Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 5: 8/4

DUNCAN: Emerging from our tent in Humbug National Park, we stretched out, cooked up a quick breakfast of oatmeal on our camp stove, packed up, and hit the road, our ultimate goal for the day being the city of Portland. A couple hours after we set out up the 101 along the Oregon coast, I spotted a billboard that advertised a “walk-through safari” coming up in 10 miles and displayed a picture of a tiger. We doubted the place’s legitimacy, but decided to make the stop anyway, even if it was just to check it out. Horea pulled up reviews of the West Coast Game Park on his phone, and we were surprised to find them all extremely positive. One review even claimed that visitors got to pet a baby tiger. Now this was an opportunity we simply could not afford to miss.
We arrived there a little while later and paid the $ 16 entry fee. As we entered the park itself, we were immediately greeted by an exceedingly amiable, curious ring tailed lemur in a cage by the door. It loved human contact and even licked our hands as we pet it. It was like playing with a dog with a person’s hands. We explored the rest of the park (which was really more like a petting zoo) and discovered a plethora of animals. Here’s a list of just some of the park’s animals listed on its website:

African Serval Cat
Barbados Sheep

Black Buck Antelope

Chinese Muntijac
DeBrazza's Monkeys

Peccari Boar
South American Rhea

Silver Fox
Snow Leopard
White Skunk

And that was only some of them. Needless to say, it was an amazing experience, especially seeing as we were allowed to touch about half of the creatures listed above, and yes, that did include a 15-week-old baby leopard. Highlights included blowing raspberries back and forth with a chimpanzee and getting spit at by a lama. After about an hour, we once again piled in the car and headed north.

The Oregon coast was pretty, but not as breathtaking as California’s. We passed miles and miles of sand dunes and evergreen forests. At one point we stopped to see Oregon’s famous sea-lion caves, but were saddened to find the place egregiously commercialized. You had to pay close to twenty dollars to even go down to the caverns, so, with a collective sigh of disappointment, we got back in the car and left. Our only other stops before Portland were at a scenic beach to check our oil and take some pictures, and then at another beach just outside of Lincoln City to take a farewell dip in the Pacific Ocean before we set out eastward. The water was absolutely freezing.
Portland was something else. I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. We checked into a Motel 6 ten miles away from downtown at around 9:30 and, after we had snuck all three of us and our luggage into our two-person room, we left for the city. Upon arrival we searched urgently for something to fill our starving bellies, which proved to be a difficult task seeing as it was already eleven o’clock and, bars excluded, pretty much everything was closed. As we roamed the streets, we got a taste of Portland’s very unique and bustling nightlife. Hoards of attractive young people raged in bars and clubs, and packs of crossfaded hobos smoked joints and partied out on the sidewalks. There were a lot of different sorts of people out that night, but Raffi pointed out that there seemed to be an indefinable factor that unified them all, desolate runaways and shined-up, indie-looking yuppies alike. And he was right. Each in their own way, they all contributed to the unique collection of idiosyncrasies and clashes that make Portland such a weird and wonderful place. They were all there for their own reasons, damn good ones, too, and they wanted to make that crystal clear to everyone around them.
We eventually found a gyro cart that was still open, and after watching the flamboyant Greek guy that ran the place repeatedly wipe his runny nose on the back of his hand as he made our food, we wolfed down our meals and walked around some more. We came across a corner store w.ith a line going out the door, and walked over to investigate what could pull such a crowd at 12 p.m. Turns out it was the world-famous Voodoo Donuts, so we got in line to try some of the renowned pastries. As we waited, we were serenaded by a musical banjo/guitar/accordion trio of post-apocalyptic gypsies. That is, they looked like how I’d imagine post-apocalyptic gypsies would look. We ate some delicious donuts and then headed back to our motel room. Day 5: totally gnarkill.

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