Sunday, September 9, 2007


Living in campgrounds as we do, and attempting to stay in our favored temperature range of daytime highs of 65 to 75 (and we have variations on that, depending on cloud cover, humidity, wind, etc.!), summer is not our favorite time of the year for travel. We marked the passing of the Labor Day holiday with smiles and a sigh of relief. Now the weather cools, the vacationing families return to their homes, jobs and schools... life returns to "normal".

We're back in Oregon, deployed in a small RV park at the western end of the Columbia River Gorge (east side of Portland) for 4 days - good access to both the hikes in the Gorge and activities in Portland.

Last night - Saturday - we made plans to meet our friends Diane and Frank for our version of a night on the town: take the metro into the city center for our 6 pm dinner reservation - yes, we are one short step from the Early Bird Special.

It is just a couple of miles from our RV park to the Tri-Met (the Portland metro) station, then a 45 minute ride downtown. The metro stopped right in front of the Lebanese restaurant (Habibi) where we had our reservation... no worries about getting lost!

After dinner, we walked over to Pioneer Square, the main downtown plaza. Each time we have been there, something interesting was going on; last night, there was a band playing, with vendor canopies set up along the sides. The square was PACKED.

The sun had just set, the downtown lights were coming on, the music filled the air and the crowd moved to the beat.

We had plenty of time to enjoy it as we walked from one Tri-Met ticket machine to the next, looking for one that would issue tickets. Usually, any machine will accept bills (and make change), coins, and credit cards. Our tickets were only $2.05 each... but the first four ticket machines would take only coins.

We tried our credit cards, we watched other would-be riders puzzle through the same process... "What, no bills? Do you have enough change? No? Well, we'll use out credit card. Hey, it's not working! It cancelled my transaction! What's up with that???" Try the next corner, then the next... and eventually we had tickets.

Riding the metro at night, from the center of the city to an outlying suburb, is really a different slice of life for us. Although we don't have a lot in common with vacationing families, the typical mix in an RV park or campground is rather homogeneous. Well, there aren't a lot of retired fulltimers on the metro!

We mingled with the folks who are more likely to be using public transportation because they don't have a personal vehicle than they are to be on the metro for fun and convenience. We got a good lesson in current tennage fashion, brushed up on our Spanish (besides the conversation around us, metro announcements are in both English and Spanish), waved and winked at shy kids, watched the die-hard smokers suck on un-lite cigarettes as they awaited their stop and a chance to light up. By the time we got to the very last stop, ours, my heinie was tired and so was I. Another Saturday night!

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