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Yep, I'm still in Oregon preparing for my big trip.  As I'm discovering, there are a TON of things to do (literally, like 2,000 pounds worth) to prepare for a massive trip like this, not the least of which is getting my Toyota truck ready for its long trek around the country.  During the past couple of weeks, I installed a new windshield, put in a new stereo system and had my truck's transmission overhauled, which was the first transmission work ever done on my 16-year old truck.  Not bad for 232,000 miles, I figure.


I normally do all of my own truck repair work, but I didn't think the apartment manager would appreciate me doing a three-day transmission overhaul in the carport, so I took my truck into a shop.  Twelve hundred dollars later, the folks at Cottman's Transmission Shop are smiling and my truck runs great.


Above:  The Willamette River and Portland, Oregon  (pop. 530,000).

My big project at home lately has been copying my collection of 600 music CDs onto a few dozen discs in MP3 format, which I'll take with me around the U.S. and overseas.  As I've discovered, you can fit about 10 hours of CD-quality music onto a single MP3 disc.  Of course, you also need a car stereo player that can read MP3 files, which I purchased and installed a few weeks ago (a Kenwood MP-8017).  Imagine popping in a CD in the morning, listening to it all day and never hearing the same song twice.  Pretty cool.


In addition to burning the MP3 discs, I've been making backup discs of my computer software (and backups of the backups), and have burned over 300 discs during the past few weeks in preparation for the trip.  Now the only thing burning is my desire to hit the road.  Because of all this prep work, I've had to push my departure date back to mid-May, which will give me about 10 weeks to drive around America before I head to Australia and New Zealand in August.



In a tribute to my former colleagues, here's Dolly Parton singing 9-to-5.


Although I've been busy getting ready for my trip, I do manage to take breaks once in a while.  Last week, during a beautiful spring afternoon, I drove into downtown Portland and walked around for a while, stopping by the office of Parsons Brinckerhoff to see my former colleagues there.  I tried not to rub in the fact that I don't have to wake up to an alarm clock anymore and I think they appreciated that.


Afterwards I headed down to the Willamette River waterfront, where I enjoyed the beautiful spring weather.  It reached 75 degrees, the warmest day here since September, and Portlanders were out in force downtown soaking up the sunshine.



Above left:  My office building on 6th Avenue in downtown Portland (Parsons Brinckerhoff is on the 8th floor).

Above center:  This statue is called "Allow Me" and it stands atop Pioneer Courthouse Square.  Finished in 1980, Pioneer Courthouse Square is known as Portland's "Living Room."  There used to be an ugly parking garage here but during a major city renovation, planners decided to tear the garage down and build a public plaza.

Above right:  Ira's Fountain (foreground) and the Portland Plaza (background).  My parents lived in the Portland Plaza during the 1980s before they moved to Bellingham, Washington.



Left:  This is Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland. 

It was named after an Oregon governor who, back in the 1970s, asked folks (especially Californians) to "visit Oregon but please don't stay."  Needless to say, he was a popular governor. 

There used to be a four-lane highway here.  But civic leaders, including McCall, decided to tear it up and put in a park.




Above left:  Springtime is here!

Above right:  Downtown Portland, near the waterfront.



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