Portland, Oregon 27/9
What do you call someone from Oregon? If they wanted to be stylish they might go for Oregonnais. Maybe those over the age of 85 could be described as Oregonners. In fact, they settle for the more prosaic Oregonians. There is a certain sense of pride in being an Oregonian. Probably because they have a wilderness to die for they are by some distance the greenest state in the US. Greenness also requires a degree of education and my suspicion is that the constituency representing the educated is a bit larger in Oregon than in somewhere with a more industrial recent history.
My hosts are Todd, who could be mistaken for an Oregonian but actually comes from California and Clare, whose family I have known since I was a teenager. Todd is a doctor, specialising in orthopaedics. He trained first as a lawyer, having started out to be a banker and, for all I know, may have qualifications in veterinary medicine, scuba diving and gold-panning in addition. I do seem to remember him being a student well into his 30s. He is delightfully laid back, save in one respect, which is a compulsiveness to tidy. My family will be sorry to learn that this affliction is not contagious. Clare is a proper lawyer but not at the moment, being a full time Mum to the four children. She is the more mercurial antidote to Todd’s measured calmness and is the main conduit through which the children’s lives are played out. She wears her heart on her sleeve and you know that her brood mean more to her than the world. Amazing, too, that they have four such different children. Ben, who sails blissfully through life, even as a 16 year old; Alexandra ( no abbreviations, please ), who is darker than the others in complexion and in whom I detect steeliness and no little organisational ability; Oliver ( 9 ), who is just a hoot and a real monkey/livewire but will be the one who causes most lost sleep and Amelia ( 7 ) who I think is seriously clever and with a stubbornness that will precipitate some interesting moments. They have all been so friendly, warm and welcoming that I have felt hugely at home. It has been the ideal way to ease more gently into America and I feel a bit more confident about what lies ahead as a consequence.
We had a grey and drizzly day yesterday. Church in the morning ( might pastor Rick just cut some of the theatricals and let the Bible do the talking? ) followed by a quick lunch and a drive up the Columbia River valley. We then walked up a trail to some spectacular falls before coming back to observe the Sunday evening ritual of the football match on TV. Jets 31 Dolphins 23.
Pick up hire car and off to St Helens tomorrow. The tour starts.