Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Beer is Nice in Oregon, and So Are the People

I just blogged about preferring to crash at your place, didn't I? Be glad we didn't land on your doorstep the other night, when we derailed from our overnight train (Portland--->Oakland) in Eugene after Big Sis lost her lunch on the seat next to her, and in the aisle, and on her shirt and on my jacket AND in the plastic Amtrak kids' goody bag with the box of crayons remaining inside.

No one on the train even looked horrified. Or made that face of ewwww. I don't care where they were from; I am giving the credit to Oregon. Because besides the guy on the road who flipped off my sister, everyone in Oregon has been remarkably kind. Not disingenuous, sticky-sweet ingratiating, but nice. Like it's normal to be concerned about people and willing to go out of one's way. Even the strung-out looking woman we encountered today near the "Parole/Probations" building who was fighting with her boyfriend thoughtfully shushed him with a "there are little kids!" when she saw us coming.

When it seemed a better solution for everyone concerned that we get off the train in Eugene and hope that the 24-hour waiting period wasn't the same as incubation for next kid's bout of flu, the conductor helped reserve us places on the next night's train, and a helpful man at the depot pointed out that the Hilton was within walking distance. "It might cost you $50, though," he warned me.

If only! At least Big Sis thought the joint was "like the Disney Hotel," (where we've never stayed), and she could have a bath and throw up somewhere with towels and laundry that doesn't belong to any of our friends.

We woke up in Eugene the next morning feeling A-OK and with a day to explore before we re-boarded the train. More Oregonian helpfulness: when the hotel manager saw me plugging my cell charger into every available outlet before determining it didn't work, he promised me a functional one from the hotel's stash of left-behinds. And the bellhop offered us a ride to the train station, only three blocks away, but saving this Mama/Sherpa the agony of three blocks of whining as my daughters dragged their suitcases.

Which reminds me of a story about when I travelled to Morocco and joined a truck camping tour. Our group mates were to meet at the Iqbal Hotel after taking the plane or train to Casablanca. I arrived by air and caught a cab to the hotel. In the hotel bar that evening, members of our tour got acquainted and compared travel stories. Our Canadian friend Matt shared that he had arrived by train and hailed a taxi outside the station. His driver pointed out various Casablanca landmarks en route to our hotel, conveniently located...across the street from the train station.

"Hey...!!" exclaimed Matt to his cabbie, when he looked outside the taxi and noticed both the Iqbal and train station in his line of sight. "You didn't tell me the hotel was across the street!" The driver shrugged and demanded his fare.

Sometimes the ride is worth it (and the story to tell, too).

So glad we didn't drive to Oregon. So glad we waited a day to sleep on the train. So glad to be on this trip with my daughters.

Even if the unexpected costs of this trip make me want to throw up a little.


Kate said...

Come back!!!

anna woerman said...

Jenny- your girls will remember their Eugene detour forever! My sis and I still (to this day) talk about a similar plane delay that led to us (elementary school age) staying at the O'Hare Hilton with our mom, walking in an underground tunnel to the hotel where we saw human excrement, ordering pizza in a hotel room, and sleeping in our clothes since our bags were checked! If all went smooth, it would have just been a blurry memory.
I love your blog posts! :)