Poke around the Shanghai Tunnels they said..

I want to tell you a little story about an experience I had when I first moved to portland. I went on a haunted ghost tour of downtown portland found here.

I did this for a variety of reasons:

  1. It was cheap entertainment for the evening.
  2. Gave me an opportunity to walk around like a tourist.
  3. Also, gave me a chance to hang out with my very cool friend Jessica.
  4. I like dark stories when they involve architecture and secret compartments.
  5. Even better if they feature some sort of dastardly secret society hell bent on kidnapping you and using you for nefarious purposes.
  6. I can use these stories later to not-impress family and friends when they come to town to visit me.
  7. I do believe in ghosts.
  8. I do believe that alcohol can make the above mentioned points even better.

The evening started off mild and wet. I met up with my friend Jessica and ghost hunting partner at a local bar downtown called Oldtown Brewing. This bar is renown for its excellent beer, excellent pizza and haunted and terrifying past.

“Old Town Pizza sits in what used to be called the Old North End, a section of the city with a rather questionable reputation. Despite the upstanding clientele of the Merchant Hotel, even it was known for offering one of the oldest professions in the world: prostitution. As legend goes, one of the young “working women” was Nina, sold into this life by a thriving white slavery market. In an effort to clean up the neighborhood, traveling missionaries convinced Nina to share information in exchange for freeing her from a fate she did not choose. Nina cooperated but soon afterward was found dead in the hotel, now Old Town Pizza. Thrown down the elevator shaft, Nina is reported to have never left the building. Could it be Nina who carved her name in the brick of the old elevator shaft, now the backdrop of a cozy booth in the rear of the restaurant?” https://www.otbrewing.com/haunted-past

The beer was good though, plus they had karaoke. Bad karaoke can make you wish you were dead, so that was close enough for me. I did not meet Nina, there was no hovering over my pizza while karaoke played, but I did hear a neat story told by a great storyteller.

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Entrance to the tunnel proper
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Entrance to the bowels of hell. No really just stairs to the basement.
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The weird tunnel is in the back that just leads off.
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Where we had our story time. No seance this time. 
shaghai tunnels
Old AF stairs that lead down into the basement. 

 

After our food, beer, and story where concluded. We headed down single file to the back of the restaurant and filtered through a series of hallways and stairs that lead down into the dusty and dimly lit basement. The room looked old by the wood lathe used on the walls. It smelled dusty, moldy, but with the never mistaken smell of rising pizza dough.  You can tell that it had not been used as a busy space in years except by GHOSTS! haha no really, it was pretty well not used. In the corner of the basement was a dark and cordoned off hallway that lead.. well..it led away into darkness.  I am not trying to be all mystical or scary movie-ish. It literally led out into the darkness around the corner. It was a weird hallway. We were not allowed to follow the hallway into the great beyond. My inner goonie was screaming. Apparently it is dangerous to walk around pitch black tunnels in the middle of the night that may or may not be used for slave trade and/or drug running. They could get sued. All I heard was blah blah you are ruining my fun.

nintchdbpict000000981150

The tour continued around downtown from there. It is a walking tour after all. The guide walked and pointed and the tour group nodded sagely and occasionally took pictures. I know we visited the Bensen Hotel, which is a marvel of wood and crystal and makes me feel both very fancy and underdressed at the same time. Apparently it is said to be haunted by the ghost of the previous owner, Mr. Bensen. No freaky apparitions of men from the 1930’s wearing expensive suits were seen. I did however have another drink.

A little bit of trivia, “The Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell died in his hotel room at the Benson Hotel on November 12, 2008 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benson_Hotel)”

I hive-fived his ghost while washing my hands in the ladies loo.

 

 

 

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Portland Bucket List

I am never one to shy away from a bucket list or reading list of any sort or really.. anything numbered.

