4 guys & a raft to the rescue

When I worked at an Outdoor Gear store, I went on all the kayaking trips they had to offer and took a couple of safety courses specific to paddling. It is important to know multiple ways to re-enter your kayak if you find yourself in the water for some reason. Most of the trips I went on were on flat water and only once did I go Sea Kayaking. I would consider myself to be an intermediate level kayaker.

One Saturday, I decided to join a couple coworkers on their swift moving water kayak trip for the day. They were going to Husum Falls. Husum Falls is located on the White Salmon River in Washington. It has a 12 foot drop, is a class V waterfall, and is one of the 5 Tallest Commercially Rafted Waterfalls in North America. There is a bridge near by where spectators can watch people “run the falls” – Husum falls Halarity

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Since this would be my first time on fast moving water, I figured it best to let my coworker friend, aka: the outdoor school Tour Guides, pick out my boat. They were the experts after all. To this day, I still have no idea why he chose an inflatable kayak.

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inflatable kayak pictured

No sooner had we walked down to the put in spot and got in the water, we were off. Water was moving fast. I was starting to get the feel of how to maneuver myself in the water using the paddle when the current took me, swept me into this huge right half circle, and into a cove of rocks where the side of the boat scraped along the wall. There was a huge hole torn it the boat and I sunk immediately.
Just like that- it was over. Just a few feet away was a embankment to the right. We hauled ourselves and the deflated boat up on the rocks to come up with a plan. There weren’t many options for us. Since we hadn’t made it very far, it was too far to finish the run. It was logistically impossible to make it back up where we put in. We had to wait. Wait for a person coming down with space enough to carry me and my deflated boat.

We waited on the side of water for hours. Frequently, other kayakers would stop to make sure we were okay or to see if they could help in any way. What a nice community of people to be in community with. Makes me want to paddle more.

There proved to be only 1 option for us that day. I still can’t believe how lucky we were. There was 1 commercial raft coming our way with one free spot and enough space to carry the torn kayak. We flagged them down as soon as we saw them!

4 guys were on a Bachelor party rafting trip. Their buddy was a guide and owned his own raft.

They were such good sports to let me crash. I told them all the Dirty Jokes I knew as we paddled down the river. My buddies made sure to paddle close so we could still be together.

After 20 minutes or so it was time to decide if we were going to “run the falls”. If the answer was yes- we would have to go through some practice exercises in preparation. There is a particular way to crouch down, hold the paddle and the boat, as well as a pep talk in case things go wrong. They all wanted to do it and I certainly wasn’t going to be the chick they were nice enough to pick up to hold them back.

I was nervous. REALLY nervous. I had thoughts of backing out up until the point of no return!

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We did it! I did it! It was fun and it would be the first of many runs for me 🙂

Some guys go to Vegas for their Bachelor Party….

I am so glad these guys decided to raft the Husum Falls.

Vacation Alone? Yes Please

Canada eh

This year I wanted to spend my birthday in Canada. I have heard how beautiful it is and I wanted to see it with my own eyes. People keep recommending taking the ferry from Seattle over to Victoria. Then I would continue to ferry up to Vancouver.

This birthday trip seemed like the perfect opportunity to make it a solo adventure. I have yet to take a big trip myself and I was ready for one. I decided traveling solo would be better partly because it can be challenging coordinating with other people and partly because every time I have traveled with others there has been some drama. I’m tired of drama.

I spend a lot of alone time already so going on vacation couldn’t be much different. It wasn’t. I loved every minute of it!

I really enjoyed creating each day to my liking. Going to eat whenever and wherever my heart desired. I didn’t have to feel bad going to bed early. I didn’t feel bad for not wanting to drink all the time. I didn’t have to be a third wheel or a fifth wheel. I enjoyed each and every day of my vacation.

One time I went to Puerto Rico with four other girls whom were close friends. Upon arriving it became so apparent I was the fifth wheel (and the only person who spoke Spanish). During our kayaking trip, I was the odd man out and paired with another solo person who ended up flirting with the instructor the entire time, leaving me stuck in the back seat miserable. Another evening we were invited to our Snuba instructor’s house for dinner. After dinner was over we were gathered in the kitchen when he asked us -“If you had to vote someone off the island who would it be?” It was such an awkward silence because we all knew it was me. Then the straw that broke me was the day they made plans on how to spend their entire day and they didn’t bother to ask me what I wanted to do. I didn’t like their plan. After crying in the shower, I decided to take my day into my own hands. I called the guy we went Snuba diving with and asked if I could go on the boat. I spent the entire day with various people in the Caribbean Sea. The following morning, I arranged a separate ride to the airport. I went to the Bodies exhibit and to play some Blackjack at the casino before catching the flight home.

One time I went to Europe with a girl I’ve known for a long time but hadn’t seen in over 10 years. I thought I was going to get this bonding sister trip instead she prioritized men. Making out with a man that worked at the Louvre when we were supposed to go for just a drink. Then someone how I am talking her out of going to his house for the night and meeting me in the morning when we were leaving for Rome. We made it to Amalfi when a local gentlemen came out of his shop to flirt with me. He invited us to his house for dinner and it was my turn to say we would go. My friend also thought the local gentlemen was attractive, flirted all night and in the end she was making out with him. This put a damper on the rest of the trip even though I refused to let it ruin it.

One time I went to Hawaii to visit a new friend. Once I arrived she was inseparable from her live in boyfriend and suddenly I found myself being the third wheel. I didn’t even like this guy which made it extra hard to deal with. I admired her independent spirit. She expected me to act with the same level of independence. I was hoping for some bonding. Since I wasn’t as independent as she was and she worked alot when I was there, it was a rough trip. In hindsight, this trip would prepare me for being able to move around more independently from that moment on. It would show me how to have fun by myself. Next level solo fun-beyond movies,meals and shopping. These skills would contribute to the success of my first solo adventure to Canada.

My solo trip to Canada was the best traveling experience I’ve had to date. I got to see the Nutcracker at the Royal McPherson Theater. I met the nicest family from Australia. I spent time with myself. Traveling, resting, exploring, and connecting with fellow humans. Happy Birthday to me ❤

Where to next?

