Saturday, July 15, 2006

First paper, then pens

From there I headed farther into the Pearl to hit Oblation, a great stationery store at 516 northwest 12th avenueat Glisan that also sells pens, cards, journals, letterpress invitations, and just about anything a paper and pen hound could want.

It was a nice place to start because I don't think you can ever have enough nice notecards and paper, and it was the perfect spot to whet my appetite for the coming pen buffet.

Qu'est-ce que c'est? Bastille Day!

I love all things French. So what do I happen upon in a little park in the Pearl District but a Bastille Day celebration! How cool is that?!

The only things distinctly french about it at that slightly early hour were a cheese booth, a french bakery booth, booths of artists with paintings of french things (the Eiffel Tower, sidewalk cafes, etc.), and a few people with French accents setting up a stage for a band.

Oh, and a petanque game! I always think of it as the more refined ancestor of lawn darts. It was definitely shaping up to be a fun event. Lots of people were already out enjoying the weather, which was quickly creeping up into the upper 70s.

Made it!

So the train arrived right on time in Portland at Union station, which is a very cool train station that originally opened in 1896(!) as a train depot. It's one of the classic, marble-laden, old school train stations that really give you a glimpse of what it must have been like decades ago when traveling by train was still an occasion.

Here's a shot from outside as I headed towards the Pearl District.

So much for sleeping

I spoke too soon. At the Tukwila stop, a woman and her three or four year old son boarded and sat right in front of me. Over the next three hours I learned a few things: everything about trains excited this child; he had not yet learned the concept of "inside voice", no matter how many times his mom asked him to use it (about 17 times); and it is possible for a child to maintain, for three hours, a level of excitement and wonder that would cause most people's hearts to stop. While seeing the world through a child's eyes is a wonderful thing, I would have instead preferred to see the insides of my eyelids for those three hours. Judging by the annoyed looks on the faces of several fellow passengers, I wasn't alone. Ah well, note to self: bring earplugs next time.

All aboard!

We left on time and are cruising southward. I have a full seat row to myself, so i'll be catching some zzzz as we glide through the 4-5 stops on the way to Portland. Wow: 15 minutes and we're already in Tukwila.

Portland Pen Show bound

Bright and early (by my Saturday snooze 'til 9 (okay, 11) standards), I headed to the Amtrak King Street station to board the Cascades train for Portland and the Portland Pen Show. It's one of the smaller shows across the U.S., but it it draws a nice turnout of pen enthusiasts over its three days. I am hoping to pick up some nice stationery, but no pens: I already have a hard time rotating through my favorites.

I was startled initially by all the people lined up to board the train to Portland on a weekend morning, until I saw several in Lance Armstrong-esque regalia: it's STP weekend - the big Seattle to Portland bike race. I'm not sure if they were headed down to meet other racers midway or just following a misguided belief that "riding" in the event includes trains as well as bikes. But there were quite a few of them, plus the rest us.