Gassing up in Albany

Our attendant in Albany. In gassing up in Waldport, an attendant greeted us in red uniform.
Our attendant in Albany. In gassing up in Waldport, an attendant greeted us in red uniform.

In Oregon, law has it you can not pump your own gasoline.  You must have an attendant do it.

We recently filled up our rental car, a little Chevy Sonic, at a Mobil station in Albany. The attendant soon appeared and took over.  Even washed the windshield.  She had to hustle, taking care of three other cars at the same time.  Took our credit card and read it via a hand-held computer and had time to chat.

This was like in yesteryear when it was the common practice.  This layed-back form came easily with me, having lolled through life having a gas jockey pump your gas while you slipped inside station to buy a Root Beer.

Our attendant in Albany said she also manages this one-person operation, and her husband manages another. Not only that, Her son also recently entered the field. She is convinced the Oregon law was meant primarily to create jobs.  Her family seems to be the living proof.

Maybe this is a good idea, a government solution to more jobs for workers displaced by computer world and obsolete and environmentally destructive industries like coal mining.

Let your mind wander.  Surely you can come up with some weird, unnecessary jobs to help the economy.

 

Walking along the Columbia

The Riverwalk. Looking east.

The Riverwalk. Looking east.

In Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River, you can walk along the shore on an asphalt path.  The path is called the Astoria Riverwalk and runs almost 13 miles from one end of town to the other and beyond that to the east.

The Riverwalk runs parallel to railroad tracks layed down more than a century ago. A 1913 trolley regularly rumbles down these tracks, noon to 6. The single car is usually crammed full, standing room only.  That’s one of the reasons Nebra and I chose one late afternoon to travel the Riverwalk by foot into town for supper. It is only about a mile and a half from the lodging on 34th Street and Leif Erickson.

Tanker in the Columbia.

Tanker in the Columbia.

The air is invigorating, cool now in the 60s with a light westerly breeze in our faces. We wear wind-breakers. Unbelievable that in 48 hours we have gone from an inferno in Phoenix to this in Oregon.

Only  a few pass us on the Riverwalk.  Some afoot, some jogging, a few on bicycles.

Season for harvesting wild berries.

Season for harvesting wild berries.

The Columbia has little activity. Several huge tankers are anchored in mid-stream waiting for what I do not know. Across the river to the north, the hills and mountains of Washington rise up as an emerald wall.  To the west, the horizon is broken only by the 4.1 mile Astoria-Megler  bridge that leads to Cape Disappointment and other interesting and historic places in Washington.

A tug boat ushers a tanker under the bridge, guiding it around the treacherous sandbars. The Columbia’s mouth is known as “The Graveyard of the Pacific.” A sign listing those sailors who have perished in these waters rests at the side of the Riverwalk.

IMG_2116Between us and the river is a lush strip of wild bushes and a few trees.  Nebra stops to examine wildflowers and patches of blackberry and huckleberry.  My camera is busy shooting the mossy-coated, green piles sticking out of the water. At one spot we see gulls (or are they terns?) resting atop of every one, all facing west to the setting sun.

As we close in on Astoria’s downtown, a concoction of museums, like the Maritime, restaurants and brewers pop into view. The main drag, Commercial Street, is up a few blocks on the left.

Astoria Megler Bridge.

Astoria Megler Bridge.

At 8th Street, we swerve south into the main part of Astoria. It is at this point of departure from the Riverwalk, we find at the Buoy restaurant. It’s No. 2 on Trip Advisor, says Nebra, who venture inside to check the menu.  She says there is a window in the floor looking down on the docks where a sea lion lazed.

Night on the river.

Night on the river.

And so the walk ends. It has been pleasant.

The Riverwalk, I think, is an ideal way to become acquainted with this little logging and fishing city at the edge of America near where the Lewis &  Clark Expedition made history.

The way a writer flies

Arrival at Portland International.

Arrival at Portland International.

A writer is a writer. You don’t have to write a novel.  Or get a magazine article published.  It’s the way you think. That’s what makes a writer a writer. It’s the way you fly.

I remember a story about the humorist James Thurber.  James is sitting at a supper table with his wife and some friends.  James is not eating and he is not conversing.  Wife looks over at James and sees his lips moving.  “James,” she says, nudging him,  “Stop writing.”

That’s a real writer for you. Always composing.

Taking notes, writing actually, filled up much of our flight to Oregon. It’s a little crazy, I suppose.  But this is how I fly.  Somehow this info may regurgitate into something special. Maybe no more than a line in an entire book I may write someday.

A label-maker has written “Oregon 2016,” and I have stuck it to the cover of a skinny 4″ x 8″ reporter’s notebook. I number the inside pages in red ink, upper right corner.  I am ready to begin.

I started Day 1 of our journey with the date and a little drawing. It is a circle with little lines radiating from it.  Everyone knows that means sunshine, which is the state of the weather right now in Phoenix.

It is Saturday, Sky Harbor Airport.  I have paid a Yellow Cab driver $15.25 for delivering us from the house.  In truth, I fling a $20 bill at him and say, “Keep it.”

Saturday afternoons are slow at airports generally.  It sure was today. We checked bags, got  boarding passes and sailed through security in all of 30 minutes. We arrived at Gate C-1 at 2:32. A screen behind the Southwest Airlines counter says it is sunny and 75 in Portland. Very good news. This is all in my notebook.

We lift off at 4:12. Forgot to note the time the plane pushed away from the gate. I usually do that. Two and a half hours to PLX, which is airlines shorthand for Portland International.

Hours and some sleep time later, just as I see the snowy top of Mount Hood west of Portland, a huge mountain emerges on the port side of the plane.  It is so close to the plane that it fills up most of the window.  I later ask the lead stewardess, “Do you know what mountain that was?”

“No,” she said. “You’ll have to ask the pilot. We’re not allowed to look out the windows.” Really? Now that’s valuable stuff.

This stew is pretty silly.  I hear one of the passengers across from me, a tall, long-legged blonde in shorts, call this “a party flight.”

At one point, this middle-aged stew asks us to sing “Happy Birthday,” to 6-year-old Ryan who is sitting near the front of the plane. Not only that but we are asked to make candles for an imaginary cake. Everyone turns on their overhead lights.  Soon, Ryan is requested to blow out the candles.  And so off go the lights, or most of them anyway. Ryan will no doubt treasure this moment forever.

Touchdown at PDX at 6:31.  Arrive at Gate, 6:33.

And suddenly we are in the airport proper, heading for baggage claim.  Welcome to Portland! Our escape to Oregon has begun.

These are valuable notes. Anyone can see that.  Should you read a book someday and notice any of the above information in them, I hope you will give me a call.  I’m not against suing someone for stealing my notes.