I feel like I haven’t been doing much of anything lately and that is rough on me psychologically. I suffer from “I need to get things done or my life is being wasted syndrome.” Followed closely by, “I’m tired and don’t want to get out of bed (depression)” and “I am to freaked out by the immensity of living that I am just going to curl up into the corner over here and rock back and forth (anxiety).”  Basically it’s fun to do things, it’s fun to not be sad and it’s fun to be like, “I did that, I level up myself.”  So I made a happy list that I will update regularly. Also, if anyone has any additions that I can add I would love that! I am all about trying stuff. If I end up trying it, ill write a post about it.

  1. Eat at a food cart
    1. Do a food cart hop
    2. Do a bar hop
  2. Get caught in a downpour on your way home.
  3. Float the river
  4. Try worlds hottest fritter.
  5. try worlds largest pancake
  6. Swim in the Willamette
    1. Swim across the willamette
  7. Hike to the top of Multnomah Falls
    1. Hike to the bridge at the falls
  8. Eat all the donuts..
    1. Old Dirty Bastard at Voodoo Donuts.
      1. Better yet, do this at 2 am because why the hell not.762f8517dfefd20c695debfd6d7ce571
    2. Blue Star Donuts. All I can say is “yaaaaaaas Queen” You so fancy.o
    3. 180 Donuts. Their Instagram looks fabulous.
    4. Delicious Donuts
    5. Pips Original Donuts
  9. Have a Spanish coffee at Huber’s
  10. Go skiing in the summer
  11. Watch the sunset from the Bluffs
  12. Get lost in the corn maze on Sauvie Island
    1. Pick berries at sauvie island
  13. Wake up hoarse from all the yelling and screaming at a concert.
  14. Understand, conceptually, how to make beer
  15. Complain about gentrification
  16. Eat two dozen wings at Whiskey Soda Lounge while waiting for a table at Pok Pok… and drink about half a dozen whiskey sours.
  17. Be “that guy” on a distillery tour
  18. See the Vaux’s Swifts fly into Chapman School
  19. Go to a strip club
  20. See the West Coast’s oldest drag queen
  21. Talk your way out of getting fined on the MAX
  22. Read an entire book on the floor of Powell’s
  23. Smell the roses At the International Rose Test Garden.
  24. Poke around the Shanghai Tunnels
  25. Have an after-hours shot of fernet
  26. Listen to Elliott Smith while it’s raining
  27. Visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  28. Have your “art” featured in a coffee shop
  29. Visit the largest park in city limits: Forest Park
  30. Buy pot. Legally.
  31. See a local comedy show
  32. Visit the ZooLights
  33. Visit Sunshine lights thing
  34. Visit the street of decorations
  35. Judge the people in line at Voodoo Doughnut
  36. Get a tattoo.
  37. Watch porn with a crowdSure, Hump! Film Festival.
  38. Watch the sunrise from Mount Tabor
  39. Watch the Naked Bike Ride
  40. Visit Pittock Mansion
  41. Visit the Japanese Garden
  42.  Chinese Garden
  43.  Rhododendron Garden
  44. Starks Vacuum Museum
  45. Go to a brewpub Movie Theater
  46. See the smallest park in the world
  47. Take a picture under the keep portland weird sign
  48. Visit the Witches castle in Forest Park
  49. See the Jetliner in the woods
  50. Visit the Towering Redwood Grove
  51. Visit Powells books
  52. Take a photo in the photo booth at Ace Hotel
  53. Get a picture of the Paul Bunyan Statue
  54. Visit the set of the Goonies House
  55. Get Pictures of Castle Rock
  56. Ride the aerial Tram
  57. Visit Detention Liquor
  58. Play Dark Mini-golf
  59. Visit the Belmont Goats
  60. Visit the Freakybutttrue Peculiarium
  61. Eat Dirty Fries at Lardos
  62. Tacos at Por Que no
  63. Pancakes at slappy cakes
  64. Eat Pigeon at Le Pigeon
  65. Eat ice cream at Salt and Straw
  66. High five the Unipiper
  67. Drink a flight of whiskey at Multnomah Whiskey Bar
    1. Highland Stillhouse

Excerpts of the above list were taken from a few different sources and collated into something that works for me. All credit given to the original authors:

  1. https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/portland/portland-bucket-list
  2. http://www.bestfoodfeed.com

It All Started With a Clown Car – The Voyage Home

After three months, gaining ten pounds, and twelve ass gropes (groping of my ass, not me assaulting Italians); I start the journey home. I am reminded of one of the great movies of modern cinema. Homeward Bound – The Incredible Journey 

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A much belied classic from my childhood. Oh Shadow you are too old!

