Blues Cruise dans Rouge

July 7, 2010 at 12:35 pm (On the road again...)

Renting at the airport could not have been more convenient. I stepped off the MAX, walked about a block through the terminal, had a brief chat with a blue-haired lady at the information desk, and soon I was standing in front of the Avis counter. A pretty young lady asked, “May I help you?”

“I have a reservation for a car of some kind. Here’s my confirmation number.” I handed her a Radio Cab slip with a long string of numbers and letters.

“Okay. You have a red Toyota Corolla. Or, for about ten dollars more, you could upgrade to a Mustang?”

Hmm. I didn’t want to appear to be too deep into a mid-life crisis. “I think I’ll be cool enough with the Toyota.”

“Would you like insurance? It’s only $49 a day, and will protect you financially if anything happens to the car.”

“Insurance doesn’t come with the rental? Crap. I thought I was spending one hundred, not three hundred. I can’t afford this…”

“No, this insurance is optional, but it’s on you if anything happens to the car.”

“I’ll be careful.” Christ, now I was nervous.

“It’s in space N-11, through those doors. It’s due back Tuesday at noon. The keys are in the door. Have a great time!”

Ooooh yeah…

It was a sexy beast.

I settled in behind the wheel, adjusted the mirrors, snapped the seatbelt into place. (I remember when only pussies wore seatbelts. Now it’s Click-it-or-ticket. Ah democracy.) The radio presets were done by a hip-hop fan, and I quickly remedied that. As I scanned I found a pleasant noise coming from KBOO. The Waterfront Blues Festival was being broadcast. Yes! Something besides Top-40 crap. It was too early to have the blues, so I moved over to the metal channel. I pulled out of the parking garage and pointed myself in the direction of 82nd Avenue.

I haven’t driven much the past few years, but it comes back quickly. I rolled along, retraining my eyes to focus on the road instead of daydreaming out the window. I wondered if this wasn’t a huge financial mistake. I could use that hundred bucks for bills, or save it for the next emergency. Reminding myself that that’s why they call them credit cards, I let out a deep breath and rolled on. It was July 2nd. 24 years ago to the day I saw Ozzy Osbourne live in concert for the first time. I was reminded of this when Shot In The Dark began playing on the radio. I pulled up in front of the house, had a misty moment, thanked my lucky stars and went into the house to load up for the road…

* * *

A call to the Ex went to voicemail. Since she rarely gets up before noon, I pointed the car in that direction anyway. It was a nice day for a drive. Any day is a nice day for a drive when it’s someone else’s car. I rolled down familiar streets, made notes of school zones, dodged potholes. Soon I was on Highway 26, heading west toward the ocean beaches.

I took the Tillamook exit, looking for Highway 47. Soon I was past Forest Grove, heading toward McMinnville. I’d Google-mapped the address, it seemed simple enough to find. It only took one pass to find the trailer park. Unfortunately, she hadn’t given me the trailer number, and there were probably thirty trailers. I rolled to the top of a very high hill, looked down, and began a slow descent. A group of small children were being supervised by what turned out to be a very large tween. I rolled down the window and asked, “Does anyone here know a woman named Annie? Short, Native American, kinda crazy…”

The tween shook her head, then looked toward a trailer like she’d just met Ward Weaver. I figured it best to move on.

I surveyed the trailers, but could find no clues. I first called the Ex, the my daughter. No answer either place. Oh well. Guess I’ve got wheels and no particular place to go.

Fucking awesome!

The Blues Festival was in full swing, so I jammed along as I drove back to Forest Grove. Nature was calling, there must be a bathroom open somewhere in town. As I went to turn toward my former mother-in-law’s house, a Forest Grove cop fell in behind me.

Fucking great.

Instead of immediately turning, I kept going forward, with Glenn Frey’s Smuggler’s Blues playing in my head. Forest Grove cops have never liked me. I hoped he wouldn’t pull me over. I wasn’t carrying contraband, but I wasn’t sure how much longer I could hold water.

He followed long enough to run the plate, then turned away. See, officer? Even longhaired redheads wearing clown caps can drive a brand new car! I headed for Rogers Park, hoping it still had a bathroom. A Porta-Potty. Any old port in a storm. It was better than watering the cop’s wheel.

Refreshed, I pointed back toward Portland. I took the old highway, said hi to Harvey the rabbit, stopped at Best Teryaki for a 5 PM breakfast, called home to check in. All was well. Might as well show off…

I cruised past my work place. Dr T was off as well. Tilly the Hon was patiently explaining something to Giggles, who had a blank look on his face. Didn’t know, didn’t want to know. I went past the mall. Darryl, my Samoan security guard buddy, jaywalked in front of the car. I rolled down the window, and in my best Gomer Pyle voice shouted, “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!”

His scowl cracked when he recognized me. “Hey dude! Nice wheels. Yours?”

“‘Til Tuesday!” I hollered back. I headed for home. Time for a sanity break.

* * *

After a nap, it was time for another adventure. I cruised up 82nd, back toward the airport. I stopped at the store I worked at for ten years, buying a Diet Dr Pepper to drink in the parking lot. The hood-rat shoulder-tappers made snarky comments, then skulked away quietly when I gave them a dirty look. (Need to work on your intimidation factor, dudeses…) I watched a hooker work the bus stop. Or was she a police decoy?

Let’s find out.

I pulled out of the lot and caught the light. I looked her square in the eye, the most common form of solicitation. The look she gave me back wasn’t even close to ‘come hither’, so I rolled on. If she was a decoy, I’d best be getting the hell out of there. The last thing I needed was to have my wheels, er, someone else’s wheels confiscated.

I rolled through downtown, pulling up in NW Portland. My cell phone went off, Art East was calling. “Hey, whaddup?”

“I’m out cruising. Got anywhere you need to go?”

“Hmm..” he pondered. “I was gonna go out for a pack of smokes.”

“I’ll give you a ride. Meet me out front.”

We spent the next two hours rolling around the west side. Out to the industrial area, up to Council Crest, back to Hawthorne. The cell phone went off again, this time it was my daughter. “Hey baby.”

“Is it too late to call?” It was after midnight.

“Call me anytime. Sorry I missed you today.”

“I might have been around if I’d known you were coming,” she admonished.

“Your mother didn’t tell me which trailers you are in, and your neighbors looked a little worried. I figured it best to try another time. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“I’m working, but you can come by there.” She gave me time and location coordinates.

Art finished a cigarette, and I fired up the car. I had to get home to wrangle the teens, and Art had an early day. I bid him adieu, and made for home.

Better get some sleep. Tomorrow I really get my money’s worth…


  1. oLd pH0geY said,

    You whippersnappers and your danged hot rods %p

  2. Jeff Davis said,

    Lucky you! If I was in Portland today, I would head up to NOPO and look for that great strip club on the cornor of Killingsworth and Greeley, The last time I was their was in the middle 90’s Madrona Hill was my haunt.
    Today in South Jersey about 95 and humid.
    Trade places?
    I live about 2 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, and about 40 miles South Of Atlantic City!.
    Give me Portland anytime!
    Have fun with you’re wheels.

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