Our first night along the road was spent in the home and company of our dear friend Bree. She and her sister rent a quaint and trendy du-plex in Portland, right off artistic Alberta Street. They are thriving in the unique/communal atmosphere around them and enjoy the diversity of expression and surprise literally at their doorstep.
We had a wild introduction to Portland!
As soon as we pulled up to her house, Bree burst through the door, wrapped us in hugs and pushed us back into the truck, exclaiming "We have to catch the parade!" Portland's annual "Art Hop" was just winding down and the Marching Band Parade of Clowns was making it's last turnaround before calling it a day.
We raced down the street and made a mad dash toward the music, dodging the crowd and weaving through tables of sculptures, paintings, jewelry, handmade clothing. And this is what we saw: gothic "vauderville" clowns on stilts swaying atop an old firetruck, a string of funkified marching band players, one with an electric guitar plugged into the front of the firetruck. The music was amazing and dance-to-able; I could not NOT dance! It sounded like a mixture of funk and reggae with tight, crisp rhythms and a driving beat.
There were funky bikes cruising around the streets. A few of the particularly unusual machines were poised outside of the "clown house", a community of clowns (professional and amateur, I think?), with a twist. In the picture below, with Alley getting her face painted, you may notice a couple of cross-dressing clowns in the backdrop. A little eery for me, I confess. I have crawly-skin feelings about clowns in general, but especially gothic clowns with freaky painted faces.
But, despite the heebbie jeebies, we really liked observing an obvious fulfillment of a group's wild dream. We love that Portland is the kind of place where a group of scary clowns can form a community of unique expression and become known around the world. They can keep crazy welded bikes in their front yard without the city issuing fines.
Later that night, we joined some of Bree's friends for a backyard BBQ. A few of the guys mix music and gifted us with sweet beats all evening as we munched on edamames and shish kebobs.
As one point in the night, one of the women was juicing fresh tangerines. She filled a pitcher and brought it back outside with ice cubes floating. The rest of us had a variety of beers and some wine and I was glad for some juice to give to Alley. I filled a medium-sized glass and she took a few thirsty gulps. The music really got going and Al was dancing like a maniac. She seemed especially wild and would take little breaks from dancing to have some juice.
She was tipping her half empty cup for another swig when the woman who juiced the tangerines looked her way and exclaimed "No sweetie! Don't drink that! That's just for the adults!" I overheard this and quickly swooped it out of her hands, only to taste the unique flavour of Vodka. OH. MY. GOODNESS.
Thankfully, the percentage of alcohol was low and we caught her before she drank the whole thing. But man, we felt bad. For the rest of the night, we handed her drink after drink of water and made sure her tummy was full of bread and fruit and other healthy foods to absorb any remaining alcohol.
Moral of the story: always taste what you pour for your child.
And that was Portland. We had a fantastic, whirlwind time with a dear friend. And if you are reading this, Bree. Thank you.