 

I had an absolutely wonderful time at the villa. I learned a great deal about Roman architecture and got an opportunity to sketch great Italian masterworks, both new and old. I would say that traveling to Europe was the greatest event of my college career aside from graduating, but I was happy to be going home.

I realized the day that I needed to leave that I had made a terrible mistake.  As a side note, it seems that in my life I tend to miss important details. Especially if there is excitement involved. If there is excitement. I could be naked and covered in eels and I probably wouldn’t notice. The way that it worked out was I gave my presentation that I had been working on for a month to all the students and faculty. Sat down for a moment to take a breather and overheard a conversation.

“What time is your plane?”

“8 am, what time is yours?”

“3 in the afternoon, you know the trains don’t run till 9 and you have a 4 hour train ride ahead of you”

Oh holy shit. Oh bullocks. Oh fudge. oh damn… oh shite. I haven’t packed and my flight leaves a 7 am. IN MILAN! Which means dear reader, that I need to be on a train within an hour with all of my crap from my journey here plus: six bottles of wine, a bottle of olive oil, a new purse, rolls of parchment drawings, a painting,  a agate stone, a new glass necklace, and a glass statue. Seriously I bought a glass statue in Venice. I am of the “It’s awesome, I’ll figure it out later,” variety. This also meant that I had no where to sleep tonight. If all else fails, I can create a fort out of my luggage on the side of the road and huddle inside.

Commence packing. Actually no, that is not an accurate description of what happened. Commence the fastest packing in the history of all packing. Commence chucking multiple things that I did not use this summer. Hair dryer, who was I kidding. Swim suit, I will buy another. Toiletries, I will stink. I shoved, I pulled, I sang lullabies to those bags till they closed. And close they did with the help of some duck tape.

I realized a small snag in my victory. What do I do with all the wine, olive oil, and sculpture? I bought them,  I will steadfastly carry it across my chest like some deranged wine bomb. Wine is not heavy at all! (I should have just drank the damn wine, all six bottles, and they could Medivac me to Milan.) We pile into the car. My instructor looks at my wine bomb sideways.. I smile the smile of desperation and glee.  My roommate had to fit the clown car with all of their luggage as well so she sat on my lap with her face pressed against the windshield, like a mime that is saying, “help me, we need a bigger car.”

We arrived down the hill at breakneck speed. Our combined weight, plus that of the luggage allowed the car to be pulled down the hill. I doubt the instructor had to even put it into gear. We landed with a squeal and smoking tires at our stop just as the sun was setting. It was picturesque. Trash blowing in the wind  and then getting caught on my luggage. The smell of urine and bougainvillea wafting by. A lowly mosquito landing on my arm and receiving a just death. Ahhhh Italy. How I will miss thee. I want to point out that Italy is a beautiful country full of wonderful people, but this train station smells like pee and has bums everywhere.

We hop on to the night train heading for Genova.

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The main train station is freaking enormous. Squeak, squeak, drag, drag. “Excuse me lady coming through with luggage. Oh scuzi. Sorry about your toe.” Picture courtesy of http://www.depeck.info

The train ride to Genova was blissfully quiet and empty. The air conditioner was on and it was wonderful. I created a fort of luggage around me and put my feet up. I dared anyone to say anything by sporting a manic look, and twitching a bit.  I only wanted to set fire to my luggage once at this point. From there, we took another train to Milan. Again uneventful save for dragging it through the huge terminals. At this point I have bruises on my shoulders from my “wine bomb” across my chest.

