What I Did On My Holidays


Chapter 29

Portland

27/11/99
Day 21

Today we were given a tour of Portland. John and Cheryl showed us some of the sights. One feature was St John's bridge. This is something of a misnomer as this bridge was the prototype of the Golden Gate bridge. So clearly it should have been called the Silver Gate bridge. I suspect that further north somewhere there is a stream with the Bronze gate bridge across it.

One thing I couldn't help but notice in Portland is that there are lots of freeways. You hit the off ramp getting off a freeway and find that it is splitting into two on ramps of two more freeways. But wait, there's more...

These freeways are concrete not asphalt. Why? To avoid the wheel ruts that appear in heavily used asphalt roads. Fine, but there are wheel ruts worn into the concrete. That's an awful lot of traffic.


And now for a brief word about American football. It's stooopid. Not only is there only ten seconds of play between each walk-around-and-pat-each-other-on-the-bum break, but they wear all this padding to make it look like they have big shoulders and huge thighs. It's only a matter of time before they start wearing codpieces. This is not a sport, it's a stage production of a half-hour highlights TV show. Soon the umpires will stop blowing their whistles and call "Cut!" instead.

Nuf said.


This evening, we met Otmar Ebenhoch. No, no one was being strangled, that really is his name. We also met his ... um ... vehicle, Stretch. Stretch, in the days before Stretch was Stretch, was two VW Vanagons, but the front fell off one and the back fell off the other. The remaining parts got  stuck together with a bit of Otmar's welding and some engineering. A zipper was painted over the join, and Stretch was born. The really amazing thing is that this has twice the wheelbase of a standard car but a smaller turning circle than many of the seventies gas guzzlers and modern day SUVs. The not so amazing thing is that a certain John Wayland installed a great stereo system in it and that there are three sub woofers under the rear-most bench seat. The really, really amazing thing is that Otmar knows John and still let him do it :)  The really not so amazing thing is the John turns the volume right up. I'll stop with the amazing bit now.


Stretch and Otmar : Parallel parking anybody?

Question: Why does American Chinese take-away food come in little square cardboard boxes while Australian Chinese take-away comes in the low slung plastic boxes with the impossible to remove lids? Such deep cultural divides...

The other highlight of the evening was a place called Victorian Mansion. (That was what's known as a pre-pun. You have to read the rest of the paragraph to get enough content to go back and spot the pun. Discerning readers may prefer to take the option of not going back, thus avoiding a pretty poor pun.) By day, Victorian Mansion just looks like a big old house (the defence may wish to leap up and cry "This is conjecture, the property was never viewed during the day!" The judge would then say "Sustained" and instruct the jury to ignore that comment. The gallery gets to make their own mind up on the matter.), but at night, Victorian Mansion is somewhat enhanced (presumably) by some Christmas lights. Virtually every edge is picked out by a row of lights; the roof, the windows, the trees, the fence, the neighbour's cat, everything. There are allegedly over three million lights. No wonder Pacificorp could pay so much for Powercor (Victorian electricity industry background required).


"Well, it seemed like a bright idea at the time"


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