I’m finally getting a few posts up of my visit to the United States in August. While there, I spent some time in Seaside, Oregon with my brothers Randy and Rich, who lives in California. Then Randy, his daughter Whitney and I flew over to Great Falls, Montana, where we were able to hook up with brothers Bob, from Great Falls, and Doug, from Ft. Worth, Texas. Finally, I ventured alone to Las Vegas, Nevada, Sin City in the desert.
Off I Go
In this post, I’ll write about the first part of the journey, to Oregon. I flew out of Vientiane to Bangkok on a Thai Smile Airlines Airbus A320, which carries about 150 passengers. On this particular trip there were only 25 passengers (I counted). If this is typical, Thai Smile must be losing a bundle of money on this 55 minute flight to Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok.
From Bangkok to Taoyuan airport in Taiwan aboard an EVA flight took about three and a half hours (the plane was quite full) and the EVA flight to Seattle took about 11 hours. Again, the plane was full, but at least I had an aisle seat so it was easy to get up and walk around. Best to try to avoid deep vein thrombosis on these long flights. Seattle to Portland was basically a short hop, about 30 minutes in the air.
In the Beaver State
Earlier, when planning this trip, cheapskate (thrifty?) me looked for the lowest-priced tickets I could find that had reasonable layovers. So, I got into Portland a little after midnight and stayed in the airport until 10 a.m. because Randy couldn’t pick me up any earlier. No problem; I’ve spent longer times than that in worse airports. (The Portland airport is a wonderful facility, especially if you have to spend a long time there, which I would do on a later flight–more on that when I get my Vegas post up.)
Meeting My Long-Lost Brother
Of course, after an 11-hour flight, I was pretty bedraggled as I headed down to a lower level of the airport to get my checked baggage, so I was unaware of just about anything that was going on around me. My mistake! After hanging out at PDX all night, I waited outside the terminal for Randy, who pulled up just around ten o’clock. I went to toss my bags in the back seat and when I opened the door I got a shock. There was a fellow back there holding up a sign with my name on it. What the hell! It turned out that this was my older half-brother Rich, whom I’d never met before. It turns out that he had planned a surprise for me and had been at the airport around midnight holding up that sign as I arrived, but I hadn’t noticed it. He didn’t see me either, since he thought I’d be wearing a NY Yankee baseball cap, which I didn’t have on. He had reserved a room at one of the local hotels, so I could have stayed there instead of the airport. But, I totally ruined his surprise, much to my chagrin.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get much time to hang out because he had an early afternoon flight back to California. I’m grateful that we got to spend an hour or so together–he’s a great guy and I really thank him for the time and money he spent to go up to Portland to meet me. The next time I’m able to get back to the ‘States, I want to make an effort to hook up with him for some quality time together. We had a couple of beers at the hotel, getting to know each other, then it was time for him to go and time for Randy and I to head over to Seaside, a 90-minute drive. Sorry, Rich, that I ruined your surprise.
Fishing on the Mighty Columbia
I spent four days with my brother and his daughter, Whitney, at his beautiful home in Seaside. He had promised to take me out on his boat to do some fishing on the Columbia River, so after buying an Oregon fishing license online, I found myself at his boat dock at a marina near Astoria early the next morning, around 7 o’clock. A friend of his, Vern, would spend the morning with us out on the choppy river, trying to hook into a salmon or two or three.
A very strong tide was working against us, though, dragging us toward the Pacific ocean. We went with it for a while, then headed back upriver until Vern caught a nice fish, though my brother, who mainly handled the boat, and I were skunked. We called it a day around noon and put back into the marina. The next day we started out a little later to avoid the outgoing tide and the water was less choppy, so the ride was much easier. Joining us were John and Don, a couple more of Randy’s friends. This day, John would get a nice-sized salmon, but the rest of us were shut out. I had one on my pole, but it spit the hook out just as it was about to be netted and hauled into the boat. Sigh. There was quite a crowd on the river, with dozens and dozens of boats joining the hunt. Again, we put in about noon. I like to joke that I came half-way round the world to catch a Columbia River salmon and all I got was one lousy picture of a salmon. Sheesh. Maybe next time, whenever that will be.
Early Morning Surprise
Anyway, I had a great time with my brother and my niece. We drove around and took in some of the sights, though the area was very crowded with tourists. Randy said that after Labor Day, Seaside and the surrounding environs would be back to normal, a situation he could hardly wait for.
I spent a few relaxing days at his home, which has a beautiful back yard with a very large vegetable garden, so we ate delicious fresh veggies, salads, salmon, clams and other local delights; my brother is, seriously, a wonderful cook and a great all-around guy. He even forgave me for setting off his house alarm early one morning. (It’s quite loud, believe me!)
A Bigger Surprise
The one surprising (to me) thing about Oregon is the state’s liberal marijuana laws. You can legally smoke it in your home and you can grow up to four plants in your yard as long as they are hidden from public view. Head shops (dispensaries) abound, but many tokers are baby-boomers who grow it in their yards and roll their own. Awesome. I didn’t have the chance to try any, and I’m not sure I would have, even if I had been offered some. It’s been more than 30 years since I’ve partaken of the herb, and I’m not sure if I’d want to start again. But, who knows?
OK, that’s Oregon. Next post I’ll write about the few days I had in Montana. See you then.