Here’s a weird one. I was packing up my stuff on Thursday evening, readying to travel from Bellingham to Estacada. One of the perils of being into a sport that’s not popular back home in Europe is that there’s such a massive amount of temptation to stock up on baseball books when I’m here. I’ve already bought too many, and I’ll have to send some of them back to Europe. (The very thought of sending stuff home from my travels really makes me feel like I’m some sort of Victorian fancy man, collecting ornamental elephants carved from the bones of Polynesian children to make my Mayfair mansion oh-so-exotic.) So, I’m packing my stuff, and I move a few pairs of underpants from atop a pile of books, and there’s a little folded leaflet with a photo of Mickey Mantle on it. The words on the front: Mickey Mantle – His Final Inning. Other than that photo on the front, it’s all text. Text about Jesus Christ. I wonder where this came from. Is it a sign that I should choose Jesus? I doubt it. I imagine it had probably fallen out of one of the second hand baseball books that I bought.
Anyhow, I left Bellingham behind after three highly enjoyable weeks and got on a train heading towards Portland, Oregon. It’s a beautiful journey, especially between Bellingham and Seattle where the train skirts the Puget Sound. Beyond Seattle, the train was a bit fuller, so I didn’t have room to spread out as much, but, y’know, the seats on Amtrak trains seem fairly roomy compared to British trains, so no big deal, really. And there was some wonderful clouds to look at through the filthy windows. Including this one, that I think looks like a pig. And if you squint a bit, it might even looks like two pigs kissing each other.
Kraig was there at the station to pick me up, and we promptly went to a book store where I manage to buy two more sports-based books. We had a leisurely coffee, and having filled a couple of hours chatting and stuff, we were heading to the Rose Garden to see some NBA bouncyball. Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Hornets. Kraig had tickets from his brother’s company for seats on the Lexus Club Level, $140 seats. But, you get “free” food, with lots of hot plate fanciness (for a sporting event). We chowed down on some rather tasty pasta and some, err, pizza.
I’ve often scoffed at basketball, but, fair’s fair, I really enjoyed the game. It’s still kinda freaky to be looking at Chris Paul of the Hornets as one of the smallest players, knowing he’s a good four inches taller than me. But to watch the ebb and flow of the game – one team building a lead, then the other getting a bit of momentum to come back – was really fun. And the size of the court, and thus the closeness of the fans to the court, makes for a great atmosphere. Sadly, though, after three fairly tight quarters, the Hornets kicked the Blazers’ asses in the final quarter, winning 92-77.
And, well, it’d be dishonest of me to pretend that I didn’t enjoy the variety of chicks dancing and doing gymasticky stuff during time outs and other breaks. And it’d be selfish to keep those photos to myself, right?
On the way home, we drove past this most gaudily decorated house, and sadly, the flood damaged library in Estacada where Barbara works. It’s nice to be back here. Eleven hours sleep and, you know what it’s like, you wake up at gone noon, and it feels like the day is over before it has started.
We drove as the sun set to a nearby restaurant for a nice meal in the evening with some of their friends, then back home for football and Sleepless in Seattle on the telly, all rounded off with a nice soak in Kraig and Barbara’s lovely outdoor wood-fired hot tub. Specs steaming up, occasionally lifting myself out to feel the cold air and subsequent loveliness of plunging back down into the warm water and watching my own private fireworks show of burning embers flying out of the tub’s chimney six feet above my head.