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Scenes from the front line of life in Portland, Oregon, USA.

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Jason Holliston
 
Thursday, October 09, 2003  
Transcontinental Voyage

Late this past Sunday, I returned from a trip I took to the New England, where I visited Boston and New Hampshire. The expressed reason for the trip was my cousin Christopher's wedding, but I also took the opportunity to do some sight-seeing in Bean Town. It's a wonderful place -- without a doubt in my top five cities that I would love to move to, if I ever decided to leave the City of Roses. There's something special about cities that date back to the beginning of European colonization of America that separates them completely from the West Coast. The old architecture, the history at nearly every turn, and the mixture of the immigrant cultures of the early 20th century all blend to create something all it's own.

I traveled with my mother, who was raised in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. While she has been to Boston before, she didn't remember it very well, since it had been quite a while. We stayed in a hotel on the same block as the Boston Stock Exchange (who knew they had one?), located in a building probably over 150 years old. As it is 2003, there was a Starbucks right across the street, thank God. Some people I know don't appeciate Starbucks, as a company, for some anti-capitalist reason, but without them, huge swaths of the country would still be in the dark ages of coffee -- having their only caffeine-related questions of the morning be, "One lump or two?" Ouch. I remember Yuban and MJB, and it wasn't so much a pleasure to drink it as it was a necessity.

On the second night we were in Boston, we found a card in our room, left by the maid. It informed us that there was a steam leak in a nearby street, so we may lose hot water overnight, but rest assured, we'll have it back by morning. What? Steam leak? I know this is something that people in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia probably take for granted, but you use steam from under the streets for hot water? I saw the leak the night before -- a cloud of vapor, coming out of the street, rising 20 or so feet. I didn't know what to make of it then. Does that explain the steam coming up from man hole covers in the night streets of Northeast cities, like in the opening sequence of Taxi?

The wedding was wonderful -- a Friday afternoon and evening affair, complete with the wedding party's backs to a lake, only 30 minutes before sundown. A secular wedding, it was quick; perhaps only 25 minutes. Christopher is an excellent writer, and his vows made just about every woman (and some men) in the gathered shed tears. I met with family, took lots of photos with my new spiffy camera, and drank good Scotch whiskey. It was a good night, and I hope God blesses them with great marriage.

The flight back was uneventful, reading magazines and listing to opera on a noise cancellation headset I purchased for an earlier long flight to Europe. Some quick words about these (relatively) new consumer inventions. If you can afford $75 for a good set, and have a long flight coming up, buy them. When you're listening to music or watching a movie, they work so well, you can actually make out the words and most background noises. You actually do feel less dazed and more refreshed than you expect. It's amazing what the constant dull roar of jet engines can do to your senses over several hours. Someday they might make planes that are quieter for a price that the industry can afford, but I have a feeling I'll be an old man before than happens.




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