No Wrong Turns: Portland’s Powell’s, Ponies and Police

After a harrowing drive from Calgary to Vancouver due to ice, snow, and psychotic truck drivers, Tom and I managed to make it to Vancouver to visit with family and get one more vaccine for our trip.

Next up was Portland, Oregon. But we had to cross the US border and play nice with the officers. The conversation that took place in the car before went like this:

Me: “Ok, so I know they ask all sorts of personal questions but it is their country.”
Tom: “I know, I know, but I hate telling them stuff.”
Me: “I know, but you cannot refuse to answer questions or be difficult, they can send us home.”
Tom: “I KNOW!”
Me: “Kill ‘em with kindness.”

Fortunately all went well at the border. They did make us pull over and go inside, but I think that was because Tom carries a New Zealand passport, not a Canadian. He had to fill out some random card that asks if you were a Nazi (even if you were, would you answer yes?), get fingerprinted, and have a photo taken that apparently will remain on file forever. Tom was pretty pissed about having things on file forever but that seems to be how the US rolls these days. Really, who can blame them? On the plus side the officer who helped us was really nice. I am not sure if that is any consolation for Tom.

We arrived in Portland late at night after managing not to be killed by the speedy highway drivers. Portland has a great vibe and our host was extremely pleased to have us stay there. In our wanderings we found out a few really neat things about Portland:

They have the largest independent bookstore in the world called Powell’s. It takes up a whole city block and carries both used and new books. We spent an entire afternoon perusing the aisles and barely made it past two sections.

Another interesting tidbit about Portland is its plastic ponies. You know, like the kid’s toy. They are found in older parts of Portland tied to metal rings that are embedded in the sidewalks. Back in the day these rings were used to tie one’s horse to in the city. It all started as an art project, called The Horse Project. In 2005, Scott Wayne Indiana decided that horses should be tied to these rings again. So he started tying these miniature horses to the rings, and eventually gained notoriety. The plastic ponies of Portland have stuck. Tom and I only managed to see one, though we spent lots of time looking. The website has a map of locations for those interested.

One more interesting fact about Portland: I saw police officers on Segways. Two burly guys in fluorescent-yellow jackets rolled right by us. Unfortunately I was not fast enough with my camera, because I was too busy trying not to stare and laugh. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Next up: the California Coast.

No Wrong Turns” chronicles Kelsey and her husband’s road trip — in real time — from Canada to the southern tip of South America in their trusty red VW Golf named Marlin.