Sunday, September 03, 2006

Portland, OR

We left Vashon just in time to make the 10:35 AM ferry to Tacoma. Jim stayed behind, because Andy offered to drop him off at the ferry station later in the day. He had hotel reservations near the airport and an early flight the next morning. We had people to meet in Portland, and were eager to get there around lunch time.

Parked right in front of us on the ferry, was a Bard student who lives on Vashon Island. She talked to us, well mostly Chloe, throughout the trip. We promised to get in touch with her this fall.

Our first stop in Portland, was the home of Goudarz. A friend of Majid’s from Tehran, Goudarz is the person who helped me find Majid in the first place. When he was helping me 12 years ago, he said that if I was ever in Portland, I should stop by to meet him. Goudarz and his partner Gabby gave us a grand tour of their beautiful city. Our first stop was the famous Portland Rose Garden, which is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen in scale and variety. Portland is certainly a garden city, as my friend Allison has tried to explain to me.

After seeing the downtown, they drove us past Powell’s Books, which Goudarz said was the #2 icon in Portland. I asked him what the #1 icon was, and he said the Rose Garden…

I was impressed by the four-car tram that they have running through the city. Gabby relies solely on public transportation. The biking is great here too, with numerous trails and paths, and bike racks on the buses.

One thing that truly surprised me was an electric car charger on the street. A single person vehicle was plugged into it. It looked like a covered motorcycle with three wheels; it’s made by Corbin Motors ( The charging was provided for free by the local electric company: Portland General Electric.

Everything about Portland seemed good. The politics are progressive, they have good public transportation, and they even have a Persian Festival every year. Some 11,000 Iranian-Americans live in the area. I may have to return one year for that.

We left Goudarz and Gabby after too short a visit, but so glad to have had the opportunity to meet them. We were headed to my friend Sue’s house for dinner. Sue and I met this summer in Prague, where she was taking the playwrighting course. When she found out that we would be driving through Portland this summer she suggested that we stop by, so that we could see each other again and meet her daughter and husband.

Sue gave me an amazing Pinot Noir to drink—what was that? please tell me again--and a wonderful dinner with salad from their garden. It was great to see her and meet her family. I hope we can see each other again this fall when her instructor’s play is staged in Chicago. Another visit that was too short, but we had to drive to Cascade Locks to spend the night. Bruce and Deanna told me to look for their old house out there, but I ended up driving out of Portland in the dark and missed it. Next time, because Portland is one place I know I’ll return to.

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