(Read Part 2)
In honor of Michele's trip to Portland, I present a few observations collected from my trip to Stumptown last August. Unlike Michele, I am not pretending that I'll actually move there, but I respect her charade.
I took the MAX (short for "Metropolitan Area Xpress", because people in Portland apparently can't spell) light rail from the Portland airport all the way out to Hillsboro, where the wedding was being held. I was on the train for about 90 minutes, during which time I read a sizable xcerpt from a book I got at the airport Powell's Books and lent my cell phone to a handsome black man wearing xtremely muddy pants. I felt bad that Portland's inadequate local spelling education programs had condemned the man to a life of ditch-digging. Luckily, you only need to know numbers to operate my phone. The total cost of my MAX ride was an in-xpensive $1.70. The same journey on BART would have cost me $12 and a vial of my blood.
America's Fourth-Largest Port
For some reason, it surprised me to see all the container ships in the harbor. Then I remembered the name of the city I was in. If it wasn't already such a famous city on two coasts, "Portland" would make a great name for a low-ride amusement park. There'd be a ride all about loading ships, and another one about unloading ships. And then a dredging game, for the kids. Then I would threaten to sell the amusement park to the United Arab Emirates so Congress would buy me out at an inflated price.
During my three days in Oregon, I told at least five different people that Portland was the fourth-largest port in the USA, and not one of them doubted me. I totally made it up! I would not have gotten away with a bold claim like that in 2006. Port awareness has risen so much in the last six months, it is absolutely breathtaking.
There was a billboard outside Hillsboro that said "Jesus Saves From Hell". To me, that meant a billboard owner wasn't satisfied with plain old "Jesus Saves", and its implied message that what Jesus was saving you from was hell. Maybe they were getting a lot of snarky comments.
"Oh, did Jesus call Geico about his car insurance? Is that how He saves?"
"Sounds like this Jesus fellow is a hockey goalie or something."
"Wow, the Son of God knows CPR."
"Jesus Saves...but maybe Moses invests!"
Finally the billboard guy had enough. "Jesus Saves -- From Hell. What do you have to say now, smart guys?"
And it was cool for a while, until one guy drove by and yelled, "Hey, how does Jesus call Geico about his car insurance - from hell?" Then the billboard owner got frustrated and went down to America's fourth-largest port to cool down for a while by playing the dredging game.