Go to Crater Lake if you can

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It only took me eight years and A LOT of effort to get there however it was totally worth it. Therefore, I highly recommend it to you.

It is a very popular spot. Camping spots are taken up months in advance. There are two campgrounds they provide information for on their website. They are very good about keeping the website updated with open spots for reservations.

  • Mazama Campground is the closest to the Lake. This site reserves 10% of the spots for walk-ins. Walk-ins are on a first come first serve basis. Whether you have a reservation or are just walking up, Check-in time starts at 12:00 p.m.
  • Lost Creek Campground is the second closest, doesn’t take reservations, and is a tent only site.

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I lucked out and a spot opened up at Mazama’s two days before my trip. I kept checking back every 30 minutes or so to see the status of open sites.

When we arrived around 11:15 a.m. there were people already making a line for the walk-in spots.

I recommend bringing your own firewood. They sell firewood at the store near the entrance to the campground. It cost $10 a bundle. Since there was a burn ban in effect, I felt so lucky each camping site had a fire ring which allowed us to build a fire. My favorite part about camping!!!

Technically Crater Lake is a caldera not a crater. You can drive 33 miles around the entire thing on the Scenic Rim Drive (since you are there- why not?!) It doesn’t take that long to do…

Elevation of Crater Lake ranges from 7000 to 8000 feet. Portland’s elevation is only 50 feet above sea level. Be mentally prepared for this. I underestimated the effects of this on my body. I figured since I grew up in Colorado that it wasn’t going to be a big deal. I forgot that it has been 20 years since I have been to Colorado and it became apparent real fast. There is less oxygen the higher in elevation you go. My heart was beating so hard after a few steps hiking around.

I would only get to spend 1 day and 1 night at Crater Lake so I wanted to make the most of it. I signed up to take their 2 hour boat tour. It cost $44.

There’s only one place to access the water. It’s the same place you will have to go if you decide to take the boat tour.

We arrived to the check-in spot for the boat tour, only to learn it had been cancelled 💩

They only have 3 boats. One of them had just broken down. They are required to keep one of those boats designated as the rescue boat aka: “the just in case” boat. If for any reason something happens to the boat people are on, they need the just in case boat to rescue everyone.

I wanted to touch the water so I convinced my friend to hike down to dip our feet in it. It is not a recreational lake so activities are limited. You can fish. There is a small area to jump in. No flotation devices, no swimming and no private boats.

The hike is moderately difficult because of the (overall) elevation change. The hike itself only changes by 780 feet. If you already live in a place that is is more than 6,000 feet above sea level, you will be fine. For the rest of us, I again want to mention how it took my by surprise. It took hours to get back up the hike. (Still worth it). I just want you to be prepared ❤

If you have the chance to visit this place- you must go!!!!!

I’m sorry, you must have me mistaken…

Growing up in Colorado Springs, there was competition between civilian and military men to date the local ladies. Many girls wanted to date the Air Forces boys and I was no different. There is something very attractive about the uniform.

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When I was 19 years old, I dated an Air Force Academy Cadet. He was my first boyfriend. He was good looking and so was his group of friends. He would turn 21 years old while we were dating. I was not going to let my catch of a boyfriend start to go out to the bars without me. I wanted to remain his girlfriend.

The night of his 21st birthday, his squadron took him out drinking. I knew where they were going and I talked my way in to give him a surprise. I went with a friend and sat at a table far enough away to see him and not have him see me. I waited for about 20 minutes before I found his waitress so I could send over a drink, along with my house key and a note that said – “Thought you were cute so I bought you a drink, would you like to come to my place after?”

It was great to watch his group of friends surveying the room to see who this girl could be. It didn’t take long for someone to spot me 🙂

His birthday night confirmed that I would need to find a way to be able join him in the future.

I worked with a girl named Carrie McClary. Carrie was cool and understood my dilemma. She offered to let me use her birth certificate and social security card to get a fake ID. I planned to get one in a different state since states don’t share databases. I had plans to join my boyfriend for one of his trips back home. He came to the AF Academy from West Dundee, Illinois. West Dundee is a suburb of Chicago.

He made frequent trips home to visit his family. Once things got serious between us, I started to travel with him. I love Chicago. I have super fond memories of going to Arlington Race Horse Track, Medieval times , shopping in Schaumberg, gambling on the Riverboats in Elgin, and spending New Year’s Eve downtown Chi-town. I figured getting an ID would be easier than getting a drivers license. In Illinois you need 3 things to get an ID. A birth certificate, social security card and proof of address. How was I going to prove residency in a state I didn’t live in with a name that wasn’t really mine?

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I was shocked when my boyfriend ‘s conservative, religious parents agreed to help. They let me use their home address. They owned a manufacturing company so they wrote me a letter to my fake name, welcoming me to my new position with their company. Genius!

Let get fake ID adventure begin. We started out at the DMV in Elgin. I can’t remember why they turned me down but they did so we ended up going to the DMV in Woodstock. It worked. I got my fake ID in Woodstock, Illinois.

At the time I was working for General Meters Corp. General Meters Corporation is a developer and provider of one-card systems for college and university campuses. All I had to do was walk downstairs and scan the universities they had contracts with, find one from Chicago, and convince my buddy that worked in that department to help me create a student ID with my fake name. This would prove to save my ass a few months later.

Having a fake ID meant freedom. The most important freedom for me at the time was the ability to keep up with my boyfriend and his friends.

Frequently our group would go play Blackjack in Cripple Creek, Colorado. One time when we were there, I was sitting at a table playing blackjack when an undercover policeman came over to question me. He wanted to see some ID. I gave him the fake one. He asked me why I didn’t have my drivers license. I am a terrible liar and the only thing I could think of to say was that I had gotten into some trouble drinking and driving therefore I was unable to have a license. I also had a backup college ID to show him. He was satisfied and left me to gamble.

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Once I came really close to having my fake ID taken from me. One weekend night we went to Crocodile Rocks. Crocodile Rocks was a night club in the corner of a strip mall that was “the place to go” for dancing and such. No sooner had I entered the establishment and was making my way across the dance floor towards the bar when I was tapped on the shoulder by a bouncer asking for my ID. I pulled it out and gave it to him. He said ” Looks good to me” but my supervisor wants to see it. He started to make his way to the front of the club so I followed right behind him. Thank goodness my boyfriend noticed and started to follow us too. As soon as we met up with the supervisor I knew I was in trouble. We knew each other from high school.

