I’ve been out here in Oregon for the past week doing some contract work with some old friends from the dot-com days. Right now I’m sitting on a couch relaxing after a day’s ride from Brookings to Portland (the work was in Brookings, my plane is in Portland) through the redwoods in California, up the coastline on I-5 and into the city. Oregon is a pretty beautiful, interesting place. I feel at home in a state which features an espresso stand every quarter-mile, and where free wi-fi is offered at state parks and rest areas. Now, the whole state isn’t like that—you can’t get wi-fi in the mountains, but you can always get espresso. Seriously, I’ve seen more coffee joints than liquor stores, and the only thing that outnumbers both is adult novelty stores, which seem to be everywhere. And the coffee isn’t watered-down bullshit, either; the McDonald’s in Brookings sells better coffee than I’ve had in most Maryland Starbucks.
People here are friendly and welcoming; we had two people stop their cars and let us cross a busy street in downtown Portland, something I’ve not experienced since being in Maine ten years ago. Everybody waves as they drive past, something that must be difficult to do while speeding down the highway (no lie.) However, these people all apparently pack serious heat. Oregonians take possession of firearms seriously, like owning shoes—concealed-carry is not against the law, it’s expected.
Classic cars are abundant, to the point where a native Easterner like me weeps when I see a mid-50’s sedan in near-perfect condition, or a Scout with brushguards, mudders, and a winch pass by on the highway. And they’re sold for pennies out here—T-bucket roadsters in the low teens, or early 60’s coupes for two or three thousand (with a fresh motor).
We set up shop in a house about a half-mile from the edge of the water, opened up a card table, and got to work. The job itself is great—it’s an application for mobile phones that could really take off with a large demographic—and it felt good to brainstorm out some ideas and develop some creative solutions with two people who are much, much smarter than me. And every day, weather permitting, our host C. would take us to a different beach to walk off some of the stiffness brought on by five hours of straight typing, which allowed for some great photography. The southern Oregon coastline is just incredible—miles of rocky surf, completely different from the Jersey shore I grew up on.
We also took some time to travel out of Brookings, into the mountains, and up a one-lane fire road to a remote firing range, where C. and J. broke out thir rifles and we commenced to exercising our second-amendment rights, in fine fashion:
J’s Mini-14 is a compact, solid rifle with a utilitarian feel and a comfortable weight. We single-loaded and shot with iron sights, because the clip didn’t make the trip and the scope mount was being uncooperative. I did some pretty successful plinking at the 50-yard targets (the close ones in the shot above) and some woefully inaccurate shooting beyond that. C’s AR-10 is a specialty target rifle, and he has a huge scope mounted and dialled in for very accurate fire. The rifle is a lot heavier and offers more kick (being a larger shell), and I did some frighteningly good shooting at 75 yards (the medium-range targets above) before we packed it in. I’ve forgotten how satisfying it is to do some simple target shooting with a rifle, and I may look into a lightweight, dependable target rifle like John’s in the near future.
We drove back into Portland this afternoon (Sunday) and J. took me to look at Powell’s Books, a bibliophile’s candy store unique to the Northwest. We hit the technical bookstore first, where I quickly dropped $25 on two used books that normally would have cost $70, and then to the “big” store, where my mouth fell open as we toured the multiple floors of books. My pusher J. convinced me to buy another book before we left, and then we headed off for some dinner.