You know you travel too much when the alarm goes off the morning of a big trip, and the first thought that comes to your mind is “…@*&%#$!” Yep…another early flight out of San Diego. Actually, this was my first trip in about two months so I’m not really sure why I felt this way. Well, I do like to sleep! Anyway, out of bed and into the shower in a flash and soon out the door to catch a USA cab to terminal 1 at SAN. It’s so nice to live downtown, as I can make it to the airport in about five minutes Check-in was flawless, and I managed two window seats for the two flights up to PDX. UA was doing something new with their shuttle flights, which I kind of liked: Zone 1 (which I had) was to board the plane from the rear (outside). Nice! Everything was on schedule, and I grabbed my seat (15F) just behind the wing.
By the way, here is my full flight itinerary for this trip:
07/10/99 United Shuttle 737-300 San Diego to San Francisco
07/10/99 United Shuttle 737-300 San Francisco to Portland
07/11/99 United Shuttle 737-300 Portland to San Francisco
07/11/99 United Shuttle 737-300 San Francisco to San Diego
It was a nice climb out of SAN, with some spectacular views of the southern California coastline. So nice, in fact, that I decided it was a Kodak moment at it’s finest.
The landing and transfer at SFO was completely routine, and I was soon on my way up to PDX. As we were descending into Portland, I was a little surprised about how flat the terrain seemed. Hilly, yes, but still not what I had imagined it to be. Pretty though, that’s for sure. Pine trees everywhere. My first impression of PDX was a good one, and I was surprised at its new and modern look. But the feelings of hunger quickly sidetracked my brain. I found a Wendy’s in the same concourse as my flight, so I just decided on that. Yes, I did feel a little guilty about a burger and fries for lunch, especially since I wasn’t planning very much exercise over the next two days. Oh well. I was on vacation.
After gorging myself, it was off to find my rental car. The walk was a nervous one…I had only a temporary drivers license, because I had just applied for a California license. Would Budget accept it? I was praying like mad they would, as most of my plans for the next day involved lots of driving. It was like slow motion after the guy at the Budget counter asked to see my license…as I put the piece of paper in front of him, I was looking closely for his reaction. To my delight, he only hesitated at first and then took the paper without hardly any question. Whew. To make things even better, turns out he had a bright red 1999 Mustang available. It didn’t take much arm twisting to get me into that car. Hell yea I’d pay an extra $8 for it! Things were looking up…now that I had a cool car, I had to take it for a long drive. And what better than the ocean? It would be a two hour drive, but I figured it would be a good one. I was right. The drive out of Portland was pretty, then it got flat and open all of a sudden as I ventured onto westbound 26.
It really reminded me of Ohio. But there were mountains in the distance. And I was headed right toward them. What a gorgeous drive! Cool car, cool scenery, and I was headed for the ocean…life couldn’t get much better. Quickly glancing at my map during the occasional straight stretch in the road, I decided that my destination would be a little town called Seaside (just north of 26). I slowly ventured into town, and one of my first sights was a Motel 6. Yes! A possible hide out for the evening. It was an interesting little town, but I just wanted to see the coast…I wanted to see what the pacific northwest beaches were all about. After driving around for a while looking for a parking spot, I parked the Mustang and started to walk down to the beach. As I glanced back at my shiny new ride, I noticed something really scary: the front end had scratches all the way across! Yikes. I then thought about how stupid I was not to notice and report that before I left the rental car lot. Dammit – I could be charged for the repairs, and I had no way to prove that I didn’t do it. Thinking that I’d just have to cross that bridge if I came to it, I walked down to the beach. I wasn’t impressed with what I saw.
To the north, the look and feel was very “east coast” with the bright white sand and long grass growing out from it in spots. But to the south, there were hills and cliffs separating the land from the water…a little more like what I had expected. I ‘m so spoiled with the southern California beaches! Quickly losing interest, I decide that Seaside would not be my destination for the evening. I’d drive down the coast a little, and then head back to Portland to spend the night. I hopped back into the scarred Mustang and drove south to the next town of Cannon Beach. It didn’t take long to change my mind about Oregon beaches as I drove along the coastline for a few miles. Big open beaches, rugged surf, and rugged rock formations. Simply beautiful!!