We hop on the train from Genova to Milan, then take a bus and arrive around midnight. Nothing is open. Of course we are all starving. I have learned to use the Euro, and I want to use it to buy some damn food. My flight does not leave for 6 hours. I am exhausted and have not slept in 30 hours. I pulled an all nighter the night before working on my final project. So I am slap happy. I try to play cards, but I cannot focus on anything. I go hunting for a place to wall myself up in. Low and behold I spy a space behind the elevators. My roommate and I make a wall of luggage blocking off us from view, curl into a little ball on the dirty linoleum and sleep the sleep of a child on Tylenol.

I wake up four hours later and wipe the gravel and drool off of my left cheek. It was wonderful. When you are that tired, any sleep is welcome. Even if it is behind a elevator shaft that infrequently gets cleaned. I turn my luggage in to the counter, I almost want to draw faces on the individual pieces of luggage and name them. They have been my constant companion on this voyage home. Sort of like Tom Hanks with “Wilson.” Except mine would be, “Samsoniteeeeee!” Or Sami for short. We don’t stand for formality.

cast-away-wilson
Willlllssssssooooonnnnn!

I trudge onto the plane. I smell amazing, and I pity my seat companions. The plane takes off and I leave my second home. It was the grandest adventure of my life up until that point and life changing. I will always remember the good and bad of Italy and be thankful that I took the chance offered to me to travel in college. It has shaped so many aspects of who I am now as an adult in my thirties, and I think I am better for it.

Things I learned on my Voyage home:

  1. I am not carrying anything to Europe. I’ll stuff cash and my passport into my bra.
  2. Every place I pass that has food, I am going to purchase some. I am not going to starve and live off of airline food.
  3. All joking aside, I am serious about the passport and my bra. Screw luggage.

 

It All Ended With A Clown Car

“Hey, people who travel with their bed pillow. You look insane. ” – Jim Gaffigan

I was a terrible packer and a worse traveler. That is to say, I didn’t know a damn thing about how to travel or what I was in for. All I knew was that I needed my hair dryer, curling iron, bed pillow, and a selection of hardback books. Yes. Hardback. I was flying to Italy via New Jersey, and somehow I was going to make it from where I landed, Milan, to a small Italian hill town in northwestern Italy with all of my luggage. Which included  a very large very heavy rolling bag, a second large and very heavy rolling bag, a backpack, shoulder bag, purse, and bedroll. Someone at sometime was going to meet me at the airport and guide me to my new home for the next three months. I had no idea who or when they where and when they where going to show up. I had no idea how to use the euro, or exchange rates or any damn thing. I was a traveling idiot.

adult-tropical-tourist-costume
Me, but with more luggage. 
After 12 hours of flying and many time zones, I arrive at my destination. Only to sit for six hours on pins and needles waiting for someone to come get me. I finally see one of my instructors arrive off of a bus. He is carrying a single bag and looks like an avid traveler. When he sees me, he pauses. “is this your luggage?” I reply with an enthusiastic, “yes!” He sighs. He knows he is going to have to help me carry my plethora of bags across Roman-dom. (Get it. Instead of Christendom. Dumb joke, moving on.) Now in my very USA mentality, I am thinking we are going to pop into a mini-van and be at our destination in an hour. No problem. At this point I have been traveling for 18 hours straight. I was blessed with many useful abilities, sleeping in public a la plane was not one of them. So I am slap happy making dumb jokes. I look like a complete tool ready for excitement. So I grab my nearest bag, all 60 pounds of it and start to drag it to destinations unknown. Squeak squeak. Also, I might add that I have not eaten anything in 6 hours except for a Nutragrain bar I surreptitiously packed because I have no idea how to use the money.

We walk out of the airport and I am surrounded by very chic Italians going places in their Manolos. I am rocking some Nike’s and my camera. I am oblivious, and frankly I am starting to sweat. Milan is hot, I also didn’t check the weather, Sticky horrible hot. My teacher leads me over to a large bus. We have to take a bus to a train station on the other side of Milan. I lumber over, dragging my luggage. Beads of sweat are starting to rain down upon the baking pavement. I load the luggage into the bus and get on. It is a non-air conditioned bus. I have now entered the seventh circle of sweaty hell. Me being me I try to look out the window and see some of the sites of Milan. There are lots of multi-colored flags hanging out windows that say “Pace.” I had no idea what that means and I have other problems. Namely the pool of sweat I am sitting in.

