Did I mention I loved Seattle?
Well as if to ice the cake – yesterday morning the usual fight at the car rental company was completely effortless. You will NOT guess how this went:
Me: Good Morning. Sorry we are a bit early but we have a rental for 12 pm.
Alamo Rental Girl: Oh dear! There’s normally a charge for that. Let me see what I can do.
Me (to myself): Here we go….
Alamo Rental Girl: That seems to be fine. You are aware of the one way charge though?
Me: Eh … yes.
Note: I am not remotely tense at this moment because the $250 I had to pay in Vancouver I later discovered was originally quoted as being only $40, and after an excellent response from my holiday company the balance will be refunded on my return and so will any difference in this one way payment. So I thought – bring in on!
Alamo Rental Girl: Now I see you have booked a tiny little totty car made of left-over plastic bottle tops and propelled with an elastic band….
Me (almost about to interrupt): I …
Alamo Rental Girl: Would you be interested in an upgrade FREE OF CHARGE?
Me: I’m confused – you mean at NO EXTRA COST?
Alamo Rental Girl: Yes but I’m afraid it’s a Ford Mustang and only holds two people.
Me (anxiously counting me and my wife and sweating profusely when my confused mind comes up with three point six): I … er….
Wife: It’s just the two of us.
Alamo Rental Girl: That’s good. There is another small problem.
Me (here we go!): Yeeessss….?
Alamo Rental Girl: It’s a convertible – but I think you might be able to suffer that when you get into the glorious weather of California in the next couple of days.
Me: Yes I think we could suffer that.
Alamo Rental Girl: OK that’s all arranged for you and I have managed to reduce the one way return fee to under $200.
So with no further haggling over anything we went into the parking lot to view our Black California Plate Ford Mustang Convertible. There was a scary moment when we thought we might not get our suitcases into the damn thing and my poor lady was going to have to take the bus, but we persevered and off we went chuffed to bits.
We named her Trixy (after my sister who has sworn me to never reveal I call her that) and noticed that she already had a personalised plate. What a stroke of luck!
I’ll admit to a few nerves navigating out of Seattle in this car – especially when the Satnav kept dropping out due to the skyscrapers – but once on the open road it was just amazing. The fact that the speedometer measures ‘Ground Speed’ tells you all you need to know about this vehicle.
And we get to take her all the way to San Francisco.
Oh I know it’s a return and the rental company aren’t really doing me any favours. I’m saving them fuel money returning it for them and they get my one-way fee to boot. But they could have chosen someone else. They chose me.
Yeah yeah … and my wife …
I told you Seattle is a great city.
In actual fact the rain put a bit of a damper on the drive to Portland (not that much though) and we were scheduled to arrive at our hotel late afternoon.
Lunch on the way was in the city of Kelso in Cowlitz County. It was rough and ready, it was big and tasty though.
It was KFC.
Not KFC like our British version though. KFC out West in the USA is proper KFC.
Our hotel was on the outskirts of Portland in a place called Gresham, and we decided that this was a day we would just have to write off as a ‘travel and planning day’. We had some of the best scenery in the West Coast to travel through today and we wanted to be sure we chose the right route to Bend. We also had a mountain of washing to attend to and, with this hotel having a guest laundry, it had to be done.
After the chores we felt underwhelmed at the idea of a big feast so settled for a short trip across the street to get some juice and ice creams.
This morning we consumed something that the hotel claimed to be breakfast and set off early on our journey. The first leg was to take us to a place called Hood River which is east along the Columbia River. Hood is a reference to Mount Hood which overlooks most of this area and was named after someone whose name was Hood (isn’t it marvellous the education you get here!). It is a quaint little town with sloping streets that all seem to terminate along the riverside and start up amongst the pine trees. We visited a Saturday market and bought some home-made doggie biscuits to take home to Harry.
The journey then continued to Government Camp which is a ski town right on the shoulder of Mount Hood. There is also a pretty stunning wood lodge hotel at the ski area, Timberline Lodge, and it is well worth the visit just to see the views down the valley, and the incredible lodge itself.
We ate lunch in the village of Government Camp (named after someone found a government camp there). Our fare was of German origin for some strange reason, at a local Oktoberfest themed pub called Glacier House. The menu looked pretty good so we stepped inside and were advised that – because it was pretty damn close to October (really, really close in fact) – the nice menu was off and the new Oktoberfest-not-quite-so-nice-but-a-damn-sight-more-expensive menu was on. I had bratwurst with sauerkraut while my good lady had roast pork with sauerkraut. We asked if there was anything without sauerkraut in it and we were told the schweinshaxe with sauerkraut only has a little sauerkraut in it at which point ten Vikings dressed in lederhosen leapt out of the back kitchen and started singing sauerkraut, sauerkraut, sauerkraut … until I had to tell them to shut up.
As it was I thoroughly enjoyed the bratwurst with sauerkraut and most of the pork too because German food doesn’t agree with my good lady. Neither do Vikings dressed in lederhosen for that matter.
It was much too expensive at $42 for what it was.
We travelled on to a place called Madras but passed right through because there is nothing really in the place. The landscape changes were pretty dramatic though as we descended the slopes of Mount Hood and headed into the desert area around Madras. It got quite hot and we finally got the chance to take the top off the car. It wasn’t quite as hot as we first thought though and instead of looking cool on arrival we looked bloody freezing.
We also stopped to watch some people doing bungee jumping and resolved that one of our party will do this before the trip ends.
Our home for the night, Bend , takes us halfway down Oregon and this is a much prettier place. There are a few things here for us to explore in the morning but our arrival was too late to consider anything more today. We looked at a shopping area called Old Mills but you can find this pretty much anywhere in the world. Our dinner was waffle cones with ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s because the sauerkraut was still returning on us. Over and over and over …. sauerkraut, sauerkraut, sauerkraut…