He looked me straight in the eye and said, ” I know you, your name is Julie ****** and you are too young to be here”. I felt panicky on the inside and was scrambling for a way to not get caught. I looked him straight in the eye back and said, “I’m sorry , you must have me mistaken for someone else”. My boyfriend also started to explain that I was his girlfriend from back home who was in town for a visit. He pulled out his wallet to show his Illinois drivers license along with his military ID. I pitched such a fit, demanding my ID back and the cover charge we paid since we were leaving. It worked. Got my ID and the cover and we were off to another bar. We vowed never to return there until I was really 21 years old, which would just be another year. Plenty of other places to go.

I can’t believe how close I came to getting caught but never did. I’m not a big drinker, never have been. Even with a fake ID I wasn’t. Now that I am old enough to drink and gamble, I look back at that time in my life with amazement. Amazement and Gratitude.

Last year was the first year I stopped getting carded when going to bars. Time flies when you’re having fun! And now that I’m in my forties I guess it’s come full circle. It feels better to live life without having to lie about your age. I haven’t had to for decades now ❤

Covert Operation = Get Nieces back

3 thousand dollars & Karma allowed for the covert operation.

Maybe you have read the other blogs about my journey, maybe you have not. This story picks up at the end of the blog that is linked above.

For those that have not, let me give you the readers digest version: I don’t have a good relationship with my biological mother. My younger sister passed away in 2003 which prompted me to connect with the abusive dysfunctional people from my past in order to attend her funeral and to meet my little nieces, whom were 3 years old and 18 months old at the time. I wanted to help raise my nieces so they moved to Austin TX where I was living in 2004. It didn’t go well and my biological mother lied and said she was going on vacation when she was secretly moving to Oregon about 1.5 years later. She then proceeded to cut me out of my nieces lives. She changed the phone number leaving me no way to contact the little girls that had become such a big part of my heart <3.

When I found out they moved, I made plans to visit. Those plans were met with resistance. I was told I had to do certain things, I wasn’t willing to do. My biological mother doesn’t get to treat me however she wants and then dictate my response to it. This is when she told me not to come. Shortly after that she changed the phone number.

I realized that if I was ever going to see them again, I would need my visit to be a surprise. I didn’t take the trip I originally planned since she had all the details and could have easily left town. This would result in me wasting $3,000.00

Covert Operation = get nieces back began to form. I bribed my boyfriend at the time to come with me with some fun plans in Portland before traveling to Salem to sit in front of their house. I decided going around Christmas time would increase the chances of me being able to find them at home.

In 2006, I got plane tickets for Portland, a rental car to drive to Salem, hotel rooms and massage appointments. I went to the local toy store and purchased Christmas presents for the girls. We stayed two days in Portland before headed off for the drama.

Portland was awesome! The size of the city reminded me of the Austin Texas I moved to the summer of 1996. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe- off to Austin TX I go. The nature scene reminded me of growing up in Colorado Springs. Portland has delicious food, cool bridges and nice people. It was becoming clear that I liked it so much that I wanted to live there. I never thought I would see the day I wanted to move from Austin because I loved living there. It’s the place I have lived the longest yet (15 years) Portland was pretty awesome though and I seriously started to think about moving. I would need to finish college first.

After two days in Portland, we drove to Salem, checked into the hotel and went to sit in front of my nieces house. It was completely nerve wracking. The anxiety built with every passing moment. At some point my boyfriend mentioned he was hungry. I didn’t want to leave because Murphy’s Law says the moment I leave is the moment they come home and I didn’t want to miss them. He ended up convincing me to get some fast food for him. We weren’t gone long. When we returned, the lights in the house were on. I knew it! I missed my moment! I was pissed at my BF and pissed at myself for agreeing to leave. Now we have to go to the door. This gives my biological mother more of an advantage.

We crept up to the door and couldn’t really see through the oval circle made of frosted glass that was in the middle of the wood door. I could hear them though. I tried to wait until I heard the girls voices closer towards the front of the house however it was proving impossible. I knocked on the door and she told the girls to go to their rooms because she thought I was going to be someone else that was showing up with something for the girls for Christmas. When she answered the door, it took her a minute to register what was happening. I saw her face change when it clicked. I shoved my foot in the door so she couldn’t close it on me and I started yelling my nieces names. I didn’t overcome the year of sadness and come all this way not to be successful. She let me in…

At first it was very awkward. It took an hour or so for the girls to remember who I was. There weren’t any pictures of me around. I’m 100% sure she didn’t talk about me or say nice things about me or remind them of the good times we had and how much I loved them. She asked if I was there to take them away? My answer was – I’m not you.

I had a hotel down the street and I wanted the girls to come and stay with me. I’m surprised she agreed. I got to spend all the days I was there with them. We went out to eat and had a couple sleepover nights. I couldn’t have been more happy. I got them back!!!!!

After a week, it was time to return home to Austin. I invited each of my nieces to come for 1 week during the summer. The littlest one was too scared to fly so the older one asked if she could have her sister’s week and come for 2 weeks. OF COURSE. It almost didn’t happen because she was very scared to get on the plane. Thankfully a nice couple saw this little girl crying and offered to accompany her during the flight. Words could not express the disappointment I felt at the thought of her not being able to board the plane. I am so proud of her for conquering her fear and making it all the way to Texas. We had a blast. Lots of swimming. Reuniting with old friends. She lost a tooth. She celebrated her 8th birthday while there- We went at Schlitterbahn with friends. Our relationship was back on track. I love her more than I love anyone in the world.

I spent the next 2 years flying to Portland for visits. As my nieces got older, I knew that they needed me to be closer. I wanted to be a bigger part in their lives. I was putting myself through college part-time which would take 10 years to complete. I graduated the summer of 2010 and by the end of December, I moved to Dallas OR, where they lived.

I ❤ you Herinal

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Did you know they make a urinal for women?!

I didn’t until I went to Oregon Country Fair.

Chances are there won’t be a line to use it.

Chances are most people don’t know it is there or how to use it.

It’s Easy!!!!!!!

