My girlfriend came up from LA to stay over the weekend. So on Monday she drove her rented car back to Portland to get her flight home and I went with her to the airport. I dont drive so my adventure began as soon as I tried to get back to Salem.
Dyan (My girlfriend) assured me that there was a train or a bus every hour from Portland that would take me back to Salem. At the airport the information guy told me that to catch the train to Salem I needed to get the Metro to a place called Rose Quarter,thinking about it now he might not have been an information guy, just a random man who looked authoritative.His information was definitely wrong. I stumbled all over the place in Rose Quarter before getting back on the Metro and crossing the bridge to Union Train Station.
I didn't find my way to Union Train Station immediately. I had to ask someone for directions. I thought I was asking a hipster. It wasn't until he was showing me the way by walking with me that I realized he was quite a scary drunk homeless guy. It was when he offered me a sip of some powerful looking booze that all the pieces fell into place. I declined his offer though as it was still pretty early in the morning.
At the train station they told me that there are only a few trains a day to Salem and that the next one would be in four hours.
Luckily I have a vague knowledge of Portland so I walked around in the snow,went to the few record shops I know and started looking for a shop that would sell me issue 15 of Booster Gold. I couldn't find one anywhere. They seem to only sell art comics in Portland. Unless superhero comics are really popular and all get bought up the day they are released.
After walking around for four hours in the cold. I finally got my train.Bizarrely the train staff pair you up with a companion. I got a hippy. First he taught me Dominos which he beat me at. Then we played Connect Four he beat me at that too. After he had also beaten me a couple of times at cards as well he started to talk to me like I was simple. I wasn't in the mood for talking though so I just went with it. I think at one point we were both playing entirely different card games. Gin Rummy has a very broad definition. I escaped him when I had to go and do a phone interview with Pitchfork in a quieter part of the train. When I got off the train I walked back to the window where we had both been sat to say goodbye. He was no longer there. Perhaps he was a hallucination brought on by the cold.
Salem doesn't really have a train station. Just a patch of ground in the middle of nowhere where the train stops. I don't know Salem very well and wanted to get to a bit of it that had shops and people and maybe a bus stop and some coffee. So I shouted at the one person I could see.
"Hey, which way to civilization?"
They just glared at me. I think they thought that I was being sarcastic.
After getting off the train I walked for ages. I got some very confusing directions from a girl working in a Subway Sandwich. I think she thought I was traveling in a car. I wasn't.By the time I bumped in to a man called Rick. Her "ten minute" journey had already taken me forty minutes.
Rick was a lifesaver. He put me on the right bus and traveled with me a lot of the way home.He had been heading somewhere to get an X-Ray of some sort.He seemed absolutely fine to me but I didn't want to pry . Rick was very easy to chat to. I do tend to mumble though so I think Rick might have come away from our conversation thinking that my name is Eddie Brut that I am the lead singer of the Pixies and that I am in Salem to produce an album by a band called Black Francis. I think Rick might also be under the impression that Im a devout Catholic.
Rick was brilliant and helpful without being weird and better than that didn't feel the need to humiliate me by beating me at a lot of travel games I'd never played before. I think Rick might be my guardian angel.
I finally got back to my hotel at 6.45pm Eleven hours after I had left for Portland and Three and a half hours after I had arrived back in Salem
I very much doubt any of the people who helped me get home read my blog which is a shame as I'd like to thank them.
Thank you the man at the airport who gave me train information. Even though it was wrong.
Thank you the homeless man for walking me to Union Station and offering me some booze.
Thank you hippy for entertaining me on the train journey even though all I really wanted to do was listen to music. I did try and say goodbye to you
Thank you Subway Sandwich girl for the directions. I forgive you for not having time to distance ratio fully worked out.
Thank you Rick for talking me out of a walk home that, in hindsight, I would still be on now. I know neither of us had fallen over on the Ice when I said goodbye to you. I ended up falling three times.I hope you got home ok and didn't slip once.