Aside from that, the bus trip is uneventful. Busses seem to be the same where ever you travel to. Kinda scary, but mostly safe. No seat belts. We arrive at the train station and it is HUGE bustling place. I have never seen anything like it in the states. We just don’t use trains like this. Squeak, squeak, drag, drag, sweat, sweat. Our train is on the other side of the train station and it is packed.  So carrying 200 lbs. of luggage, and bumping into the odd Genovian, I make my way to the train. Which is of course totally crowded, I died a little bit inside.  At this point I really wanted to set my luggage on fire and damn the consequences. “Excuse me, Excuse me. Pardon me, lady with luggage coming through.” This train does not have air conditioning either, but thankfully it does have open windows. Thank god. I stick my face out of it like a German Shepard and wait for whatever is going to happen next.  I am enjoying the sticky breeze, when an older Italian woman starts yelling at me in Italian about rolling up the window. I whimper and roll up the window. I am now her bitch. I should have told her to shove it, but I did not want to seem like an asshole American. I ride the train for 3 hours. Eventually I get a seat, which is a godsend. I also had one of the coolest moments of my life. Going through a very long tunnel with the windows open and no lights. I thought I knew what dark was until I was in the middle of that tunnel. The coolness and darkness was such a relief I could have cried.

I arrive at Genoa where we are to switch trains, again. This time it is a much smaller train. Squeak ,squeak, drag, drag, sweat, sweat. I lumber on like Sisyphus with his stone. This one does have air conditioning and I am eternally grateful. We ride this train for another hour and arrive at a train station that is out in the boonies. At this point I have not eaten. I have no idea how to procure food. I am starting to get ravenous, and thinking what my instructor would taste like with bbq sauce. Either I eat him or I am going to eat my luggage.  I follow my instructor around the back of the train station and he takes me to a minivan! No just kidding. He takes me to a clown car that is the smallest car I have ever seen. I laugh uncontrollably and scarily at this point. My luggage weighs more than this car.

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Yup I think this is the car.
I need to preface the next part of this journey with, I am 6′ tall and a rather large person. So I laugh hysterically. My instructor looks at me with concern. We pack the back of the car, Jenga style with my luggage and start the final leg of our journey. Loaded down the car can’t go over thirty miles an hour and we have a big hill to climb to the villa. A really big hill. 15 mins later traveling up the shoulder we arrive at the final destination. We unload everything and I head to my room. My instructor takes pity on me and feeds me a bowl of soup and a glass of wine. Which was ambrosia. It could have been boiled horse ass and I would have slurped it up with bread.  I head into my room where my cot awaits and sleep for 15 hours.

Things I have learned on the first leg of this journey:

  1. I am not traveling to Europe again with more than a paper lunch bag sized purse. Thats it. Screw it. I’ll buy clothes when I get there.
  2. I am going to learn how to use money from a youtube video beforehand.
  3. I am going to understand where I am going.
  4. I am still going to wear tennis shoes.

 

Soon!! “It all Began with a Clown Car – The Voyage home.”

The Life List

This will be a very “listy” post. For obvious reasons, see title.  I thought it would be a good idea to get some of my goals and stuff up and crossed off. I know, super long list and it is constantly getting updated. This is by no means all of them. But a good start and I plan on writing posts about them:

 

Personal Goals


 

