Greg took me to Safeway, where I bought a huge pastry for 99 c and fantastic coffee, to which I added 'half and half' thinking this must be a low fat alternative, when in fact it means half cream. Unusually you had to pay for refills, but because the guy at the till made a mistake with the cash register and I was from Scotchland an' all, he gave us the second cup for free. I don't understand a lot of the behaviour here, but I like it. Greg filled me in on the political system here, which is nearly as complicated as football, with all the layers (governors, senators, mayors, councillors) and they even vote in their judges. I haven't met any Republicans yet and like in the UK, everyone believes Obama will be the next Pres. They also seem to be of the opinion McCain is just like Bush and Palin is not up to the job and would go to war with anyone at the drop of a hat.
Took my leave of this gentle guy and crossed the Columbia River into Oregon, which is somewhat akin to crossing the Firth of Forth, as it's 1.5 miles across a magnificent iron bridge. Views of belching industry and millions of logs waiting patiently to be shipped someplace, but no 'long view' of Mounts St Helens or Rainier due to poor visibility. Saw more dead wildlife along Highway 30 – a deer and a grey cat-sized creature with black eye patches (a raccoon?) Picked up a beat-up nail brush, as this is one item that has been lacking from bathrooms and I like to have clean fingernails. Must have been an old crocks' rally going on because I saw a lot of gleaming 'Anthill Mob' type cars, although my favourite was a mat royal blue one. A VW van with The Grateful Dead painted on it went by also. I wonder how many of them there are in America? Generally there are many Hell's Angel type bikers on the roads too. It's 2008, but not in these people's minds.
Stopped to pick up a sandwich in a supermarket in St Helens, where the smallest one was still pretty big and the biggest was the size of a loaf. Perused the endless varieties of candy, in search of something I knew and asked a girl if she knew of American Hard Gums. She looked at me like I was a kiddy fiddler and hadn't heard of them – maybe you only get them in Britain... Chose 'Spice Drops', which looked similar, but they tasted medicinal and that's not really what I go for in a sweet, although they had a mouthwash quality. Ate the tasty, thick sandwich on a hillock the other side of Skappoose, overlooking Highway 30 which had now busied up with Saturday traffic.
Turned up Cornelius Pass, which was uphill, so took my jumper off and wrapped it round my waist so I could sit on it, much to my bottom's relief. It was three miles up and then two miles down, so I prayed I hadn't made a wrong turning again. So many huge vehicles. I've often thought of having a T shirt printed with the words 'Get a bigger car' on the back. I don't think a lot of Americans would get the thinly veiled sarcasm though and would say “Where are these big cars this guy's selling, I don't see a phone number.” Came off the route Greg had worked out for me, and also off the crappy map in Hillsboro, a mere suburb of Portland and yet home to 80,000 souls. They're good at telling you populations and altitudes, but not anything useful like how to get anywhere.
Somehow fluked it to my destination, Bell Road, which is South West of Portland and all uphill. Some bits of it were steep and other bits were crazy steep. Saw a dead skunk (no bad smell though?) and some kind of blue bird with a ruff, which might have been a jay, according to my host, Rich, who had a passing facial resemblance to Clint Eastwood, and along with his wife Polly, lived in a pretty big house with magnificent views (that hill had to be good for something). They belonged to the Portland Scrabble Club, which is how I came across them. Polly was a nurse and Rich used to have a marketing job, but was now retired. Polly toiled in the 'cookery programme' style kitchen, gave me a cream soda and Rich beat me at my chosen game, even though I played UTILIZED (only 70). Dinner was a highly flavoursome Mexican themed, vegetarian affair, with Oregonian beer and wrapped up with blackberries from their yard and ice cream. They had four acres, and four chickens which laid an egg each a day. Next up it was Polly's turn to beat me at Scrabble and then Rich decided to make it three losses for yours truly. They were all quite good games, but I had a few words disallowed, like LATTISED, which was a bit silly, yet also EEN and LAH, which are both acceptable plays in my language. I had played EEN with CHEESY, which would have scored 60+ had it been allowed. I could had CHESTY/SEN and I chestiness wins over cheesiness any day in my book. They were good players though, I'll grudgingly give them that. Rich wanted to add insult to injury with a fourth loss for poor old me, but no, it was time for bed. I'd cycled 76 miles today and about ten of those had been unnecessary ones.
In the morning discovered that as well as my bedroom, there were no curtains on the bathroom windows. Interesting... Polly cooked up the most delicious fried eggs I have had in my entire life, from the chickens in their back yard. We put the world to rights this morning at the kitchen table, overlooking a hazy, lush rural idyll. Polly is liberal, but Rich is a little more conservative, which I think means he is Republican. Polly is aghast at Sarah Palin vetoing a woman's right to have an abortion and also her acceptance of school's teaching creationism and not teaching sex education, especially as she has so many children and one of them has been in trouble for taking drugs. They met through their beloved board game and both play at tournaments still, although Polly chooses the locations o0f the competitions based on whether there is sightseeing. They take a lot of vacations, especially cruises, where they play Scrabble continuously on board the boat. Rich told me about a woman who dressed in leather at tournaments and another who showed a lot of cleavage. This was possibly part of their tactics, although the cleavagey lady was getting on now, so it was more off putting than distracting for her male opponents. i was given a quick tour of the three acre property, overlooking vineyards and Mount Hood, when it isn't so misty. They have fruit trees, a goldfish pond and I was also introduced to the hens, where it seemed there was rivalry as we came across a broken egg.