Step 1: Find the sign

I haven’t had to wait in line yet to go to the bathroom at an event that has 25,000 + attendees…..

Normally there are 4 to 6 troffs. You can face either way, although most people squat facing the drain. There is plenty of toilet paper and even a place to put the TP.

It doesn’t smell any worse than a port-a-potty / Maybe even slightly better since no one is pooping there.

I have only seen it at OCF and I wish there were more of them around.

Don’t be scared. Don’t be nervous. Don’t be shy. Give the lady urinal a try.

Your bladder will thank you ❤💚💜💙💛.

Dealing Blackjack in Las Vegas

When I was 22 years old, I was keeping books for Coppertank Brewing Company in Austin TX. Although working at this place would come with some challenges, I would end up returning to it to deal cards after Vegas. It all started when my car broke down and instead of going to work, I took the day off to figure out how to get it towed from the gas station it was stuck at. I also needed to figure out how I was going to fix it. I am the only person I have in my life to make sure things get done. At that time, I was working at Celis Brewery. My supervisor offered to give me ride the next morning except when she arrived, she had a letter in her hand. They were firing me for taking the time to address my car. Thank goodness a girl I knew (you will hear about later in the story) told me about the position at Coppertank. I interviewed later that day and got the job. The bar business is a male dominated one. I felt pressure to keep up with Texas style grooming; fake boobs, fake tan, fake nails, even fake eyelashes because that’s whats Texas girls do. At times the misogyny was glaring. For example- one of the more popular t-shirts sold there said “Drink until she’s cute” The staff were all having sex with each other , even managers with waitresses. I was not in the mix of any of it.

One evening, they did something that was so upsetting, I quit on the spot. I just stormed right out. I woke up the next day in deep regret. I didn’t have a working car and now I didn’t have a job. I was full of apologies when I tried to get my job back but they weren’t having it. Too bad so sad for me.

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Before I could seriously look for another job, I had a vacation coming up. A long weekend trip to Las Vegas. I love to gamble and have been doing it since I’ve had a fake ID at nineteen in Cripple Creek, Colorado. It suddenly occurred to me I could stay long enough to learn how to deal blackjack, buy a car and return to Austin. I heard rumors about how much money you can make in tips so I figured it wouldn’t take too long to gather the funds. They are pretty much handing out loans to dealers and cocktail waitress because they know they would make enough money to cover it.

I needed to seriously figure out how to do this. The only people I knew in Vegas were my biological mother and younger sister. They moved to Las Vegas when I moved to Austin, the summer of 1996. It had only been about a year that I had started speaking to them again. Things were on shaky ground. Growing up, I experienced so much dysfunction I couldn’t get away fast enough. I left home at 17 and went four years without speaking to them. I decided to try again after the worst day of my life. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe- off to Austin TX I go. This Vegas trip would be the final straw to remind me of why I left and I would go another 3 years before speaking with my sister and another 6 years before having to see/speak with my biological mother for my sister’s funeral. I havent spoken to her since January 2011 and I don’t have the desire to ever again. Life became better without her.

I was living in a 2 bdr apartment and everything was in my name. I have had many roommates, none of them stable or good choices. My current male roommate was addicted to drugs and super dirty ( I knew neither of these things before he moved in because he lied) When I went to see his apartment, he had paid someone to clean it. I didn’t know this until after he moved in and we fought about his habits. A couple of times I snuck into his room early morning (because he was always passed out and getting up late) to steal his car keys and use his car to run errands. Guess I’m not the perfect roommate either. Although the only thing I really cared about in a roomie was they paid bills on time and the shared spaces to be kept OCD clean ( I still do) .

I talked to my roommate about my plans for Vegas. I told him I would send money for half the rent/bills each month, just please don’t screw me in any way shape or form. I would only need a few months before I would return. Maybe it would be better to not leave him alone? I really can’t trust this guy. I am taking a big chance leaving for an undetermined amount of time and I’m taking a big chance with where I would be staying in Vegas.

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Last minute, I thought of someone who could take my place in the apartment. The only drawback is that we had broken up not too long ago. We weren’t dating anymore because he was an alcoholic with commitment issues. He was living with a couple who were wanting more privacy because they were planning to get married. They were hinting their desire for him to move out. The timing was perfect. He could pay half the rent and bills. This would allow me to save more money and get home faster. I could also have someone to keep an eye on my dirty cocaine addicted roommate.

We went out for a drink and I laid down some ground rules. I would de personalize my room to make it more comfortable for him. #1 Rule NO sex with other girls in MY bed. Take it to the living room couch (also mine). Better yet, go to her house! He would keep an eye on my current roommate and update me with any information I needed to be aware of. He would make sure the bills were on time. His #1 concern was getting stuck with my things. I assured him if the day came that something happened. I would come home immediately to take care of my business.

I flew to Las Vegas and signed up for dealing school. It was fun, I learned how to deal pitch. I learned how to check the chips. I memorized blackjack payouts from $1-$100. What takes most people 30 days to finish, I did in 7.

 

When you are new, there are only certain casinos that will hire you. They are called Break-In houses. They know you are new and going to make mistakes. I went for my live audition at the Gold Coast. I got the job! They hired me on the spot. I was assigned the night shift. The hours were 7:00 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.. The Gold Coast works on a 24 hour tip share pool. This means the person working at 6:00a.m. (when no one is playing ) is making the same amount of money as the person busting their ass Friday night at 11:00 p.m.

 

You’re not allowed to have people you know sit at your table to gamble so I didn’t let on when my buddy Joe and his friend drove up from California to play some blackjack. They followed me around to each table I would be stationed at ( since a shift includes working for 40 minutes and breaking for 20) then you get put at a different table. I would end up taking all their money.

 

20190727_115855.jpgThey say it’s all about who you know, which couldn’t be more true in Las Vegas. I made friends with one of the female pit bosses. She nicknamed me Downtown Julie Brown. Do you remember that MTV host? Anyways, this would prove to be beneficial. It would ensure I never got picked for a “random” drug test. I beat a hair test to get the job.

