Shawn picks me up at Marcel and Geri’s. We’ve got some time before my train departs . He drives me to dinner at a swank little pub, the Chop Bar, near Jack London Square. Then we jump over to Alameda to get some food for the trip at a natural food market. Jump. Rather, fly. I’m shocked by the speed of the car over the freeways, on ramps, off ramps, city streets. What would have taken me an hour or more to ride is passed in minutes. I’m feeling a bit queasy. Life at 10mph has ill prepared me for the “normal” pace of the petro-lifestyle that I’m returning to.
The train is no more comfortable. I feel the rocking of the cars in the tracks. Swaying back and forth, as the train hurtles forward, like a ship on the waves. The Amtrak north on all my other tours has been relaxing, seemed the right speed to cover the 1000 miles home. I’m not so sure this time. Did I do something differently this time? Rachet my internal clock further down, closer to the true pace of life? I note that this trip, I avoided most mass transit through the cities, rode more distance solely by pedal power. But there’s also something about my emotional speed. I’ve slowed there too. Moods are more stable. Not always swinging up and down, down and up. A relief!
The Coast Starlight makes good time north, and I’m suddenly approaching Portland. An hour before sunset! I’m off the train, taking my bike out of the box, reattaching the pedals, loading my bags. I head over the Common Ground for a soak in the spa. Feels divine after the long, grimy train ride. Then over to a friend’s house, where we chat a bit before she heads out to get groceries. I am exhausted, fall asleep in the guest room, which feels warm, inviting. So nice to sleep in a bed, in a house with central heat.
The next day, I’m up and out, off to meet another friend for coffee, I am relaxed, telling tales of the journey, reflecting on my current state. This feels different. No anxiety. I meet my brother David for lunch, Sushi Land! We talk shop, small businesses, retaining customers. All about personal relationships. I spend time in a cafe writing my blog, then over to the City of Books to pick up a little light reading: Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, Frederick von Nietzsche. Yeah, beat generation, and existentialism. I’m ready to dig in again, see what these writers had to say, decades ago, a century ago. About life, relationship, place, time.
I’m heading out in the morning, to visit my folks in McMinnville then a mad dash to Lincoln City and Newport, like last year. Except better weather. And a better pace. I was nervous about returning to Corvallis, to the stresses and complexity of my situation there. But this side trip to Portland has helped me transition. A soft landing.