my head this way and that, trying to take pictures or get a closer look at something, only to find that three webs populated by three spiders were hanging mere inches from my face. Mercifully these were not evil kamikaze jumping spiders, but small laid-back hippie garden spiders who had no interest in injecting my face with their deadly skin-rotting venom. I suspect their presence was at least partially responsible for the fact that I didn’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes even while in the lush woods. That’s right: Lovely weather, no humidity, and no mosquito bites. Heaven is populated by a bunch of spiders. What a fucking rip.
Jason and I both have fastwalk syndrome when it comes to being inside a place we’ve paid admission to (see also: museums), so we saw all there was to see of the gardens in no time. I suppose you’re meant to walk around and meditate or contemplate or pontificate or whateverate, but I’ve never felt comfortable paying money to have deep thoughts. Except when I went to college. Ba-zing! Wait, that wasn’t even a good zinger.
The Japanese gardens are within walking distance of the rose garden, which is just kind of a ridiculous place because it is just bursting with color as far as you can see. I mean, it seems improbable that so many varieties of roses can be so beautiful at the same time. It’s a bit overwhelming. Jason and I made our way leisurely through the rows, stopping to smell the blooms when we thought about it. That was part of the fun — not every rose smells great and there’s no real way to tell which ones will.
After our sashay through the gardens, we were ready to get out of the sun. So we drove on into the city and made our way to Powell’s, that giant beacon of literary retail fortitude. I thought New York’s Strand was huge. Ye gods. Powell’s is the kind of huge that becomes kind of impossible to contemplate right away. It’s constructed and laid out like a confusing old thrift store, which I kind of loved. I ordered a refreshing tea type drink from the cafe and roamed the aisles, marveling at all the esoteric sub-departments. I did not allow myself to buy any books, although I did get suckered in by the stationery knicknacks on sale. I’m weak.
Once Powell’s was conquered, Jason and I found ourselves in need of a novelty doughnut. We were in luck, because Voodoo Donuts is just a mere sunny-day jaunt from Powell’s.
I suppose I can forgive Voodoo for stealing what could have easily been my personal slogan (hyuk!), because they make an obscenely fine novelty doughnut, for which which we waited out in the sun for MULTIPLE MINUTES, in a line wrapped around the building like iPhone-on-release-day fanboys. Jason found himself unable to resist the pull of the Bacon Maple Bar, while I found myself seduced by the Old Dirty Bastard. Jason was kind enough to let me sample the BMB, and it was unbelievable. Like pancakes on a doughnut. My ODB was ridiculous as well; it’s a glazed doughnut with chocolate icing, crumbled Oreos, and a swizzle of peanut butter. That’s right, America. I hate my arteries. (Full Voodoo menu here; I regret that I did not try a Memphis Mafia.)
Gut bomb successfully dropped, we walked around a bit and decided to rejoin Alana in Keizer so we could have dinner in Salem at McMenamins (Boon’s Treasury). Aside from waiting forfuckingever for drink refills, the dining experience at McMenamins was pleasant, and I enjoyed two glasses of Ruby. I love that the proprietors hunt for interesting old buildings to transform and inhabit.
I should also probably note that while exiting the car to go in to McMenamins, a bird shat on me. Well, actually, near me. On the car as I was getting out. I received some residual splashback. It was my first bird shitting ever. I’m glad it could happen in Oregon, where the bird shit is organic and free-range.
Anyway, my trip was shorter than I would have liked, but it gave me a taste of life in a region that is so vastly different from where I live now. I can’t wait to go back.