After backpacking in Olympic National Park, I left Tracey’s house in Hood River around 9:00 pm. Because I couldn’t check into the hostel in downtown Portland until the following day and I just needed a place to sleep for a night, I booked a motel in the suburbs of Portland.
I arrived at Rodeway Inn around 10:30 pm. I asked the woman at the front desk if there was a room on the lower level. Up to this point, almost all of the rooms I had received at motels had been on the second floor, with no elevator. I was really tired of carrying my luggage up all the stairs all the time. To my surprise, the woman said she could give me a slightly upgraded room, on the first floor, with no other rooms above it. Finally, my luck with motels was starting to turn around!
The room was nice, and had a newer white comforter/sheet on top. It was clean, large, and I didn’t have to go up the stairs. After not showering for four days while backpacking, I enjoyed the shower and headed to bed.
I slept in but went to get the free breakfast just before time ran out. The motel is near the airport so they cater to travelers leaving early for flights and only offer quick to-go items such as yogurt. It was free, so I took it.
The hostel in Portland made it clear that I couldn’t check in until 3:00 pm so I had some time to kill. I needed to do some laundry so I headed to a laundromat. The last time I used a laundromat was about ten years prior. They’ve moved up in the world and now offer the option to use a credit card (I realized this after I changed my $5 bill for quarters). It didn’t take long to wash and dry the one load of laundry I had. I bought a sandwich for lunch at the convenient store next to the laundromat. It was strange – folding my laundry and putting it back into a trash bag reminded me of simpler times in my life. A time where I was living in an apartment – a time before homeownership and other adulting responsibilities.
I still had some time to kill so I drove to Voodoo Donuts. I always heard they had amazing donuts and it’s the thing to do in Portland. To my surprise, there was no line where the barriers clearly helped guide customers. I walked right up to the counter and got a donut (or two…ok three, don’t judge). I ate a donut outside and took the other two with me to devour later.
I got to the hostel, which consisted of five old Victorian buildings. There was a hip café next to the front desk, a board game room with the only TV available (times for the world soccer cup were displayed for all to watch at early morning hours), and a courtyard outside to enjoy some live music once a week.
I attempted to check-in at 2:00 pm but they would not let me so I sat in my car until 3:00 pm. When I went back in at 3:00 pm, there was a line to check in. I was worried about people snoring so I booked a private room for nine nights. My room was in one of the buildings next store through the courtyard. I was lucky that I got my own bathroom, but this room was old, hot, and small. It was also right across the hall from the communal bathroom, across from the stairs leading upstairs to more rooms, and next to the kitchen. Needless to say, it was not a quiet room. The kitchen was nice and had plenty of seating. It had flags from multiple countries displayed, and felt inclusive.
It was hot with no air conditioning so I asked the front desk if they had a fan. They gave me an old, dirty box fan that shook when it was on the top speed. I took it since Portland was going through a heat wave.
Feeling extremely exhausted for some reason (maybe recovering from the backpacking trip), I took a good nap. I had to rest the fan on the luggage holder so it was at the level of the bed; the good thing about the fan being noisy on a high-speed was that it helped to block out other noises.
Hoping to meet other travelers, I ate at the café in the hostel (it’s also open to non-hostel guests). Unfortunately, everyone there was on a phone or a laptop. The digital age is killing personal contact. I purposely stayed in the hostel so that I’d meet travelers but it didn’t appear that would be happening.
I decided I needed to get out and walk around. I found a movie theater about a mile away so I could walk and not lose my parking spot. The walk through downtown was great – full of life, art, and friendly faces.
I got to Living Room Theaters and it only cost $6! Must have been because it was a Monday. When I walked inside, it looked like a bar – there were people sitting at the bar and at tables, drinking some wine and beer. The menu had items like kale and strawberry salads, and served popcorn in little white square dishes. Very upscale for $6. Of course, I spent twice that much on a glass of wine and a small popcorn.
The theater also offered free water with normal sized cups in the hallway (all theaters should be doing this!). I took advantage of this and headed to the theater with my wine, water, and popcorn. The seats were large and looked deceptively like recliners. The movie I saw was Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. There was hardly anybody in the theater and it felt good to be there. I’m not sure why, but it made me feel comfortable. I hadn’t seen a movie in a theater in months. Traveling for the last two weeks was an adjustment. This felt like a regular life, and I needed that.
The movie ended close to 11:30 pm and I decided to walk back to the hostel and enjoy the night air. A piano sat outside on the sidewalk, decorated in art. Letters stamped on it read “Please play me!” and there was a young guy playing the piano while a young woman played the trumpet. I stood there and enjoyed the delightful free show with a couple of other people.
I passed a church that was housed in a beautiful building with closed doors. A man with long hair sat outside, legs crossed, facing the middle door. He sat right up against the door and even though he was across the street, I could feel his pain. I could only see his back, swaying back and forth. I wanted to help but didn’t know what to say or do. I wished the doors were open for him.
As I got closer to the hostel, a woman zipped by me on the street on an electric, standing scooter. There was a slight breeze on this Monday night, and Portland felt like a city that had character. I think I’ll enjoy it here.