After grabbing a few pictures, I decided it was time to make the drive back to Portland. The drive back seemed to go a lot faster than the initial drive out, and I reached Beaverton by about 6:30pm.
By the second or third exit, there were lots of hotel and food signs, so I decided to exit and see what I could find. It was so strange, because it was laid out almost exactly like North Fairfield road in Dayton (my old stomping grounds right after college). Flash back city! First, there was a really expensive looking Radisson. It looked REALLY expensive so I just drove on by. A little way down the road, there was a Courtyard by Marriott that looked expensive, but not as extravagant as the hotel before. “What the hell,” I thought, and I pulled in to find out what I could get a room for that night. I got pretty lucky, three times over. First, the receptionist was really cute. Second, they had a lot of rooms available at only $69 a night. And to top it all off, the room was very cool. Big, new, and cable TV. I was having a good day. After a quick freshening up, I was glued to MTV watching an episode of Road Rules.
After the show, I was thinking about nothing except for food, so I was off in search of a good meal. I ended up at a Subway just down the road. After dinner, I decided to take a quick drive around to explore the surrounding areas. I went east, west, north and south. I didn’t see anything cool, but it sure was fun driving that Mustang around. The sun was starting to set behind the mountains in the distance, and I decided I’d call it a night. As I was pulling into my hotel, an Alice in Chains tune came on over the radio. Not wanting to get out of the car, I drove past the driveway a little and continued on down the deserted road with the windows open, the stereo cranked, enjoying the cool, crisp summer evening. I was having flashbacks from summers in the Midwest. It was a little after 9pm, the sun was going down, yet the clean air was still warm with an occasional cold pocket. Another great tune came on after Alice, and it seemed so perfect…good music, cool car, and a gorgeous July evening. I ended up just cruising for a while, and eventually made it back to my hotel by about 9:45pm. What a perfect end to a perfect day. I watched an episode of the Real World on MTV before falling asleep by 11pm.
The alarm blasted in my ear at 7:30am, and I eventually rolled out of bed by 8:30. It was looking to be a gorgeous morning in Portland, so I quickly went through the shower routine and was out the door. Back into the Mustang, I was headed for downtown Portland. I have to say that it is a very nice city. A little small, actually, but very nice. It was early on a Sunday morning, so traffic was light as I drove around and checked things out. I eventually found the heart of everything with all the stores and cafes, so I parked the car to get out and walk around. I ended up sitting for a while in a busy courtyard in the heart of downtown, just watching the people go by.
There was some sort of a sand sculpture contest taking place, so that whole area of the city was packed with people. Many tourists too, foreign and domestic. I ended up sitting there until almost 11am, and then decided I had better head to the airport then if I wanted to grab a bite to eat before my flight.
Getting out of downtown Portland was a little frustrating, but I eventually found my way to PDX. And just like a bad dream, a Budget employee immediately noticed the front end of my car as I pulled into the rental lot and came over for a closer look. Nothing was said, and she went back to what she was doing. I didn’t know what to think at that point. Does that mean that I’m going to have a little surprise waiting for me on my next Visa bill? Now there’s something to look forward to. I tried to put it out of my mind and made my way into the terminal. First things first, it was time to eat! I was starving, so nearly anything would do. I found a little Mexican place, and enjoyed my lunch at a table facing outward into the interior of the terminal for a good round of people watching. I waited a bit for the flight, but was soon aboard and on my way to SFO. The only thing worth mentioning about the flights home was a missed approach into SFO from PDX. It seemed that we were coming in really high, and then the engines spooled up and we went around for another try. The pilot said it was a congestion problem on the runway. But the armchair pilot in me called BS on that one. We were simply way to high. Anyway, I made it home alive.
I arrived into SAN around 6:30pm, and again I was bitten by the hunger bug. Good ‘ol Rubio’s to the rescue. During dinner I decided that since it looked to be so gorgeous outside, that I’d try walking home. It was absolutely perfect. It took about an hour, but it was a wonderful walk.
The perfect end to a perfect weekend of travel.