Monday, June 27, 2011

Where's the Bicycle Park?

I think that's the phrase I've heard most here in Portland because everyone rides a bike here and every place of business has a place to park and lock bikes.

Well, I've been in Portland for about a month now and whoa is this place for me.  My first thoughts were that this city is a lot like Boulder, but in Metropolitan form.  There are even "Keep Portland Weird" bumper stickers, which I saw first in Boulder.  Residing all within the same city limits are hippies, yuppies, naturalists, liberals and businessmen.  Strip clubs are hidden around the corners across from Buddhist temples and yoga studios.  People are proud of their locally produced products and there not only are recycling trash days, but compost days too.  The level of friendliness is off the radar here (I suspect because winters are rainy and dreary and everyone has to find a way to keep warm), but the summers are mild and happy.  All and all, I haven't wasted a day of my unemployed bliss here in Portland; there's been A LOT to explore.

The great thing about Portland is that you can be shopping at the mall one minute and find yourself walking amid old giants the next, secluded from all city life.  The parks that lie within Portland totally take you away from the city streets and hide you among tall trees and flourishing ferns.  It really is incredible.  So far I've visited Tryon State Park and Forest Park.

I've also ridden my bike quite a bit along bike paths that take you along the river into downtown and around the city.  Biking is the best way to get around in a new one honks their horns at you.

I've gotten up above the city for a view of the volcanoes you can see on clear days: Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier.

Oregon is also wine country and so of course we've done a wine tasting tour!  My very good friend from Tahoe, Katie, moved to Oregon and we all met to get a little tipsy.  Andrea, Omar, their friend Scott, Katie and I vineyard hopped and enjoyed the incredible views while learning about wine.

The Columbia River Gorge is also a stunning sight (only 45 mins away from Portland!) and I've only camped one night there so far and did two hikes, all spectacular enough to keep me coming back for more.

I'm also attending meditation evenings at a nearby center, which is a new experience for me. With all this free time on my hands I figured I should try to better my mind with some new practices.  I'm trying to better my health too with running and exercise, but Oregon has this damn good chocolate peanut butter ice cream from a local creamery, Tillamook, that is IMPOSSIBLE TO RESIST!!!

And living with Andrea and Omar has been amazing.  We play trivia on Wednesdays, basketball in the park, cook dinners for each other and they've gotten me hooked on LOST.  It was wonderful attending Andrea's Bridal Shower and hilarious partying at her Bachalorette party.  Her friends have adopted me and I feel quite at home here  Oregon has a balance of it all!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Tahoe

I had 3 weeks after work ended to say goodbye to the place and its people.  I allowed that much time on purpose.  Closure is very important to me and I can't sleep if I feel things are left undone or that I didn't follow through with something.  3 weeks allowed me quality time to say farewell to a place that has been my home for the last 5 years.

We were so lucky with this one!  It has still been snowing/raining in Tahoe.  I looked at the forecast and picked Friday for my goodbye bbq, hoping the sun would stay out as predicted.  And it turned out to be a perfect day! 

People started showing up coming by bike or car.  We had plenty of booze and even a vodka watermelon.  We fired up the grill and I surprised the hell out of myself when I tasted my own creation.  The secret to a good burger: agave nectar!  All my friends who were in town showed up, including the Squaw Kids crew.  There were dogs, whiffle ball, a slack line, pisco (a Chilean liquor I LOVE) and plenty of food!  People just kept showing up too; we packed it all up at 10pm and it was wonderful to have all those I love and care about in Tahoe show up to support my move and say goodbye.  I feel so blessed.

I had my fill of Tahoe grub going out with friends, either for a breaky burrito at Dam Cafe or celebrating locals month at Dragonfly sushi. 

The Squaw Kids crew (namely the supervisors, my roommate Jill and sales staff) invited me to Happy Hour at Jake's on the Lake. Jill even came back early from San Deigo for it. My boss Karen was there and this was our official 'goodbye.' I didn't want to think about it and I was so happy at who turned up for the farewell. Then they surprised me with a gift. I opened up the little jewelry box and saw a beautiful necklace of the outline of Lake Tahoe with a turquoise stone and little gem representing Emerald Bay. I have always wanted one of these iconic necklaces and my wonderful friends had all pitched in to purchase it. I couldn't read the card at the time because I knew the tears would flow. Then, to top it off, they ordered 2 hula pies! A mountain of ice cream pie with whipped cream and chocolate. I will miss my Squaw Kids friends who quickly became like family to me. Marilyn watered my plants while I was in Chile, Karen fought for a raise for me and instead I got a pair of skis, Robyn has led us all on karaoke/camping adventures, Will always has chocolate at work and he and James stored and drove my car for me while in Chile. These are the best of friends that anyone could ask blessed.

I woke up early on Saturday morning because I couldn't sleep, so I walked down to the lake to enjoy one last sunrise.  It was quite peaceful and I had time to say goodbye to the Tahoe landscape in my own little way.  I didn't feel regret, just satisfaction.

Then of course I had to sell a lot of the things I had accumulated over the last 5 years so that I could fit the essentials into my Honda Accord, so I had a big weekend yard sale.  My neighbor, boss and friends got in on it and we sold a lot in the first few hours, then it started snowing.  It snowed on Sunday so I held the sale indoors and ended up selling most of my things by Monday.  Overall, it went well and the rest went to the thrift store!  It's always good to simplify. 

As my roommate, Jill, and I were cleaning the apartment and packing up the last of our belongings, she reminded me of her softball game at 6:15.  Great!  I could cheer for the team one last time before I go.  So I went and they ended up needing another player, so I played!  It was great as I LOVE summer softball league and I got to say one last goodbye to everyone there.  At the local bar, Pete's, my name got drawn in the raffle for Hawaii and I got to relive one last summer day in Tahoe (even though it's not warm yet).

So 3 weeks turned out to be enough time to create some lasting memories and to say goodbye to Tahoe.  Honestly, I don't feel an empty place in my heart; rather, I feel totally filled to the brim.  I've taken all that I can from Tahoe and I feel totally fulfilled to have known it as I have.  It will always be there and I will always stay in contact with my friends, but it's time to move on and I couldn't be more excited!