Yesterday I had an easy driving day, arriving in Aurora by noon. Icontinued on to Portland, about 20 miles north, and took a look around. I’dbeen in Portland before, a few years ago, and the city looked different thistime. In my memory, Portland was gray, cold, and industrial. This Portlandwas green and sunny. A nicer place.

I parked downtown looking for The Real Mother Goose, a craftsman’s gallerythat my friend Melissa told me I had to see. (Actually, she said “Oh! Oh!Oh! You *must* spend a day in Portland, and you *must* visit this gallery!”I could picture her jumping up and down with excitement on the other end ofthe phone line.)

Unfortunately The Real Mother Goose is closed on Sundays, so I went to theonly other place I knew there, Powell’s World of Books. PWOB is a HUGEbookstore, and well worth a visit if you’re anywhere in the area and lovebooks. They carry both used and new books, and the store fills most of adowntown block. You could easily browse for days.

Downtown Portland has a problem with street people, especially kids. Therewere a *lot* of 15-20 year old disaffected youth in the vicinity offPowell’s, and I saw quite a lot of open drug dealing. There was a parknearby with a soup kitchen set up and literally 1,000 people lined up forfood.

Talking with people, it appears that Portland has the same problem as SanFrancisco with vagrants. They’re welcome and supported, so folks come fromall over the northwest to Portland to hang out on the streets and drink ordo drugs. As a result, the public health and shelter systems are strained.

I’ve always considered myself pretty liberal, but I do believe that asAmericans we have both rights *and* responsibilities. I believe that thegovernment should provide us with support when we really need it, and Ibelieve in a baseline of socialized health care for everyone.

But I believe that we have major responsibilities as Americans. Healthypeople without young children to care for should be given work in exchangefor public assistance, even if it’s picking up trash. Wealthy peopleshouldn’t collect unemployment just because they can. John F. Kennedy hadit right. Rather than saying “what can I take from society”, people shouldask “what can I contribute?” Those who can’t contribute, we should support.Those who won’t contribute are simply parasites.

I also believe that if you’re abusing harmful drugs like alcohol ornicotine, the government has no obligation to slow down yourself-destruction. If you or your family can afford to pay for your owncancer treatment or liver replacement, fine. Otherwise, you’ll be allowedto die. I realize that this means that the rich have more freedom to bealcoholics, but they also have more freedom to drive Ferraris. That’s lifein a capitalist society.

I spent last night in Champoeg State Park, the birthplace of government inthe Pacific Northwest. It’s a beautiful park along the banks of theWillamette river, and about 5 miles from Tom Lengyel’s house. The parkfeatured electricity, showers, and beautiful shady trees overhead. It was anice place to spend the afternoon, and a quiet place to sleep. (Did Imention they had showers?)

I met Tom at his house at 8:30 this morning, and we immediately startedinstalling the decoupler he’d designed. It went in very easily, and tookabout 7 hours from start to finish. When we partially drained thetransmission oil, we noticed that the oil had a pearly sheen, which meantmetal shavings. Not a good sign. Originally we thought it might be causedby the new gearing I’d recently had installed, but later Tom pointed out asubtle ‘kick’ in third and fourth gear which indicated a bearing shiftinginside the transmission. Every time it shifts, it wears away a little.This is something I’ll have to get fixed when I return from this trip. Fornow, Tom changed the oil entirely, replacing it with Redline synthetic.

Adam Lengyel showed up, and the three of us buzzed around the back roads ofrural Oregon for a while. Tom and Adam seemed very happy with the way thevan is handling. We had dinner and watched a partial solar eclipse throughwelding goggles over beers. I dropped them off at Tom’s house, and I hit theroad again at around 7pm. I wanted to find some place interesting to campfor the night.

I drove out of the Portland area on highway 26, climbing through the townsof Boring, Rhododendron, and Zigzag. In Government Camp I noticed an arrowsaying “Historic Timberline Lodge, 10 Mi”, and I went. The road continuedclimbing, reaching tonight’s camping spot, 5900′ up on the shoulder of MountHood. There is snow outside my door, and the mountain looms outside my backwindow. Headlights move slowly across the snow above me, grooming skitrails during the night. I’m in the Historic Timberline Lodge Parking Lot,along with a couple of skiers in sleeping bags on cots, and a huge RV. TheRV is running its generator, growling about 100 feet away. It’s 11:30pm,and it seems like they’re going to run it all night.

I would move, but Mount Hood completely fills my rear window. It will bethe first thing I see when I wake up, and that’s easily worth a littlenoise.


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