Monday, June 29, 2015

Travellin', travellin' travelling travellin, looking for something what can it be?


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 The journey begins: I left my Brooklyn apartment at around 4am, walked north 10 blocks to the A train, transferred for the Airtrain at Howard Beach and made it to Terminal 8 of JFK with plenty of time to go through security, drink coffee and get psyched.  Even more psyched.

Dark blob on far left is Prospect Park.  You can't see it in the picture but there's a large hangar type building right near my house and I could see it from the plane, so I could essentially look at my home from the air.  It was fun.

Goodbye NY until next weekend!














 Journey phase two:
Went to sleep on the plane listening to music from KEXP podcasts (the greatest music podcast, Seattle-based radio station)
and woke up looking at THIS>>>

These crazy landscapes, the likes of which I've never seen before, are the Arizona desert.  I'm not sure if we flew over the Grand Canyon but I was doing my best to spot it!

So I was headed for Phoenix, Arizona.

Arizona has always seemed to me like a place that exists only in films with roadtrips and small desert towns with a few houses between a motel and a gas station.  Which at first seemed like an accurate notion.  Desert desert mountains canyons then SUDDENLY - huuuge sprawling city!
It was so crazy as well to see roads criss crossing across this vast empty landscape, I was looking at them thinking 'who is going on a drive here? Where from and where to? How? How can anyone drive across such a wide barren space?'

And then suddenly - metropolis.  Never seen anything like it.  This country is mental.

Also Arizona = hot.  I was never outside but you can just tell the air is burning.

And taking off again, Portland bound.  Another thing I couldn't get over was seeing mountains in the distance, and in the middle of the city.  Houses built around, then a random small mountain, and the houses carrying on around it as if there's nothing there.  I'm used to being on top of rolling hills or looking across beautiful acres of fields and woodland but somehow these reddish brown mountains just casually hanging out in the background blew my mind.  Like, from any point in the town where you happen to live, you can just see full scale MOUNTAINS.  What???












 Journey phase three:
If you think the Arizona landscape got me overexcited, it was nothing on the view of the Pacific Northwest.  I woke up this time to completely green mountains, blue vistas, snowcaps, lakes, pine forest and fields.  Just beautiful.







And so I arrived in Portland wreathed in smiles.
PDX international airport has been voted by some organisation best in the US, and it's easy to understand why.
It's all glass panels, natural light and green accents that make it feel very soothing.  The food options are great, there are little rooms with booths for plugging in devices in comfort and privacy, the wifi works perfectly (cough Phoenix cough JFK) and the largest cuckoo clock in North America takes pride of place, its outside carved from a single piece of maple and displaying a montage of Portland signatures - roses, hazelnuts, a cyclist, Portlandia etc.

The first thing I did was go to check out the transit situation.  Portland runs on Trimet (Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon) and I've just spotted that on their website, one of the tabs is called 'How We Roll' which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about it.
There is MAX (metropolitan area express) light rail, street car, and buses.  I had no idea about Portland public transport going in but I can now declare that it's bloody fantastic.  It's not as frequent, widespread or 24 hours as in NYC but it is $4 cheaper for a weekly pass, it's clean, it's quiet, eco-friendly, easy to navigate and just in general a pleasant experience.  I LOVED riding the MAX and the tram, it's so fun seeing the city that way.  And you just hop on and hop off, except for on the bus you don't really have to pay.  ??!! 
Anyway I got a weekly pass and had it briefly explained to me by the incredibly kind and helpful lady manning the area where TriMet passes were available.  Yes, they had a person designated to hang out in that area and help people out with their public transit.  Well played, Portland.

So as you can see blogging about this trip will be an inolved process.  The only way I can think of to do it is to break it down.
I took about 800 pics.  Buckle up.


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