Canby to Portland & a Cab Ride to Camas, WA…8/28

When I had dinner last night an old-time trucker told me I ought to consider taking a bus from Canby to Oregon City (about nine miles away).  He advised they had some major highway construction taking place and often there was no shoulder to ride on.  So  the next morning I went to the transit station and was able to take the bus for….free!  Starting in Oct they will begin to charge a small fee but as of now it was free…I like free.

The bus was crowded and I had a hellofa time getting those big 29″ wheels into their carriers (time for the carriers to consider a new wheelbase).  The bus was crowded because Oregon City is a big transit station for busses continuing into Portland.

A textile mill (I think) in Oregon City.

It wasn’t too long before I found myself in downtown Portland.  I’m not a fan of riding into major cities because like many cyclists I hate the traffic and don’t know my way around Portland at all.  Thankfully the Garmin made short work of it.  The reason for the trip downtown was twofold.  I wanted to stop by Renovo Hardwood Bicycles and go to the Apple store downtown.

Earlier in the year I had taken all my black walnut wood Gene salvaged to Renovo.  Renovo makes bicycle frames from laminated hardwoods and I want them to incorporate that black walnut into a bike for me.  It’s worth your time to look them up on the net, http://www.renovobikes.com to see the works of art they produce.  I took several photos, but sent the SD card back home without downloading, so you really ought to check out their site!

I didn’t want to take the bike to the Apple store downtown because I knew it would be a pain to get there and I wanted to know my bike would be there when I came out, so John, the shop foreman allowed me to leave it with them.

I grabbed a cab and a short time later was in the store buying an Apple Nano.  This very small, lightweight iPod can be worn on your wrist like a watch.  Very cool!  Then it was back to the shop and another cab ride across the mighty Columbia.  I forgot how big this river is and all the commercial traffic that plies its way up and down.

I hopped back on the bike and began riding to Camas, WA.  I was riding through a very upscale residential neighborhood so was surprised when I came across a sign “Big Boyz Bicycles”.  Needless to say I turned around and took a look at the neighborhood bike shop.  The owner explained that his lease had been too expensive so he got the local city council to approve his new location.  He said he lost a good chunk of business but it was offset by lowering his overhead.  He seemed pleased with his decision.  His passion for what he does is evident.

I continued on to Camas which consisted of rides through a very upscale rural area.  It is a beautiful area full of small farms combined with nice urban conventions.  This is the second small town which I think is worth settling in (just a thought for all of you looking).

I got to the Camas Hotel (which at first glance is the sole hotel) and was told by Amanda they had availability to the tune of $135….ahh not!  She must have seen some kind of look in my eye, I’ll leave it up to you whether it was charm or homicidal maniac, and told me that if I’d be willing to wait a bit she had a room that was opening up for $50.  I told her I was sure I could find some place to tide me over while the room got ready.

After a whole five minutes of searching I found the Birch Street Uptown Lounge.  As soon as I walked in I knew I was in a trendy upscale establishment.  Dennis, the bartender, was clad in a white smock…the type worn by a pharmacist.  Very cool.  Dennis is an older gentleman and it was immediately obvious he would rather show someone the door for ordering a Slippery Nipple than ever consider serving them.  He’s a classic and I heartily approved.  Now after having said all that I had the moxie to order up a bourbon Negroni.  A Negroni is very much an Italian cocktail and most find it an acquired taste (how I acquired mine is another story altogether).  Mind you I only ordered it when I saw the bottle of Campari on the shelf, so I knew I wouldn’t be shown the door.

Only two other patrons were at the bar; Greg, an older gent who works for a local company  as a finance guy drinking a Manhatan, and Brandon, who sat at the opposite end of the bar working on a glass of red wine.  As things are wont to do, the conversation came about as to how I came to be here…and we were off!  Stories came from each of us and it made the time fly by.

I had noticed while sitting there at the bar enjoying the conversation that a rather disturbing scent wafted through the area from time to time.  I mentioned that perhaps I should see if my room was ready and a shower could be had when Greg, with a big smile on his face said “good, I don’t think the candles can hold out for much longer”.  Many laughs were had and I went off to get cleaned up but not before I threatened to come back after dinner.

My room was on the third floor, but Amanda, God bless her, allowed me to store my bike behind the front desk.  I only had to lug two of my four panniers up the stairs.  I emerged from my room clean, shaved and smelling remarkably better.

I had been told I should go see Todd at Nuestra Mesa (Our Table) for some eclectic Mexican food.  As soon as I walked in I met Todd.  A very friendly guy who started his first restaurant in Sayulita (just north o Puerto Vallarta) many years ago (although he’s young so it couldn’t have been that many years ago).  He met his future wife there and ended up in Camas opening this wonderful place.  We enjoyed some conversation and tequila.  It wasn’t too long before I realized they were ready to close up for the night so I said my goodbyes and headed back to the lounge.

Dennis greeted me like a long-time customer as I sidled up to the bar.  Just after I got there Brandon showed up with his girlfriend (forgive me for not recalling her name).  The three of us shared a couple bottles of red as well as good conversation.  Brandon owns a chain of stores in the Pacific Northwest and has given consideration of opening another in Pullman.  Who knows, perhaps Aaron and I could work together???

We kept the place open till damn near 1am before calling it a night.  I feel now as I did when I first rode into town…this is a special place.

The newly renovated theater in Camas
The front of the wonderful Camas Hotel.

2 Comments

  1. Such a pleasure meeting you. Brandon and I are glad you enjoyed Camas as well. Your biking trip was the topic of conversation at my bar the next afternoon. It lead to everyone at the bar telling stories of road trips and random vacations. Enjoy your voyage. Keep in mind there is always red wine and a warm bed in camas for you at our place.

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