Happy places

This morning we got up and went on a tour of doughnut shops. Well, La Serpiente and I got up first and went to get coffee round the corner (best latte I’ve had in Portland) and we we’d all had breakfast, we walked to Coco, got a lavender frosted old-fashioned, a maple doughnut for La Serpiente and a plain glazed for Destroyer, then lost an hour to Powell’s bookshop before getting to NOLA for beignets and cronuts.

After a quick trip to Whole Foods, I then bundled everyone in the car and we drove out to Vista Point, a 100-year-old building looking down on the Columbia River Gorge. Finally, I felt relaxed and happy after being on edge in Portland.

It was a glorious day and we could see for miles. I was there two years ago and it was even more spectacular than I remembered. We stared at it for a while, then drove downhill to some of the waterfalls that cover the area.

La Serpiente was being bolshy, much as she was when we started out in the Hoh Rainforest, and we had to have words with her, but when the kids were in the depths of the forest, they reverted to being charming and nice (mostly). We managed a few different falls before they began to reach the limits of our patience, and then we drove back to Portland, stopping at a couple of farms along the way, first to get honey and then more fruit. (I’ve now eaten two pounds of blueberries over the last two days.)

Getting back to nature really helped me to relax, so obviously the next thing to do was attend Thursday Night Motocross at the Portland International Raceway. I love the noise of motorsport (like God tearing sheet metal with His hands) and figured it was time to introduce the kids to this.

It’s odd. Motocross is a very proletarian sport; the parking lot is full of pick up trucks, not Ferraris. Everywhere there’s people blipping throttles, wearing enormous boots, occasional Blue Lives Matter t-shirts, not a mask in sight, but no rabid Trump signs (either it’s irrelevant or it’s a given?) and there’s not just a mass of white men; plenty of women racing and people of colour too. Almost everyone has tattoos, nobody looks effete, half the women seem to be dressed in pit girl uniform (short skirts, huge boots) but the rest are racing, nobody is drunk. Then again, it’s a Thursday night, everyone should be civil, right?

The noise is awesome, as expected. It starts with the shrill whine of 50cc engines, and eventually the 125s and bigger start up, which is when it feels like the ground is shaking. The kids are happier with the smaller engines, the blitzkrieg of the larger ones is a bit much for them (but that’s when it gets more impressive, so…). Marshalling left a bit to be desired. I’m used to crashes being flagged to warn the riders following, but here there was a case where a rider crashed going into a whoops section, and a marshal walked over to help him up – and the next rider came round the previous corner and went straight into the back of the marshall. Nobody seemed to be injured (the advantage of the 10 year olds riding together) but that could have been very nasty.

We wandered around the stands. Lots and lots of families, and at some point La Serpiente looked enviously at a girl her age, kitted out in full race gear, playing freeze tag with her siblings. She even asked if you can race while wearing glasses. Is there hope for me to live my MX fantasy through my kids? Dunno about that…

Drove away in our silent electric car, wondering what it would be like if MX races were all electric. And then to bed, competing for the bedtime story slot with the folk music night at the hostel. Took me thirty pages of The Thief Lord and a story about pigs to persuade them to sleep. But I got to do the things I wanted on holiday today, so I have to be thankful 🙂

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