I work twelve hour shifts, three days a week; those three days being Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I start at nine in the morning and get relieved at nine at night. So, Sunday night before we left on Monday morning, I got home and did whatever laundry I could prior to leaving. I did not sleep until almost midnight. The drive to Portland, according to the Mapquest map we printed out, suggested a drive time of around ten hours. Knowing the way that I drive, I figured we could come in under that. It was my intention to arrive in the Portland area around three in the afternoon, therefore our departure time had to be before five in the morning. This, of course, required us to be awake and somewhat coherent to walk out the door, and I allotted an hour of uptime in order to bring myself to a state of being capable of driving. Todd, on the other hand, stayed up all night playing Super Smash Brothers Melee on the Gamecube that I bought last week. He and Jody are absolutely insistent upon breaking that game apart and collecting as many of those trophies as possible. They’re getting pretty good at it, and usually if we play in versus mode, I’ll get my ass handed to me more often than not, but I’m starting to get back into the swing of things and learn as I go. I used to play the original Super Smash Bros on the N64, but this version is far superior than the original, not to mention all the neat little features and new characters you get to unlock.

We each packed a single backpack of clothes, enough for the intended three day-two night stay in Beaverton. I had planned on staying in Portland proper, but given the fact that most of the WNOHGB-ites lived outside of Portland, I opted to stay somewhere where perhaps I could depend on these three (, , and ) to guide me around and show me a little of the sights that I’ve been hearing about. When we arrived in Beaverton, we checked in to the Hilton Garden Inn. I’m a big fan of the Hilton chain, so I usually like to stay there whenever I go somewhere. It comes from having to go to as many Anime Expos as possible; each year I usually end up at either a Hilton or a Hyatt, both of which are really nice and usually pretty good about being understanding during some of the more difficult situations I’ve encountered with cash payments versus credit card payments. Anyway, the drive up was pretty uneventful, Todd slept some of the way but not all. We did get to see previously unexplored parts of Northern California (read: previously unexplored by me). When I drove to Seattle, I took US 101 most of the way up, because I wasn’t pressed for time. I recall the last time I drove it, it taking around twelve to thirteen hours thereabouts, and so I figured that since from the Oregon border to Seattle was only a couple of hours of drive time, that the figure of ten hours was a decent one to go on. Of course, we had our little problems along the way…

Southern Oregon is something I’ve never experienced before. I gassed up in Eureka the first time up, but this time, I was taken aback by the scenery to not realize that I needed gas right in the middle of Grant’s Pass. Grant’s Pass is up past Crater Lake, deep in the mountain range. I pulled over to this little podunk gas station and I experienced two things: mini-serve and hostility. Mini-serve, for the uninitiated, is something like full-serve at a gas pump, except it’s not. Simply put, you’re not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon. This is something I’ve never experienced, because well, I didn’t gas up on Oregon last time through. I got out of the car to self-serve and the guy at the pump asked me what kind and how much. I just said, with the startled expression on my face, “Premium, and fill ‘er up.” All right, no problem. I did, however, really need to stretch my legs. So I got out of the car, stretched, grabbed my jacket and my ballcap (both of which were San Francisco Giants paraphernalia) and put them on as the winds gusts started to kick up and it was an overcast day. As he gets done filling my gas tank and bringing my the credit slip to sign, two hicks pull up in this beat-up old Volkswagon Rabbit, with a “permanent disabled” license plate on the front. The driver pokes his head out of the car, with his grizzled looks and unkempt hair and ratty red ballcap with a tractor logo on it, and through missing teeth (I shit you not), asks me which way I’m headed: north or south. I replied, “North,” and proceeded to sign the credit slip. The guy then retorts to the both of us, the mini-serve guy included, now that Todd had come back from the bathroom, “I wouldn’t do no business from nobody from San Francisco and California.” I did the only thing I could think of: I laughed. It was right out of a movie, but then I guess art imitates life. I simply had no idea, and I’m not even sure right now if the guy was simply being jovial in his own way or whether or not he was just being the stereotypical asshole. Either way, it was an unnerving experience, as down in the Bay Area, you just don’t find too much intolerance, jokingly or otherwise. We got back on the road, and made it all the way up on that tank of gas and pulled into Beaverton at just after 1530 PST.

The check-in process was incredibly simply and when we got to our room, the first thing we did was flop onto our respective beds and relax and revel in the fact that we had a room that came with a mini-fridge and a microwave oven. The possibilities were endless, and we were looking forward to making full use of the amenities soon enough. I gave a call, first, to let him know that we were in town, finally, and he came over within minutes, ‘s son Jaxom in tow. We met and greeted, made the necessary introductions, and then he had to leave to go pick up herself. was still at work, apparently, but would meet us later at Benihana’s, where I had intended to take everyone out to dinner, except that Todd had had only an hour of sleep in the last thirty-six, and promptly crashed out on his bed in under an hour after we arrived. He made a single request of a to-go order, which I was only happy to fulfill. We met at his apartment, and he took us across the street to Uwajiyama’s, a grocery store/indoor mall-type kind of like Mitsuwa’s back home. Inside there was a Kinokuniya bookstore and since Oregon has no sales tax… I went hog wild. I pikec up Inu Yasha volumes 2 through 7, Chobits 1-5 and 7 (they didn’t have volume 6 in stock), the first two translated volumes of Saint Tail for Todd, and the latest Mai Kuraki album. After the spending binge, we hit one of the Coffee People places to sit and chat before we had to go over to Benihana’s for our reservation at 1930. I hadn’t been to a Benihana’s since my birthday. I miss the massive portions of meat and shrimp and banana tempura, along with all the birthday wackiness and singing. Of course, now I’ve been to four Benihana’s… Cupertino, San Francisco, Anaheim, and now Beaverton. I’m supposed to visit the Denver one when I fly out there next year. Everyone had a good time, including Jaxom. I ordered myself the good ol’ Imperial Steak, cooked medium rare, and I got Todd his Splash and Meadow cooked medium well to take home, plus the delicious fried rice and some shrimp sautee. Of course, when and I returned to the hotel room to sit and chat for a bit, Todd’s snoring drove us out of the room and out walking and exploring the various floors of the hotel. By the time I took her home and got back, I was so exhausted that I could barely keep my eyes open and fell asleep as Todd abused his access to the Cartoon Network all night.

Day Two coming soon.