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You know the day the guy I used to date was worried about. Yeah, that day came. He called me one morning, after three months, to let me know the other roommate was moving out. I would need to come back to Austin to take care of my business. I woke up the next day, bought a slightly used car ( light purple Saturn SC1), gave my two weeks notice and started to prepare to return home to Austin. I flew out a girl, whom I thought was my friend, to travel home with me. She turned out to be a frenemy. We then drove 24 hours straight home in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends. This would be the year I would take 13 shots in addition to some cocktails resulting in giving myself alcohol poising. I may have turned 23 while living in Las Vegas however I wasn’t another year wiser.

Upon moving back into my apartment, I would end up having to live with that ex boyfriend for a few months. After a month a so we managed to find ourselves having sex on the couch. This naked time between us would result in another separation. I would end up asking him to move out. Sex on the couch = I known what it means. Coming into my bedroom for sex and then leaving to sleep for the night in your own bed = crossing the line = no commitment = you gotta go…

It wouldn’t take too long before I would see an ad in the paper for dealers wanted. Since gambling is illegal in Texas, it caught my attention. Turns out, there were several companies in town throwing parties with a casino theme. These types of parties are popular during the holiday season. Companies throw their employees parties, feed them, and give them drink tickets. We are the entertainment. Hopefully they offer incentive to play otherwise we stand around doing nothing but watching them eat, dance, and sometimes sing karaoke. They have become my entertainment.

I currently have a job with a casino company in Portland Oregon. I have been dealing blackjack since 1997. I held my gaming license for 10 years and now I teach people how to play. I have a feeling it will be a job that I do until I am old and can’t work anymore.

What starts in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas LOL.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe- off to Austin TX I go.

1995 was a rough year for me. I was 21 years old. I crashed my car, lost my job and found out I was pregnant all in the same day. Time for some big changes.

I grew up between California and Colorado. I was born in San Francisco and lived in the Bay Area, mainly Vallejo, until I was 8 yo. After some serious physical abuse inflicted upon me by my step father, I was shipped off to live in Colorado Springs. I would live with my biological mother’s mother. She was also abusive and I would stop speaking to her at 18 years old.

I would graduate High School in Co Spgs. I wanted to go to college far far away but couldn’t afford to even go to the local community college so just like ever other kid who doesn’t continue their education, I got a job.

114 jobs and counting

Years of working led to years of yearning for something different. Something bigger.

After the worst day of my life insofar as of yet. I decided I was going to move. But to where?

I had spent time on the West Coast already. I had seen parts of the East coast. I wanted to move to a bigger city but not too too big. The Northern part of the states was cold like Colorado. I hadn’t spent too much time in the South. The idea of never having to scrape snow and ice off my car before heading out was awfully appealing.

20190727_120604.jpgI busted out a map and said Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. How bout I go to Austin TX… I’ve heard good things about it from a girl I know named Rebecca. To think that was enough information for me is semi frightening. You wouldn’t catch me doing that now. I would need way more information.

 

 

Austin was bigger than Colorado Springs but not as big as Chicago. My Air Force boyfriend was from West Dundee IL so I have spent a lot of time in the Chicago area. Got my fake ID in Woodstock IL since they turned me down in Elgin. His sister was a nurse and lived downtown Chicago. She came home almost every weekend though to be with her family. She was lonely. I have a lot of gratitude towards my fellow humans for allowing me to get an education, to learn some life lessons ,by observing the details of their lives. Watching her fill her loneliness with her beloved family taught me that when you live in a big city, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. It showed me that just because you have a lot of money doesn’t take away the fact you could easily feel like just a number. I didn’t want to feel that lonely. Not only did I not have any money, I didn’t have any family to lean on. Seriously- if this pretty, smart, successful girl was coming home on the weekends, what was in store for me? I was already going to be alone when I moved. Unless I could find a friend to join me….

The girl I found turned out to be Courtney. We knew each other from high school. She was a fellow friend ready to have a bigger adventure and get out of the military town we grew up in. Colorado Springs is surrounded by Peterson AFB, Fort Carson Army Base and the Air Force Academy. Courtney and I soon spent our days making plans. We would need to rent a truck, map the route we would drive and research which parts of the city were best to live in. It was all very exciting!

Three weeks before we were supposed to leave, Courtney found out she got into college. It’s what she really wanted to do therefore she backed out of the move. I was committed. I would go alone if I had to. Going with a friend sounded much better though. I wasn’t going to know anyone in a city/state I had never been to. It would make life so much easier and nicer to have a pal to explore with.

I decided to hit my friend T up. I have known her since 8th grade. I lived in her house during my senior year in high school. When she graduated high school she moved to Breckenridge to live with her boyfriend. I would move into a downtown apartment with my friend Amy. True Independence at last. I would visit T in Summit County several times. During one of those visits I would mention that Courtney had backed out of the move, that all the plans were in place and I just needed to find someone to join or I would go alone.

T was born and raised Colorado. All her family lived in Colorado. She is close with her family. She said she would join if I could help convince her parents to get on board. I agreed. I had the talk with her parents, it worked and suddenly I was back on track with a friend to move with.

 

 

I was going to drive a 15 foot truck with all our belongings. Behind that truck I would tow my car that broke down the night before. It broke down in the Rocky Mountains on the way home from gambling in Cripple Creek. One last hoorah. There would be no time to fix it before I moved.

It took 2 days to make it from Colorado Springs to Austin TX. I had set up an appointment with an apartment Realtor to show us around. I decided I wanted to live close to downtown. Downtown is where you go when you don’t know where to go. He showed us good options.

20190711_214204-1.jpgWe picked a two bedroom at Riverside Place apartments and moved in later that day. I picked up the Sunday paper, found an office manager position to apply for with Celis Brewery. Even though I don’t like beer, I knew it would be a fun atmosphere. I was just 21 years old after all.

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So we arrived on a Friday night, found an apartment on Saturday- moved in, picked up the Sunday paper and had interviews for jobs we would both get by Monday. This is how you know you are where you are supposed to be when life works out so effortlessly ❤

 

 

Before I moved, a girl I worked with gave me someone to connect with in Austin. His name was Scott Crossett and he threw an annual 4th of July party on his boat. We would get to go if I called. Little did I know how much of a gift this guy would be in my life. He was the owner of Apple Leasing and he would be the reason I had transportation for over a year which allowed me to obtain work. That deal worked out for some time however I would end up selling my 55 gallon fresh water fishtank to put an engine in the broken car I towed with me.

