Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hank Plank & the 2x4's - Portland, OR

from Bill...

Debby and I had been to Portland, once before, for a wedding. We stayed at a hotel in the city and got to do a little exploring on public transportation. We liked what we found there and were looking forward to going back in the RV. Debby also needed to fly to LA to visit her daughter, and Portland was the best place for her to fly from. We packed up Bebe and headed north to Vancouver, Washington, where we had found an RV park called 99 RV Park conveniently located on Route 99 near the Portland Airport.

Fortunately, we were travelling on a Sunday, so the drive through Portland on the interstate wasn't too awful. I really dislike driving through cities because of the traffic, unfamiliar roads, aggressive drivers, and the fact that the lane I’m in almost always gets scraped off and I have to merge my big ass over. Thankfully, Portland isn't a big city so getting through it was easy.

99 RV Park was a nicely maintained park with a few long-term residents and we got a pull-through site at the end of the row, so getting in was a piece of cake. We were considering staying an extra day so we inquired about the availability of our site for that day when we checked in. Unfortunately, someone had our site booked for a week beginning the day we wanted it so the manager told us she could get us into a spot, but we’d have to move. We put off that decision until the next day on the way to the airport when we decided to go ahead and do it.

Our friends Maria and Brian showed up, after hours, on the day Debby left and got a spot in the park. It’s always fun to see them on the road and to see “our” dogs, Buddha and Ernie. I went with them the next morning to check them in and extend our stay, little realizing how difficult that would be. It reminded me of working at Tahoe Valley Campground in July when the place was packed. 

The manager was out and a workamper in her late 70’s was working at the counter. I could tell right away, she wasn’t comfortable with computers or the campground’s reservation system. Watching her trying to make the reservation was like watching my Mom wrestle with her new iPhone; it was a bit frustrating for everyone. I told her which site the manager had told us we could move to, but she was having a very difficult time booking the reservation, even though the computer said the site was open for us; eventually the manager returned and took over.

When she started to book the site she said, “Oh, that’s John’s site, one of our long-term residents. He’s probably going to come in later today and extend his stay.” Rather than wait for him to come in, she called him and sure enough he wanted another week, so we had a dilemma. After about half an hour of waiting patiently, though, the manager decided to put the people that were coming into our site somewhere else, and we got to stay the extra day without moving—well worth the wait. But, I did picture our TVC managers, Joel, Jamaica, and Billy, working magic on our reservation system to fit everyone in when it seemed impossible.

One of the things we've been doing since going on the road is visiting my long-lost friends and family. In Portland, I may have made my most obscure reconnection. On a dark and stormy night back around 1998, I stopped by Hollywood Alley in Mesa, Arizona, to listen to some live music on my way home from a Phoenix Hash House Harriers mismanagement meeting; Hank Plank and the 2X4s were playing. They were wearing huge foam cowboy hats and jump suits and playing some fun music that was a blend between rock, bluegrass, and a little bit of country. After they finished their gig, they asked if anyone could put them up for the night so they wouldn't have to drive to Las Vegas. I invited them to my place, which was just down the road, and they packed up their stuff and came over. We stayed up listening to Pink Floyd and watching the Wizard of Oz and having a great time. They departed early the next morning and left me a CD and a T-shirt. At the time, the members of the band were all from Portland, OR. When I realized we’d be going to Portland, I started searching the internet to see if they were playing. The band had split up, but somehow I managed to contact Matt Plank, the band’s founder, who fondly remembered the night at my house and we arranged to meet at a local bar where a bluegrass band was playing. Brian joined me and we met Matt at the bar. He was wearing a Hank Plank t-shirt so he was easy to spot. We had a fun time listening to the music and catching up on the last 15 years. Later he invited us to his place where we met his wife and continued the party. Debby took a cab in from the airport and got to meet Matt and his wife and then drive Brian and I home at midnight. I’m wondering if Matt Plank and I might be bad for each other’s health. At least we only get together every 15 years or so.

On Wednesday we went for a walk with Maria and Brian and the dogs. The walk was pretty standard fare for hashers—a few false trails, ignoring the “No Dogs” sign in a park, a little shiggy, and the discovery of a natural foods market just down the street from our park. After the walk, Debby went to the market to stock up for the next leg of our adventure, which would take us to the Oregon coast.

Thai Dinner with M&B in Vancouver, WA

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