I'm settling in for the evening, and I can now take the time to regale you with tales of my exciting voyage. As previously mentioned, I showed up considerably earlier to Pearson that I really needed to. I have never, ever been the only person in a departure lounge before.
As an aside, I usually move my pictures over to the left, but this time I'm going to leave them at the default centered position. We'll see how I feel about that when I see the finished product.
At any rate, I watched the news, read a little bit, and played around on the internet for awhile. I had free Wi-Fi available to me in both the Toronto and Vancouver airports, and I've got to say that this is a trend I thoroughly approve of. Airports are generally dull, boring places, and anything they can do to improve the environment is a step in the right direction.
Speaking of trends I'd like to see continue to spread, the seat backs in the plane to Vancouver were furnished not just with touch-screen entertainment consoles, but with USB and 110V power outlets! Let's see more of that please!
Yeah, that's right, I was so happy about the power outlet that I took a picture of it. I didn't actually USE it, but I COULD have, and that's what's important. Actually, I should amend that to I SHOULD have used it... I almost ran out of juice on my phone by the time I got to Portland. Oops. Oh well, it hung in there like a trooper and got me where I needed to be.
I'm getting a bit ahead of myself though. Prior to my arrival in Portland I did have one small adventure. The layout of the Vancouver airport is lovely, and with my checked bag being forwarded on to Portland there was nothing for me to do but stroll casually through security as is my usual procedure. Oh wait, scratch that. I'm not sure if I said, or did something funny, if I just got flagged for a random check, or if the uniformed gorilla they had behind the desk thought I seemed suspicious, but I ended up being told to "follow this man." That's a phrase, by the way, which never leads to good things in an airport. Actually, the secondary screening process was an exact duplicate of the first one, and really didn't give me any bother at all, but we've all heard tales of people being held in those processing areas for hours, and being interrogated and what not. Sure, the whole process probably added 15 minutes to the usual security song-and-dance, but it was a stressful 15 minutes. As an aside, why is it that the phrase "I'm going to visit a friend" seems to evoke such startled and suspicious reactions from security personnel? Is there something deviously criminal about the act of travelling to visit a friend? Bah, I won't turn this into a rant on airport security, that could take days. Just suffice it to say that I'd never been exposed to the deeper levels of security screening and that it was a fascinating experience.
I moved smoothly and quickly through the process of extracting myself from the Portland airport, and found myself at my hotel in what must have been record time. With the exception of the extra security step in Vancouver I've never had such a smooth, timely airport experience. I've got myself a nice room on the third floor here with a view out over a small pond behind the hotel.
I'm sure some of you are looking at that photo with it's bright spot and thinking "well look at that fool Colin, he's taken a photo out a window and left the flash on." I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. That is, in fact, an alien space craft. They're quite common around here.
Once I'd got settled in a bit Debbie came by to pick me up. It's an exceptionally interesting experience meeting someone in person for the first time whom you've known for at least a year. Needless to say I was thrilled to finally get to spend some time with my good friend in person. Of course, we were both zonked, her from working all day, and myself from travelling all day, so we kept the tour fairly simple. Still Debbie took me up to Rock Butte, a fairly high park in a reasonably central region of Portland that afforded a fantastic view of Portland and neighboring Vancouver.
We then traveled up to Vancouver for a bite to eat. After that we were still afforded a touch of daylight, so we made a quick pass down to the North shore of the Columbia River so that I could attempt to snap some dusk shots. My camera, being no great fan of low-light conditions, didn't avail itself very well of the cloudy dusk, but you can still get a sense at least of the sheer size of this monstrous river.
Shortly after snapping that shot Debbie dropped me off here so that I could organize my photos and treat you all to a blog post. My intention now, with that final task nearing it's completion, is to drag myself to bed. The plans for tomorrow are intentionally vague and will probably depend largely on what the weather decides to throw at us. Whatever the case I'm thrilled to be here, on the road again, in a beautiful city, and in the company of friends. A good end to a long day.