Although we had intended to do our volcano viewing in Washington in a leisurely fashion, the weather forecast encouraged us to be efficient and we were glad we were; the last two days were moist and we used the time for household chores and getting caught up on reading. Things are about to improve so we head two hours south to Portland to meet with friends before we return to the national park circuit.
Portland is smaller than we thought with only 600,000 people, so while people complain about the traffic here, it seemed inconsequential to us Chicagoans. The fact that it is Sunday probably helped, too. After checking into an immaculate campground festooned with flowers, we headed downtown to the Saturday Market which also takes place on Sundays. It is a collection of booths selling artistic creations and booths selling cheap junk from Asia. We could park for two hours for $4; at home that could cost us three times as much. The market took place in the old part of town which has retained some beautiful facades from the day when wrought iron decorations were the fashion here. Portland has a certain vibe. They like to describe themselves as weird, and the unique hair colors we saw on many folks left us with the impression that this must be so.
There are some unique things about the entire state as well. There is no sales tax here and you are not allowed to pump your own gas. It feels like an inconvenience when you have to wait for someone to come and do something that you can quickly and easily do for yourself. In olden times some additional services like cleaning the windshield and checking the fluid levels were included with the filling service, but that seems no longer to be the case here.