Turns out I lived in Austin for 15 years. It is the longest I have lived anywhere. Austin holds so many memories for me:

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I would put myself through college (it would take ten years). I would move to Las Vegas, deal blackjack for 3 months, return home in time for New Year’s Eve (to give myself alcohol poising) in a light purple Saturn SC1 with a spoiler (joined by a friend turned enemy) that an Office Supplies truck would crash in to (totaling it) and (leaving me to go to the hospital on a backboard by ambulance).

 

 

Photo 2It’s the city where I would learn my younger sister was going to die, leaving me to rise up and face my dysfunctional past, in order to attend her funeral. Shortly after her death my biological mother and nieces would move to Austin. A few years later I would be lied to. I would be told they were going on vacation. In reality they were secretly moving to Oregon. My nieces would be 5 and 3 at the time.

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Austin is the place where I will sell weed (to pay for the last year of college) since I borrowed the maximum amount allowed for an Undergraduate degree.  I would go to jail for possession of marijuana and get robbed twice before I decided to change the trajectory of my life. It’s the place I will fall in love with two men and be cheated on and lied to therefore I will walk away from both. I could list so much more but I will keep some for myself.

 

In December of 2010 I will walk away from it all. I will move to Oregon after graduating college to be closer to my nieces. I want to be a part of raising them. I don’t have kids of my own. I love kids. I have finished school and it’s time to leave Texas.

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Portland Oregon was calling my name….

“It’s a great day for chili”

I bought a pair of Keen water shoes in 2010 to go to Lollapalooza with my friend Alex.  They were the nicest pair of water shoes I have owned yet.  I have enjoyed using them often since I am living in Oregon now. They have been my go to shoe for all the kayaking trips I get to go on working as the Full Charge Bookkeeper for Next Adventure   This job has a lot of adventure perks. I plan to go on them all. So far I have being skiing on Mount Hood, taken every guided hike and I have taken every guided kayaking trip they have to offer.

I have been out to Ross Island, several times- it is on the Willamette River. I have been out to Rooster Rock which is on the Columbia River Gorge.  I have been to Sauvie Island which is in the state of Washington but feels like really far north Portland.  I have come to expect some kind of challenge to happen during the trips because so far every trip has had something happen to make it a somewhat difficult experience.

Off all the challenges I have dealt with, the trip to Sauvie Island sticks with me the most.

Our group started off having a good time, we were moving along, taking in the nature when we encountered water only 2 inches deep.  This would take hours and hours to get out of.  The mud underneath was so soft we were unable to get out and stand in it to pull the boats.  I tried and the mud went up over my knees to mid thigh.  We turned our paddles into oars and inched our way along.  It was miserable but there was no other way around it. Not everyone was going at the same speed. It is important to stay together as a group.  After a considerable amount of time pulling ourselves along it was time for a break.  I hitched up with the high school girl.  She had just had surgery on her foot. Under no circumstances should her foot get wet.  She came on this trip because it had already been paid for. Not only was it her Aunt’s birthday, it was also her Mom’s weekend to be with her.  She sang Journey songs with me and taught me the new slang way the kids say “bitch”  = “batch of cookies”  I think it’s cute! I’m going to start using it. We also played silly games and asked each other fun get to know you questions.  Thank Jah this group was awesome to be stuck with!

P1020944After an hour of chillin’ in the mud, waiting for the other people to catch up, everyone voted to move inward and go from there.  It would take another 30 min of inching along just to reach the shore.  I am going to need to get out of my boat to help the high school girl get her boat the closest to shore as possible so she could get out while keeping her foot dry.  I’m going to have to pull her boat which will require me getting into the mud. The mud was soft like gray clay. The minute I stepped into it, it came to above my knees . I lifted my leg up to take a step and bloop..my shoe came off 2 feet under the mud.

Oh Fuck!  I turned right back around and plunged my arm in that crap to find my $100 pair of shoe.  Seriously, it was not to be found anywhere.  I plunged and plunged my arm around, it was hopeless.  I pulled that girl to shore and the sweetest gal that was on our trip came back out in the mud to help me look.  We crawled around on all fours…. both of us grossed out – words can’t express the feelings we had.  After a solid 10 minutes of trying, we didn’t recover the shoe.  I would have to spend the next 5 hours with one shoe only.

 

The mud proved too much for the group to get through so our guide decided the next course of action. We would pull our boats across a cow pasture which had stickers galore on the ground before making our way closer to the river to drop back in and paddle back to where the van was.  We were tired and the tour guide ended up having to pull some people for awhile.  We were also out of drinking water.  Thankfully a boat had noticed how long we were stuck and tossed us some bottled water.

Finally we make it to shore.  Loaded up the van and headed back to town. We didn’t make it back to the shop until 7:30p.m. (2.5 hours later than planned).

I stayed to help the tour guide wash the mud off the boats before putting them back.  Then I gave her a ride home since she needed one.  Dang. What a trip.

Three days later I received an email from the Willamette RiverKeeper asking for volunteers.  The Willamette RiverKeeper is the only non profit organization here in Portland dedicated to clean up of the Willamette River. The river is large and dirty.  It divides Portland into east / west sides. It’s the reason we have twelve cool bridges. I’m glad someone cares enough to keep it clean. Especially now that they try to market it as safe to swim in during the summer. They were offering a Keen shoe gift card worth $150 in exchange for a four hour shift.  Whoa- just what I needed and just in time.  It’s like the universe stepped in right away to support me ❤ Therefore- Sign me up and put me wherever you need me.

New Seasons 1They signed me up to be stationed at a New Seasons Market in Beaverton. I was tasked with selling chili outside the store.  It cost $5 and the money would go towards keeping the river clean ( and I get my shoes back )  I stood outside for 4 hours.  For 3 of those 4 hours I shouted at people walking by  “It’s a great day for chili” .  It was indeed a great day for it.  It was cloudy with the feel of rain in the air. I am a vegetarian and so was the chili.  I had it for lunch, it was delicious.

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I got my shoes back as well as a pair of much needed rain boots.  It rains in Portland 8 to 9 months out of the year.  Maybe not all day everyday but often enough to use rain boots.

