We drove to Oswego today, with nothing particular in mind apart from to charge the car and try to meet friends we met camping up in Long Beach.
Oswego is basically the polar opposite of where we’re staying in Portland. It’s soulless boutique shops, posh ice cream and sculptures on every street corner, instead of homeless people on every street corner, hipster shops and scruffiness. This polish removes the cognitive load of worrying that your children are going to be exposed to some angry rant or a cloud of bong smoke, but also made me feel I might not belong there.
I charged the car after driving through the exit area of a car park. Maybe my glasses prescription needs updating. The kids found a park (well, a spot of sand at the end of a row of those expensive shops) to play in, then I moved the car to a slow charger in a parking garage to try to get it up to 100% charge.
It seems every other charger we use is managed by a different company, with a different app. This one was via Blink. Blink charge 10 cents more per kWh if you’re a guest than if you’re a member, and as a guest you need to scan a QR code on the charger, go to a website, enter credit card details and then get a code to type into the charger. Because the charger is in an underground garage with no cellular reception, that means you have to scan the QR code, walk up two flights of stairs, go to a website, enter credit card details, go back down those stairs, and then type the code in and start charging. Or try to sign up for an account to get the cheaper rate, then find that because Blink’s app doesn’t allow you to start a charge session (you need to wait a week while they mail you an RFID keyfob) and then traipse up and down those stairs three or four more times before giving up, getting another code and paying the extra 10 cents per kilowatt hour. (That’s about two dollars overall, which makes me question my economic outlook.)
Anyway, the kids were fine because they had ice cream at Salt and Earth (who do a curiously good goats cheese and habanero marionberry ice cream), and before that I’d eaten some great nopales and hongos tacos at Holy Tacos, and we’d committed to our new stance with the kids. Instead of going out of our way to find a place that serves fried chicken (La Serpiente) and totally plain hamburger (Destroyer) and then have them not eat half of it, and possibly complain, they get peanut butter sandwiches and we choose the food we want to eat. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that.
While we were there, I saw a sign for a Drvie In Concert in Oswego. A spelling mistake that obvious had to be intentional, right? It had to be a pun, because music is life is vie, right…? No. On the Parks & Recreation website, it’s definitely just a Drive In Concert, but there were huge, misspelt banners hanging off half the lampposts in Oswego. It’s good to see that upper middle class affluence can’t buy everything.
We taught the girls to play a drinking game, where you have to count while substituting every multiple of 3 with one word, and 5 with another. (The proper version is any number that’s a multiple of, or includes the digit, 7, or 5, but that’s too mean to start them on.) They got to 15 once, but I hope this prepares them for later life. I have a much worse one, where you count the number of factors of each number that aren’t 1, starting from 1: 0,1,1,2,1,3,1,3,2,3,1… but people would really hate me for that…
After a lot of walking around, I deposited the girls at the library in Oswego and went to get the car, and then we drove back to Portland. We had to pick up a new inflatable mattress, and while we were at New Adventure on the other side of the river, we had one of those spur of the moment decisions to go look for something fun, instead of going back to the hostel and having the girls eat more peanut butter sandwiches.
We went to Cartopia, which I’d read about as a collection of all the best food carts / trucks in non-Portland parlance. I was surprised to realise I’d actually been there two years ago, when I was down in Portland playing Blood Bowl. Cartopia is on the site of a former lunatic asylum, although one might say that’s true of all of Portland. The kids got to stare at funkily dressed people, I ate artichoke hearts and all was well until Destroyer grazed her mouth on a fork. Still, by getting her to put rubbish into the robot shaped trash cans helped her a bit.
Then we drove back, washed the kids and ourselves, and I tried to explain my sense of humour to Destroyer by showing her some Bassett’s Licorice All-sorts ads, and that led to showing her ten minutes of Tango ads, which I’d forgotten the sheer sophistication and metatextuality of (there’s one ad that’s ostensibly for Brussel sprouts that makes no mention of Tango, yet it’s clearly an ad for Tango), and then I read to them, and then I went to the shops to buy more blueberries, and maybe out of guilt at the start of the day, gave my last five dollar bill to somebody begging outside the supermarket.
And tomorrow, we leave for the countryside again…