Thursday, April 25, 2013

PDX Redux

Drive, drive, drive, drive, drive. Geesh.  Yesterday and today seemed really long. I think I’m getting a bit weary of all the driving. When I plan these trips, I have to remember, even though it may not seem like much, there’s a big difference between a four hour drive and a six hour drive. I do much better with the four hour drives. I think River gets a little frustrated, too. On the longer driving days, we sometimes have to have a little discussion before he’ll get back in the car. 

Anyway, as I said, we drove today. Woke up in Medford and didn’t waste any time getting the car packed and on the highway. I stopped at a Starbucks a few minutes into the drive, and left River in the car. He was still seat-belted, and the windows were half open. I could see him in a reflection, but he didn’t see me.  So I got to observe his behavior in my absence. To my delight, he just sat there, looking around, seemingly calm.

I contacted a friend I had made in Eugene and told him we were driving from Medford to Portland and would be in his area around lunchtime. (dropping a major hint, which he immediately picked up on and invited us over for lunch). 

River was playing with Akiel, Bob’s greyhound.  A few weeks ago, he was playing with this same dog in his typical, dominant assertive way, but today he was much more playful and interactive.

At one point, I was feeding River his kibble by hand, like I often do, and I offered some of it to Akiel. Bob says Akiel doesn’t like any food and he can’t get him to eat. I wanted to see if he’d like this stuff. River sat patiently and watched me give it Akiel. And he wasn’t quick, either. He smelled it first and then verrrrry slowwwwly took it into his mouth and chewed it. It was a fun lunch. They played very nicely together. The first time we had visited, they eventually had to be separated.

Bob made a salad and some pizza, we ate and visited for a bit, but we both had busy days, so we didn’t linger long. I got back on the road within an hour and a half.

And drove drove drove some more.

We hit some stop and go traffic about three miles from the motel in Portland, so I got off the highway and followed the city streets the rest of the way. I figured, if I’m going to be going 30 MPH the whole way, I at least want to pass things more interesting than more cars on a highway.

I had the possibility of a Nia teaching / coaching gig here in Portland, but I don’t see any evidence of it materializing, so I may just have a night off, which is fine, because ever since I ate that pizza, I’ve needed a nap in the worst way. NOT a good thing when driving down I-5.

I don’t know if I mentioned this, but when I was sitting at the Marine Corps benefit car wash, just south of Laguna Beach, it took longer than I thought it was going to. So I took the opportunity to get finally get connected to Syrius Radio. Thumper came from the dealer with a one year free trial to Syrius, but I had never gotten it hooked up, as I was always so busy trying to figure out the rest of the car, (or driving) when I was in it.

So I was first listening to a station called Alt Nation. So it seems that in the 90’s, after New Wave had , there was a new genre called Alternative Rock.  And I actually like some of it. Weezer, The Goons, and there are others but I can’t remember. I don’t know if those are new bands or 90’s bands to be honest, but the DJs were introducing songs by saying “here’s new music from...”

But then it all started sounding the same, so I switched to First Wave. Which was New Wave music, but I guess it’s not ‘new’ anymore? Remember?  that FIRST WAVE? “you mean that one in the 80’s?” Richard Blade was a DJ. Remember him? He was that British celebrity DJ on KROQ.

Then one JD announced that Cheech and Chong were being interviewed on channel 99, and she hoped that I stayed on that station, but if I wanted to go over there, she’d understand. So I went and listened to it. It was interesting. They were actually pretty amazing. They talked about how important it was to keep in good shape and how comedy was like jazz music. They’re very intelligent and were way ahead of their time. They were the first to discover Jim Belushi, Dan Ackroyd and Paul Reubens.

And when that was over, this comedy station started playing bits of stand up comedy routines. Hilarious.

Anyway, I think I like Syrius radio so far, but only when the windows are rolled up.

I can’t hear the radio very well when the windows are down and I love to have them down. I spend a lot of time on the highways going 55 - 70 MPH and the wind going by can be pretty rip-roaring. I wish I could have the insular silence of rolled up windows with the fresh air and brightness of the windows rolled down. 

There is a bit of a thump, in the car, in certain circumstances. Depending on what speed Thumper is going, and which windows are up or down, the air pockets get very violent and make a huge, bass-y thump until one of the conditions change. I can actually feel the thump in my eardrum tissue.  

And another thing I think I’d change is the roof. It’s just a preference, but I don’t think I like having a glass roof. I believe that the sun’s damaging rays still get through glass, even though it doesn’t look bright or feel hot, so on a full day of driving, I am basically sitting out in the sun all day long if it’s not cloudy. I like having the option to open it up, but I think that when I do close it, I want it opaque. 

I love cruise control and am getting better at it. All the controls, in general seem to be coming naturally, but there is still one lever on the steering wheel I haven’t explored.

I’ve improved my gas mileage. it’s now averaging 29.5 MPG. I noticed that when I drove on a long stretch of I-5 that had a 70 MPH speed limit, after a while my average dropped to 29.4 MPG. But other than that, it seems to be mostly tied to how much I drive on the highway versus driving around through towns and traffic.

I still sometimes grab for the stick shift for a split second. Not all the time. And not even that often. But I’ve done it at least twice on this trip.

I’ll be so glad to be rid of that temporary license plate taped to the back window and get my real plates. It’s almost been taken away by the wind many times.

River and I went for a walk to the park as I was writing this. He gets that look sometimes that I know means, he wants to go do something. And I figure since he’s so patient with all the sitting around in the car all day thing, I could stop and take him for a little play time. We’re still keeping off of the leg as much as possible, but the kid has so much energy to run off, it’s really hard to completely rest.

I took him to a local park and put on the long leash and let him sniff every tree and mark some of the best ones.  A couple of places even warranted a few scrapes with his back legs. A young pup spied us from across the park and came running towards us, dragging his leash behind. I could see in both of their body language that we had two alpha dogs. But this pup was half River’s size, and obviously very young, so I was curious what would happen. River sized it up and then deferred to the pup’s innocence and took off running. I could sense that River wanted to stay and fight, but his sense of maturity took over and he thought it best to let the pup think he’s tough. 

We tried to play running games, but the pup was interfering. Finally the owner noticed that her dog wasn’t with her and called out, “Bossy! Bossy!” A perfect name for what is going to grow up to be a very dominant dog.

After the park, I had a delicious take out dinner from a pub called Mac Menamuns.  I got the BBQ pork shoulder sandwich and a cobb salad. And I never ate the chocolate bread I got with my coffee at Starbucks this morning, so I ate that for dessert. 

Looking forward to heading home tomorrow.

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