Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Road Babe Dispatch From Oregon

We arrived in Portland before sunset, just in time to enjoy a few glasses of wine with my step-brother before the light disappeared from the sky. It was Voigner, a delicious white (which is a rare find because I never drink white). We parboiled then baked purple and gold and red potatoes in garlic and olive oil. We prepared fresh asparagus and a salad while Chuck grilled flank steak. We felt royal. After dinner, Eddie and Chuck broke out guitars to play me some Neil Young and Dylan tunes.

Another bottle was fetched and the good times continued. I think Eddie was in shock - not from the earsplitting hangover he nursed from Seattle, but because he and Chuck clicked so well. Music buff? Check. Nature lover? Check. Spiritual? Check. Photographer? Check. Sweet mint-condition old Porsche in the garage but drives a VW bus instead? Check. They were smitten. As far as I was concerned, Thursday existed but didn't. It happened but felt like it hadn't.

One of the many things I share with my step-brother is a love for volunteer work. The following morning, we headed out to work with an organization called Loaves and Fishes that delivers food to elderly or handicapped folks. Next, we went to Reed College (alma mater of the brilliant yet misogynistic Gary Snyder who was one of the greatest poetic influences on my writing and spirituality) for another volunteering experience with a mentor program. It was a nature walk with 1st graders. Chuck mentors a beautiful Korean girl named Ouan with an enormous smile. All the children were delighted to have my dog Shakespeare along for the hike.

Next, we headed to Washington Park to see the rose gardens, which were blooming in every color and fragrance imaginable. Some are cultivated for their color, while others for their shape or size and still others for their aroma. As William Shakespeare said, “Of all the flowers, the rose is by far the most righteously awesome” - or something like that. The sun peppered my face with freckles as we hiked up to Pattock Mansion for a view of Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helens.

After that, we walked through the Arboretum examining conifers from around the world. The monkey puzzle was most interesting to me with its sharp pointed leaves to keep monkeys off the branches. Down time was in order, so Chuck redirected us to my personal nerdy heaven: Powell’s City of Books – a full block and 4 stories high of nothing but books where we spent the next few hours. Got so excited I had to change pants. We wrapped it all up at the Oak Bottom Pub, a burger joint with the killer micro-brew Dick’s IPA. A sign on the wall read, “Once things reach the bottom, they start looking up.” Since I'd contemplated killing Eddie only days before, I found it quite appropriate.

Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.


  1. I'll definitely have to check out Portland! I haven't been through there.

  2. You would love it, William. It's got everything a funky, earth-conscious city should and it's surrounded with spectacular nature.