 

I can’t believe it worked out.  What a crazy way to loose my shoe and then get them back plus some.  I wouldn’t trade this story for anything. I have learned that painful moments end up making the best memories when you get to look back upon them.

Thanks Earth School.

 

Providence Bridge Pedal- Cheaters Never Prosper

Portland Oregon goes by many a nickname.  One of them is Bridge City.  Portland has 12 bridges that span the Willamette River.  Each with their own unique design and purpose.

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I have lived by the Broadway Bridge since I moved here in 2011. Once over this bridge, you will continue to be on Broadway street which runs through the heart of downtown to the south part of the city.

 

The first year I arrived my co-worker’s husband told me about a fun annual event in town. Once a year they close the bridges and only allow bikes to utilize them.  Normally cars dominate (there are tiny bike lanes ) . Once closed, the entire space is available to bike riders. There is an option to walk however that only includes one bridge – the Marquam Bridge. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still cool.  The Marquam Bridge gives you the best view of the city.  Calling it a bridge is a bit deceiving. Its more like a highway ramp/ overpass. That’s how you get the good view 🙂

The event is called Providence Bridge Pedal and I am definitely going to check it out.  Portland is such a cool city!

Research showed I was late to the game.  I didn’t have time to register and pay.  I didn’t have time to get any gear.  I barely had time to think of what I would need.  I haven’t done anything like this is so long. It has to be at least 15 maybe 20 years since I have been on a bicycle.  Ooops

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I called some bike stores around town and found a place downtown on the west side that had a single speed bike left (with a basket).  I will take it 🙂

 

I found the route online, determined I could sneak in behind a business that was just a few blocks away from where my full time job was. Only because I knew a bit about the area that I figured it would be a less risky spot to slip in. This way if I needed to exit quickly, I would be somewhat familiar with my surroundings. It doesn’t feel good to cheat. Being poor sucks. Being unprepared sucks. I vow to pay next year ( and do ).

I didn’t blend in at all. I didn’t have proper biking riding attire. I had some random snacks and a water in the basket of the bike. I was the only person as far as the eye could see that was not wearing a helmet. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of people who participate in the event.  It bears repeating. I was the ONLY person without a bike helmet. As I moved along with the crowd, no one spoke to me.

As I rode along, having a great time, there was a moment it occurred to me were getting further and further from the city.  The road I was on started to have a lot of space between the random businesses. Mind you, I have only been living here for a few months and I have no idea where things are.  All I know is that I was riding my bike down the side of a long road so far that I started to have dreams of calling a taxi. After a few minutes , serious cyclists started to pass me.  They had proper gear and signs on their backs with the number 10. I had plenty of time to think about what that could mean.  Suddenly I remembered some information I had glimpsed at since I didn’t technically pay to register.  There are options for the event.  You can walk, or ride over 3 bridges, 5 bridges or 10 bridges.  The 10 bridge option is about 25 miles long.

What the heck have I gotten myself into?!?!?!  Here is just another example of how Cheaters Never Prosper. I had no choice but to continue. I was tired and the taxi dreams were getting stronger.

Turns out we were headed to the St. Johns Bridge.  The furthest bridge North. Fun fact: it is the only suspension bridge out of the bunch. They had closed the on ramp for the bridge which made it convenient to access. At some point, I got off my bike to walk up the on ramp. It was a steep incline okay, I was tired and soar already. I had a fixed speed bike.  I didn’t even know what that meant before I had this adventure LOL

Then another shameful thing happened. I saw a man peddling fast going up the ramp, passing me by with not one, not two but three individual kid pod carriers behind him. Whoa, new goal.  I had come so far, I was so unprepared, I was so tired that it wasn’t motivating enough to get back on the bike.  I did stand there in awe of his moment.  I silently gave him praise and wished that I was in better shape.  The moment has stayed with me 7 years later.

I got back on the bike at the top of the ramp, rode over the bridge, headed back down towards where I started and couldn’t have been happier to be heading back. The ride back was fantastic.  They closed part of the Highway 405 which is a major thorough fare.  The event starts at 5:00 a.m. because they want to start opening back up the bridges at 11:00 a.m. You can imagine the delays in traffic this event causes once a year. It’s a big deal and I really wanted to do it. I was doing it.  Even if it meant sneaking in with my rented fix speed bike.

I started at 8:00 a.m.. It took me 3 1/2 hours to finish from where I snuck in ( rental due back by noon). I ended up riding over 6 of the bridges. In no particular order (corresponding pictures ) the Marquam Bridge, the Broadway Bridge, the Steel Bridge, the St. Johns Bridge and the Freemont Bridge, and the Burnside Bridge.

 

 

I never want to ride my bike to the St. Johns Bridge ever again. Kuddos to you if you do.  I would however do the Family ride which includes 6 bridges and the 405n Highway.  Be safe out there!  Bridge Pedal

 

Ride Shares – Adventurous or Risky Business ??

I had never considered using the ride share section on Craigslist until my friend Wrenna said she had great success with it. She is a twenty something hippie kid from Ashland so maybe her trust level is different than mine ?

I did grow up in a time ( the 80’s and early 90’s ) where hitchhiking was common and relatively safe. I can’t remember ever doing it though.

I wanted to go to Oregon Country Fair and I didn’t have a car.  I moved to Oregon with a car but it died a year later.  I wasn’t in a position to purchase another one right away so I became a bike only girl. That adjustment will go down in history as one of the all time biggest adjustments I have had to make yet.  I rode down with the coworker that told me about the event the first year I moved here.

In order to get to fair from Portland, you need a car.  It’s in Veneta Oregon, which is a few hours away.  I also like to be able to arrive and depart when I feel like it.

I missed fair for a few years in a row and I was aching to go again.

I decided to give this ride share thing a try. It would be cheaper than renting a car on my own. Boy was I nervous.  This is really out of my comfort zone.  The thought of it being out of my comfort zone amuses me now that I have been to Burning Man a couple of times. Regardless…….

I went to Craigs List, found an option that worked for me and reached out.  I remember he didn’t have his shit together and we would be leaving later than he stated in the listing because he needed to clean out his car and get gas.  I didn’t have a choice but to wait.