  1. Become and ordained Minister.
  2. Solve a Rubicks cube
  3. Fall in love and get married
  4. Have a baby
    1. Subsequent baby calls me momma
  5. Create a Rube Goldberg Machine
  6. Find a conch shell. The Conch Catastrophy
  7. Walk a mile backwards
  8. get a tattoo
  9. Break a bone And This Little Piggy Went Directly Into a Baby Gate and Broke
  10. Create and set off a thermite explosion
  11. Open a champagne bottle with a saber.
  12. Get fired, especially (but not limited to) when you’re getting fired because you want to get fired.  (Should happen to everyone at least once)
  13. Own a flame thrower
  14. Dance with my dad at my wedding
  15. Learn to BBQ some “Slap yo mama” ribs
  16. Save a life
  17. Go whale watching (Again, Thank you Bruce and Melissa)
  18. Cook a book
  19. Be able to do the scorpion yoga pose
  20. Have a hero.
  21. Be a hero.
  22. Meet your hero.
  23. Go ghost hunting.
  24. Lose 130 pounds (wow seems like a lot! It is a freaking lot. Oh well)
  25. Become a published author
  26. Have my artwork displayed in a gallery (When I was 12, but still counts)
  27. Publish a children’s book
  28. Restore a classic car
  29. Restore an old house
  30. Hug a redwood  The Redwood Didn’t Hug Back..Jerkface
  31. Start a blog! (it can be found here :P)
  32. make a 16 hour full day playlist  (I am on Spotify if you want to find me)
  33. Read a book about every american president
  34. Swim / stand under a waterfall (one in Zion pushed me flat to the ground)
  35. Ride a harley
  36. Cruise in a ferrari
  37. swim with dolphins
  38. Become a vegetarian (for 6 months, but I did it)
  39. Taste the finest wine. (Sweet surrender – from Keyways Winery)
  40. read the top 100 books (List can be found here Modern Libraries Reader’s List)
  41. run a marathon
    1. 3.5r
    2. mini
    3. 1/2
    4. whole
  42. Have 100,000 in savings
  43. Have 10,000 in savings
  44. Have 1,000 in savings
  45. Have 10 bucks in savings
  46. Own a 1971 Mach 1 mustang (have only hugged one, and drooled from afar)
  47. Dye hair black and blue
  48. Dye hair red and black
  49. Read the Kama sutra
  50. Know the names of all the American presidents
  51. Memorize the rhyme of the ancient mariner
  52. Complete a triathlon
  53. Walk a labyrinth  
  54. Help Lisa Fly in a plane
  55. Roll around in 20’s like the 3rd rate rap star that I am
  56. Roll around in 50’s like the 2nd rate rap star that I am
  57. Roll around in 100’s like the 1st rate rap star that I am
  58. Change my own serpentine belt
  59. Change my own brakes
  60. Change my own oil
  61. Rotate my own tires
  62. Fly my car 30 feet
  63. make 1000 paper cranes
  64. Attend the Nebula Awards (Thank you Bruce and Melissa. You made one of my dreams come true)
  65. Meet Neil Gaiman (I hugged him)
  66. See a major league baseball game
  67. Participate in a food fight
  68. Read 1000 books
  69. Be photographed in the Iconic breakfast at Tiffany’s pose.
  70. Get a blue box from Tiffany’s.
  71. Go grape stomping
  72. Experience a white christmas
  73. Hug a pug (Lisa, I miss your pugs. Snort snort)
  74. Watch over 100 artists live in concert.
    1. Dave Mathews
    2. Dave Mathews and Tim Reynolds
    3. Elton John and the red piano
    4. Reba Mcentire
    5. Rodrigo y Gabriella
    6. Metallica
    7. Godsmack
    8. U2
    9. Black eyed peas
    10. Buckeye cherry
    11. Cypress Hill
    12. Kitty
    13. nonpoint
    14. Cherry Poppin Daddies
    15. Big bad voodoo Daddy
    16. Big bad voodoo Daddy
    17. New Kids on the Block
    18. The killers
    19. Phil Lesh and Trey Anastasio
    20. The Black Crowes
    21. Damien Marley
    22. Godsmack
    23. Deftones
    24. Homegrown
    25. Incubus
    26. Stone Temple Pilots
    27. The Keller Williams Incident featuring Keller Williams backed by The String Cheese Incident
    28. Big and Rich
  1. Watch a Cirque du Soleil show. (Seen a few, those crazy bastards)
  2. Kiss under mistletoe
  3. Experience zero gravity
  4. Go to a drive in move (many times as a kid)
  5. Test-drive a car you can’t really afford
  6. Try on jewelry you can’t afford. (Tried on a pinky ring that cost a half million dollars)

 

Continue reading “The Life List”