Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My first experiences with urban camping in Portland

So far, it's been a very interesting "mixed bag" of experiences trying to urban camp in downtown Portland. First, let me say that for all of the cities I could try and do this in, Portland is setup for it like an urban camping paradise. There are numerous parks to sleep in, and certain doorways seem to be acceptable sleeping places, although the idea of sleeping directly on the sidewalk seems silly in lieu of the fact that Washington Park is just a train ride away. At Washington Park, if you go far enough in, and it is indeed a large park, you will find many others who have zipped up into their sleeping bags and taken up a nice, quiet, and mostly peaceful plot of park to sleep in. My first several days in this town have been camping out with other rainbow brothers and sisters in the park. The weather has been very nice and temperate throughout the day, but it does get a bit chilly at night and I would recommend a sleeping bag rated to at least 30. It rains a bit in the spring and a lot through the fall and winter, but in the summer it's not anything you couldn't handle with a tarp, so I haven't need to pitch a tent yet.

The people in Portland are amazingly friendly and actually, quite a few of them are travelers from many other places. It is a port town, I guess. But, just about everywhere you go downtown you will see others with travelers packs, walking around, taking in the culture, being the culture.

There are so many free meal programs throughout the city that no one could possibly go hungry in this town. Going to them kind of makes me feel like I'm at Rainbow again, walking from kitchen to kitchen around the meadow. The biggest differences being that at rainbow I got fed wonderful, nutritious, vegan food that gave me much energy, even if I didn't eat very much, and Portland's free meal programs make me feel like I've been poisoned. Not to mention the fact that most of the free meal programs are visited by the mentally disabled or drug (heroin) addicts. Well, OK, so are rainbow kitchens, but at rainbow there's so much more love and consciousness present, and definitely no heroin, or most other powders. And alcohol is discouraged greatly.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Portland is Amazing!

I've been traveling with my new friend Heather through the metro areas of downtown Portland, Oregon, and I must say this town rocks! The town is setup neatly and is easy to understand how to get around once you understand the light rail (called the MAX) and the position of the Willamette and Columbia rivers.

So far, one of my favorite places to hang out is at Pioneer Courthouse Square, located at the center of Portland's downtown. All the MAX trains intersect at what Portland calls it's "living room", where they show movies on a giant inflatable screen in the evenings and have something called Noon Tunes during the day where awesome bands play live.

My other favorite place to hang out is at Rocco's Pizza, located right across the street from Powell's Books at the intersection of Burnside and 10th, this local pizza pub has been around for a while. There's a very eclectic crowd of students, homeless, white collar workers, bike enthusiasts, etc. that hang out front, who come for the gigantic slices of pizza and cheap beer.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Left for Rainbow

I left Austin, Texas with a purpose: to "rove". The festival had become stagnant and I knew that in order for me to achieve my purposes with it I needed to rove. So I teamed up with the one and only Freeman from the Freeman Perspective along with two close friends and headed out for this year's National Rainbow Gathering in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming. On our way there we stopped in Colorado to visit the Garden of the Gods, near Colorado Springs and to stay and visit with some fantastic glass blowing brothers.

When I reached the National Forest I was promptly welcomed home, and after spending one night in the parking lot, we made the 4 to 5 mile hike into "Main Meadow". Mostly we "plugged in" to Milliway's kitchen, "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" where "Tea starts wars!" There I met so many numerous, wonderfully lovely brothers and sisters and we worked hard to feed the masses with so many varieties of pizza and zoo-zoos.

On the 4th of July all 20,000 of those naked hippies in the forest remained totally silent in contemplation of world peace. This has got to be one of the most profound experiences of my life. To think of this many peace loving brothers and sisters coming together in the middle of one of the most scenic and aesthetically beautiful forests I've ever seen to remain totally silent through an entire morning, contemplating. Of course everybody still meandered, looking for breakfast or that morning bowl, but without saying a word.

At noon, the children from Kiddie Village paraded down to the peace pole in the middle of Main Meadow while all 20,000 present held hands and ohm'ed at the perimeter of the meadow. Once all the children reached the pole, everyone at the gathering broke their silence in an eruption of cheers. And the party went on all through the night.

I've since met a beautiful rainbow sister who has encouraged my friend and I to come visit the Great Northwest. So I'm in Portland, Oregon. I've already been whisked away to Siuslaw National Forest to see the beautiful Oregon coast line and to somewhere near Hood River to venture into a rock-built hot springs on the Washington side of the border. It's amazing to me already that I've gone from about 8,000 ft in elevation in the Wyoming mountians to be at the Oregon coastline three days later.

And the light and life of the Rainbow Gathering continues as I've run into many brothers and sisters from the gathering here in Portland, and the general attitude of the town seems to be of the same spirit. I think I'm going to check this place out for a while.