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Once he picked me up, making conversation was easy.  Once we arrived, we parted ways to experience fair on our own. We set a time to meet back at the car. The drive home was challenging for me.  Having to listen to this middle aged guy go on and on about the number of young girls breasts he saw made me want to throw up.  Instead I pretended I had smoked too much weed, was tired from walking around the event and closed my eyes to sleep the whole way home. Never again.

 

The following year I decided to rent a car and offer a ride to other people.  I ended up with 3 other passengers, one of whom did not have their ticket and made the whole car go out of it’s way to a location where one could be purchased. You can not purchase them at the gate. Besides that, they were nice enough.

We also parted our individual ways to experience fair and meet back up at the car at a set time to travel home to Portland.  I didn’t have to hear about tits and I was much happier.

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This year, I am still a bike only girl that wants to go to the 50th anniversary Oregon Country Fair event.  Since I have been on both sides of the coin. I prefer to be in charge therefore I have rented a car. I posted in the ride share group on Facebook. I also put a listing in the ride share section of Craigs List.  I am up for some adventure and just know the people that I give a ride to will be nothing short of awesome. My heart and mind are open ❤

 

I CAN’T WAIT TO GO TO FAIR THIS YEAR. I AM THE MASTER OF MY DESTINY.

 

 

There is always time for a parade!

Every year the City of Portland which is also known as the City of Roses puts on the Rose Festival which includes the Rose Parade, the Starlight Parade and the City Fair. I have yet to see the Starlight Parade or go to the City Fair in the last 8.5 years. I have watched the Rose parade go by the Broadway Bridge for about 30 minutes (a couple of times). There are people who camp the night before to reserve their front row spot. One year I was lucky enough to join a friend who was meeting up with her family in one of those front spots. I bought them all ice cream for letting me join. It was lovely to have great seating without sleeping on the street to get it.

I know that I will leave Portland Oregon soon and before I do , I would like to cross some quintessential Portland activities off the To Do list.

This year nothing is going to hold me back from doing all the little things I want to do. I plan to do them by myself since it will guarantee I get to do them when I want and when I find myself available. If other people want to join that would be great. I just don’t plan to put much effort into getting other people to go since it’s more trouble than it’s worth these days.

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It was a beautiful weekend in Portland Oregon last week and I was on my way to work at Providence Park (home to the Timbers and Thorns soccer teams). It was opening weekend for both teams. The stadium was also going to reveal the 5,000 newly added seats and new areas for season ticket holders and other VIP people. I heard it was a year long project that cost 80 million dollars. ( they scheduled me to work in this fancy area both days ).

The opening season Timbers game on Saturday was nuts. There were SO many people there. The city closes both Max stops that are closest to the stadium, after the game, for reasons I am unaware of. One stop is called Providence Park. Doesn’t it just force all the people to the next closest stop? After a quick observation of this, I decided to ride my bike as close to the waterfront as possible and hop on public transportation to take me over the bridge and closer to home.

One of the freedoms of being on a bike means you can make quick decisions and go down spaces cars can not go therefore I don’t always pay attention to which streets I am on. I found myself going down a road that did not have any traffic. Yahoo! So fun to ride down the middle of the street on a beautiful night breathing the fresh air for a few blocks. Then all of a sudden on the event horizon was a parade. The parade took up the entire length of the street and was coming right for me! I was able to see it in the dark because it was the Starlight parade and there were people glowing with lights along with lit up floats. I had a Burning Man flashback and pulled over to the first spot I saw where there were other people. Those people turned out to be the medical table. They had all the information :). I stopped and watched the parade for about 15 minutes since I ended up in the disbanding area and then went home.

On Sunday, I was heading back to the stadium to work the Opening Season Thorns soccer game ( the women’s team). When the max went right by the City Fair. I told myself I would stop by the Fair on my way home from work. It would still be light outside since the sun goes down around 9:00 p.m. this time of year.

I paid for an entire days admission to be there for a few hours. I headed straight for the Ferris wheel, bought one ticket and got in line. When it was my turn to board, they told me there was no single riders and I had missed the sign at the beginning of the line saying so. Wait?! What?! Excuse me…. I am by myself on purpose. I rode my bike down here after work, paid to get in just to ride this ride and now I can’t go?! or better yet, I have to impose myself upon strangers. Strangers that are already in their friend/ dating groups. Are you kidding me?!

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These nice people behind me let me join them and at the end the operator let me out so they could have a round by themselves. I also took many photos of them to show my gratitude. It was fun and I’m glad they let me join them.

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Next, I went for the swing ride called Vertigo. They will let solo riders on this ride. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize it wasn’t the swing ride I love so much, it looked just like it. I was made aware of the difference immediately when we were up in the air, spinning at a speed and angle that did indeed bring on Vertigo. Have you ever had Vertigo? It sucks! It can also take time to go away. I didn’t feel good towards the end of the ride and was happy for it to be over. I had enough money left to play a game or ride one more ride. That Vertigo ride really messed me up and I was ready to go home to lay down therefore I decided to play a game.

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Whac-A-Mole. This game reminds me of my childhood. It gives me a happy memory and I don’t have many of those from childhood. I walked over to play and what did he say….. You can’t play by yourself. What?! Wait?! are you kidding me. When did it become so difficult to go out and do something by yourself.?! I waited around for a few minutes. Surely someone else would want to play this game. Thank goodness someone came over in less than 5 minutes. She was a little lady, about 7 or 8 years old. She had never played. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had played. The game host announces before the game begins that the first person closest to 200 wins a prize ( the reason I couldn’t play myself even though he never explained this part to me). I beat her. She got 80 points, I got 100. I gave her the prize ❤

Then I walked towards the exit gate closest to my bike. Made eyes with a nice looking policeman, talked to the homeless people sitting on a blanket on the sidewalk next to the bike rack. They were enjoying the country music concert coming from the City fair (for free) and then I found the closest max stop to head home.

I did it! Go me! Cross another activity off the list! I managed to see the Starlight Parade and go to the City Fair this year. Next stop Rose Parade – coming this weekend.

I would like to publicly say – Thank you Portland for always having something fun to do. I won’t miss you when I’m gone and yet I’m having a blast while I’m here.