I must admit, I am an avid people watcher. Some days I look around and project personas on to people, insert dialogue into distant moving mouths, or just stare in awe or disbelief at the hot mess before me. Sometimes, I even talk to them! Imagine that.
To me, talking to strangers is like playing black jack. You never know what might happen, but if you know the basics then you stand a pretty good chance of having something good happen. Did I say good? Well, at least something… interesting.
Walking around Seattle Center, one such instance manifested.
Valería and I were putting our cameras to work when we stumbled into another wandering individual with a really nice camera. We made some small talk about cameras, and after that the stranger asked us for some insight with which we were glad to be of help. The conversation kept flowing, and before we knew it we were all pretty well acquainted.
Some time passed and it was time to move along. We extended an invitation to our new friend, Ryan, and the three of us walked further to see what else Seattle had to offer.
The hours passed and it was getting late. Valería and I had no place to stay lined up for the evening yet. To our surprise, our new friend told us about his situation. He was in town for a job interview, had a free hotel for a few nights, and had a sofa bed to offer us.
What would you do? Would you trust a total stranger without any way of checking his character? Would you ante up and take the gamble? Most people wouldn’t even think about it. However, we are not most people.
We took the gamble. As it turned out, the payout was big. Ryan was not only one of the friendlier human beings I’ve met thus far, but his knowledge of photography was energizing. The experience turned out to be somewhat of a catalyst for me to upgrade my photo equipment. It was truly an honor to meet him.
The next day, we got lost in the city, spent some time in the photography store and found some delicious Seattle coffee. Later on we met back up with some couchsurfers that we met in Portland and had some drinks and music, and debauchery.
The city seemed to be calling us. With Valería’s travels coming to an end soon, we had one more day to celebrate. So we did what they do in Portland. Food trucks, drinks and Voodoo Doughnut!
…Then you get…
…And you leave feeliing like…
…But you do it anyway.
We had our last hoorah, and the next day my partner in crime hopped on a 747 and began her departure back to Germany. Once again, I was on my own. But I never seem to be to far from company.
I made my way to the Japanese Garden.
I was welcomed to the home of another new friend, whom I had met during our first visit to Portland. Erin was a creative soul who’s hospitality saved me. Just as I had finished eating, the weather started to get miserable. The rain came.
I swung by Erin’s house and was pleasantly surprised. She lived with a few other roommates, and they were all artists in one way or another. In fact, the home was owned by a very successful artist, whose own home was located on the same lot, in the back yard of the house I was at.
The backyard was affectionately referred to as “The Best Spot in Portland,” and I can’t say I’d disagree!
Again, I was floored by the hospitality and kindness of strangers. Who were these people? Why did they welcome me as one of their own? Did they really not want anything from me? If you watch the news, then it’s almost hard to believe that there are still just plain good people in this world. But there are, and they are everywhere.
Portland has a plethora of micro brews, craft beer and delicious food. Erin lead me to a spot called Breakside Brewery to test the local fare.
While staying in Portland with my new friends, I learned a lot about the culture of the city. I even got to make it to a blues dance lesson and open dance night in a kitschy little venue that was very lounge-like.
Kicking around the city was great. All together, I stayed in Portland for 6 nights and Seattle for 3, and I absolutely loved it. But in the final days, the rain came, and it came hard.
I must admit, the title made me laugh.
Sunday, I hit the road in the middle of torrential downpours. To say it was nasty would be an understatement. The weather was mostly beautiful while I was in the Pacific Northwest, but those last two or three days were a monsoon. Driving out was nothing less than treacherous, I even hydroplaned a few times.
With the sky blotted out from storm clouds and the windshield glazed over with rain water, the rain looked like it would never stop. And so I kept driving…