What I Did On My Holidays


Chapter 30

Just Another Sunny Sunday

28/11/99
Day 22

Today was a sunny day in Portland. A rare event in late Autumn, and just the excuse the Waylands were looking for to get us out of their hair. They kept saying what a wonderful day it was to see the zoo, and had they mentioned what a great zoo Portland has.

This was:
(A) understandable that they didn't want to spend every second of their Thanksgiving weekend with us,
(B) fine because zoos are ok places to go,
and (C) untrue.
(The untrue bit was about wanting to get rid of us. It was a good day to see the zoo and it was a good zoo to see. In Portland anyway. If, for example, one were in Melbourne, Melbourne zoo would be much better to go see.)

Before dropping us at the station to catch a train to the zoo, John took us to THE hill for a view of Mt. Hood and Mt. St Helens. (THE hill does actually have a more widely recognized title, probably something with "hill" in it or maybe "lookout", but I can't remember it*. All I can remember is a story that I heard about it which sadly is classified and can't be repeated. I would have to kill you if I told it and that would be bad. Firstly, it would reduce the number of return visits you made and secondly, the HTML standard does not support the <kill> command. No, the expression "killer application" is purely figurative.) So the view was good. These two snow capped mountains were sticking up, gleaming in the sunlight, looking a long way off, but crystal clear. Cool.

The entertaining thing about the train to the zoo (and let's face it, there aren't many entertaining things about commuter trains) was the fact that the nearest station to the zoo is three hundred feet below the zoo. Not down a hill below, but in a tunnel under the zoo below.

Trains being trains, don't like the steep slopes of this particular ridge, so they put a tunnel straight through instead, passing under a cemetery in the process. Initially, there were many people dead against this (sorry). Before construction began, there were a whole whack of religious ceremonies held in every religion anyone could think of. As we entered this tunnel, we fervently hoped no one's god was offended. There was no noticeable heating or flaming inferno / burning pits type effects as we descended below ground level, so I guess things were ok. I'm sure the high pitched squeals we heard were just the steel wheels on the tracks, not unhappy bad people.

(Note: to the best of my knowledge, none of the residents of the cemetery have complained about the train to date.)

The zoo station has a three hundred foot core sample of the rocks above you, with labels of the geological strata and their ages. This theme is carried on to the lifts up to the surface. Instead of having dull conventional labelling of "Ground floor" and "Sub, sub, sub, sub, sub, sub, sub, sub, sub basement", they get "Today" and "x million years ago" (the "x" is really a number that I've forgotten).

Once you make it to the surface, there's a zoo. It has animals and stuff.


* John does remember the name (as he should being a local) and the name is : Rocky Butte. And guess what... it doesn't have "hill" or "lookout" in it. Sneaky lot these Oregonians. (back)


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