Portland is not what you think! It is like when I went to Hawai’i one year. There was a volcano erupting. Everybody was freaking out that I was going. 1) volcanoes have been erupting in Hawai’i for millions of years. 2) I wanted to see the volcano erupting and the lava flow. It took an easy three mile hike and then a treacherous two mile hike to get there so I could play with the lava. I wasn’t planning on playing with lava here in Portland.

There are a lot of similarities, though, between Portland and that time in Hawai’i. The Big Island lost big money in revenue from tourists that were afraid to go. Portland is the same, with hotels now below the average of Hawai’i which has the two week lock down upon arrival.

I wasn’t sure about the whole thing, everybody writing to me was freaking me out, so I called a friend who lives in Portland to get the real situation. Lance explained it was only downtown, and only at night. As long as you stay out of there, you are fine. Like I said: I wasn’t planning on playing with lava here, so I heeded his advice. It’s a shame, though. I heard from a lot of people that downtown Portland was beautiful.

I’m an equal opportunity adventurer, hiker and explorer. As much as I love the hikes through mountains and national parks, I equally love driving through and hiking through cities. Just the drive through Portland was exciting for me. I love the bridges and highways, the overpasses and rivers. How the engineers layer the highways on top of each other to create the ramps and underpasses. Portland’s highways are more twisty than any other city I’ve been through. I kind of like that. Going across one bridge, I saw a floating pier jutting out into the river and people swimming and jumping off of it.

Portland is small as far as cities go I think. I’m staying southwest, in Tigard, and I can make the drive to the Northeast Portland in 20 minutes, though I swear it’s as much highway as a drive twice as much longer. Of course, it took me 40 minutes because I went at the wrong time and hit traffic. My GPS did pull me off the highway and I am pretty sure I was driving in downtown.

Coffee first, coffee always. Extracto Coffee Roasters. Not too bad. Not too bad at all. Portland is known for, among other things, it’s coffee, craft beers, and there are more universities than I can count. I also heard through conversations that it also has the most strip clubs per area than any other city. It is also known as human trafficking capital, so women have to be especially careful. No strip clubs though, just coffee.

Portland is also where I had my new batch of Kona sent. Yes, I am having my coffee supply sent to various addresses around the country. Will ten pounds be enough to make it back to Philly or will I be bothering someone else along my route? Will I need the coffee to bribe my way into Canada? Eh, it’s tough being me sometimes.

Tigard, where I am staying and also where I had my coffee sent, is home to a friend of mine. Lance owns Excel Orthodontic Lab. He is also the person that was voted in to replace me as president. He’ll do very well I think. I took the association as far as I could take it. He’ll be launching the AOLP v2.0 so I’m here helping out with that. I might even get paid? I’m helping to create content. I ran a zoom meeting/interview an it was fun being a journalist again. Now, however, I need to transcribe an hour long meeting.

I’ve been staying close to the city because of work and someone I met suggested the Grotto. It’s a place of sanctuary in northeast Portland, officially “The Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, is Roman Catholic ministry of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary.” It’s an amazing, quiet place. Peaceful and serene. The city outside seems to disappear.

The ground level holds a huge open air church. There are services regularly. Then, you take an elevator about 10 stories up to the grotto and sanctuary. One of the first places you go is the sanctuary house. You walk into reverie. It holds one of 12 official bronze statues, replicas, of Michelangelo’s Pieta,

Writer’s/Awful Photographer’s note: All pictures are mine. And good photos are completely by accident. For this column, I stole an image of Pieta from the internet because I could not do it justice.

Circles while I as reading the description of the Pieta. Pieta is an Italian word for pity, sorrow or compassion. It can also signify an act of mercy. Mercy seems to crop up a lot wherever I go. See my original post, Deeper into Aloha.

The Grotto is a beautiful place. Like the Temple grounds in Salt Lake City, there is just an unpressured welcoming. There is a walking path, with very few people on it due to the times, that takes you through an amazing landscape with plenty of benches to just sit and reflect. The one picture below was a shrine donated on behalf of the patron saint of the Poles. I’ll screw up the name because I don’t have the brochure in front of me. The Sisters of Chestehova? Like St. Mary’s back in SW Philly.

But I think the people who wrote about the Grotto put it best, so very apt at this time especially with what is going on in Portland and across the United States:

On May 29, 1924, three thousand people gathered for the first Mass and dedication of the Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother. At the blessing, Archbishop Alexander Christie offered this prayer:

“Let this be a sanctuary of peace for all peoples of the earth and surely in this day a sanctuary is needed. Torn with differences, strife, and grief, the world needs sanctuary where the human spirit can seek peace and consolation.”



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