Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Portland Now (Redux)

Oh, sweet sugar - I made it to Portland safely! It was a pretty intense trip though. I left Pittsburgh on Tuesday and drove out to Bloomington, Illinois where I stayed with my friend, Rebekah and her family. I arrived as Chicken Fajitas were getting ready to be eaten. I was pretty happy to get there in time for that. Those Fajitas were good. It was really great to see my friend, Rebekah and her family again as well. Girls are pretty funny though sometimes...like when a bug scampers across the floor and they jump up on the couch screaming and pointing. Good times.

I woke up fairly early and began my journey to Colorado. What a boring day that turned out to be. It rained pretty much the entire trip. Iowa was very uneventful. Nebraska proved to be the same until about halfway through, then it cleared up and I started seeing countryside that was new to me and not so boring. I crossed into Colorado before the sun went down and saw some interesting rolling hills there as well but by the time I got to where a lot of the scenery I'd like to see would be, it was dark and a snow storm decided to attack me.

Colorado was really very pretty. My friend, Greg, took me to see a lot. Up into the mountains we drove, hanging out in Denver before hand and checking out various other places on the way, such as Garden of the Gods. It was really great. I hope to have pictures up soon.

After a few days, I left for Salt Lake City. I hit another snow storm on the way out of Colorado but once I got around 40 miles away from the border, it cleared up and the scenery was intense. It was like God painted it himself. The colors were so vibrant and rich. Greens and reds and browns and blues, it was pretty awesome. Utah only added to that with it's vast desert landscape. It wasn't boring though, not with the different cliffs and canyons hanging around and the dulling colors that had long since faded in the sun. It was the perfect buildup to driving into Salt Lake. I drove down into a canyon and essentially turned a corner to see what I would describe as The Shire in real life. Huge, gorgeous green hills. Green mountains. Shortly after this, I turn another bend, and snow capped mountains are greeting me, beckoning me to come drive through them. It was a great entrance into the state and I definitely have to say, Utah might be the prettiest state I've seen yet.

I stayed in Salt Lake for the night with some friends, after hanging out with them. I woke in the morning for my last drive of the trip. Finally. I was exhausted, physically and mentally. I was ready to rest. Problem was, which I didn't know at the time, is Idaho would be an even bigger mental strain than the trip had been yet. Why is Idaho such a mental strain? Because it's so utterly dull and boring. Driving through it for hours on end is not the way to finish off a trip, especially not when you're spent after days of traveling alone already. At least previous states gave me something to look at and say "wow" to. Not Idaho. My only wow came in the form of boredom and annoyance. I'm sorry if you're from Idaho...but I do not like the state. It wins worst state to drive through. Seriously.

Oregon was interesting at first though. I thought it was nice when I first drove into the state. After an hour or so, it changed scenery and I was impressed a bit again. Then another hour and a new change. By the time I got to within 100 miles of Portland, I started saying wow again. The canyons and giant green cliffs; rocks penetrating out the ground. The highway winding along with the river, following it's stream all the way. Around 30-40 miles outside of Portland, the scenery took a turn for the magical. Just this area alone could give what I saw in Utah a run for best scenery. Waterfalls, a forest of pine trees far as the eye could see, the road winding along the river. I thought I was driving towards Neverland or something. It was really something to see.

I finally arrived in Portland on Sunday. Met my new roommates and began to get settled in. Now, I'm at my desk in the These Numbers Have Faces office, writing this to you before I head out for the day to enjoy my birthday. Not sure what all I'll do, but it'll be a good day nonetheless. Things are good. I enjoy it so far and think I will enjoy it for a long time.

*Note about These Numbers Have Faces*
We just introduced our newest campaign today, the Women's Empowerment Fund. Please go check it out, it's going to be an amazing program helping the women of South Africa. Also, if you like soccer, check out our World Cup Benefit Bracket. $10, you pick the teams and if you win, you get prizes. The money goes towards Soccer and Education programs in South Africa. So head on over to www.thesenumbers.org and check that out! Thanks!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bust - Portland Postponed

I have been pretty excited to get out to Portland. With May 10th right around the corner, I was ready to start packing already. For those who personally know me, you know well that I hated my current job for one reason or another. Not to get into details, but let's just say it really brought me down and discouraged me. It had nothing to do with my boss, who is a great boss by the way, but the environment and the seclusion that the job presented was just something I didn't need. All this to say, I figured that April 30th (my last day of work there) would be one of the best days I've had in a long time.

Lucky for me though, my life just isn't that simple. My life needs to be more boring and uneventful. Sometimes those events suck, such as what happened after I quit. I had just gotten my car back and was on my way home before leaving to go to the Verizon store so they could fix my phone, then to my Uncles. On the way to the store, my emergency brake light turned on, as did my battery light. Then...random lights began to fill my dashboard, yet I was driving fine. If you don't drive much, this isn't normal and is cause for alarm. I took it to Advanced Auto parts only to be told my car is too old to be hooked up to their computer and checked. So I drove to the nearest Auto Zone and they checked. I got two answers when they hooked up my car which were, it's either my battery but more than likely it's my alternator. I was also told that I was ripped off financially by the guy who worked on my car and that it could have been something he did that caused this. On the way home, my car slowly went on what seems like a Car Acid Trip and wasn't shifting into gear, was revving up all by itself, and was just being crazy. When I parked it, after backing up my driveway cause it was the only way I was able to make it up (for some reason) and revved up to 3 rpm's before I shut it off.

I wasn't happy. Actually, I was angry beyond words. Even the Pens game wasn't making cheering me up. I just laid in my room, not eating, watching the game hoping to feel something that wasn't sadness, betrayal, and anger. Oh, betrayal is in there because my grandfather used to be the boss of the mechanic shop. So, they know me and my family. Wonderful, right? So I just got a car back that only needed back brakes, a rotor and a new belt. Those are wonderful but everything around them is failing. Everything that worked perfectly before I took it in.

This morning, I woke up and left for the shop hoping to speak to the manager, Tim. I've dealt with him a number of times. He's a really cool guy, even sold me my second car. Unfortunately, he wasn't there. The mechanic who worked on my car was though. So we talked it out and they sent a flatbed to pick it up, after which my dad looked at my bill. He noticed something they fixed (which they didn't ask if they could) and said one small mistake doing that could have fried my cars computer and ruined my alternator, which explains everything that has gone wrong.

And so I am a bit hopeful again. I've decided, car or not, I'm definitely still going out to Portland. I have an opportunity to work for an organization that is doing some great work helping those in South Africa, believing in their friends down there and investing in the future of that country. I'm hoping that, if a mistake was made, they will own up to it and fix my car. Who knows, this could end up being the best thing that could of happened. Maybe this mistake, should they fix it, will actually fix my car up even more. Maybe this won't happen and I'll be car-less in Portland. The house I'm staying at isn't that far from where I work, so I can manage.

Why I share all this, I'm not so sure. Maybe something to write about. Maybe a way for those of you who are keeping up with me to keep up with what is going on. Who knows? But I plan to keep going on with the things I want to do, I plan to be in Portland in a few weeks, helping These Numbers Have Faces serve their friends in South Africa. A small bump in the road isn't going to stop me.