Since it was looking like Betty would be in the mechanics for the next week and with the days ticking over we had an important date in Vancouver to keep, Labour Day weekend, which our Canadian friends hold a party to commemorate. Well we’d signed up for it and being ones to keep such important dates we rented a car from Alamos. To save $100 buck-a-roos we hired it from the airport instead of in town, and lucky for Sarah she drew the short straw, winning the prize of a 6am bike ride some 5.2 miles to collect it.
BEWARE: If you’re not North American with an insurance policy that covers you for rental and your travel insurance doesn’t cover you either, the kind lady behind the counter will swiftly bend you over it and extract required amount of greenbacks to cover it. In this case it was more than the cost of the car rental! This ‘minor’ detail is not disclosed at all on theirs’ or any other company’s website T&C’s and we were told by the ‘kind’ lady that they ‘just presume that everyone they rent to is American’. What, at an international airport?? Yep, plain stupid. Don’t bother arguing the point as they couldn’t give two shits either.
Before the big PAR-TEE there were two other must dos on the itinerary. First we needed to sort the car registration and insurance for Betty in British Columbia (as this is by far and away the easiest place to own a car as a foreigner) and secondly we had to make a pitstop in Portland to catch up with an old friend. Making the quick jaunt up to Creston (4.5 hours) to the local Autoplan broker Sarah entered the office with the required paperwork. Matt, waiting in the car, was surprised that she’d return not 2 minutes later. “Need two forms of ID as I’m Australian” (remember you’ll need this too if you’re from out of the country). This second visit lasted a little longer when Sarah returned with tears in her eyes. Apparently she had an outstanding debt of $1,400 as supposedly she hadn’t cancelled the policy last time she was in the country! Now we blame this on someone’s bureaucratic blunder as Sarah had gone into the Autoplan 4 years ago and signed it over to her friend thus cancelling the direct debit and policy. Some idiot just forget to hit the enter button so even though they weren’t getting paid they supposedly continued to provide insurance…for 12 months!
Racking our brains about how to rectify the situation the most obvious solution eluded us for some time. Finally we came to our senses, put it in Matt’s name. Yeah simple hey? Trying to save a few buck on insurance caused more grief than needed (our old car was in Sarah’s name and she therefore had an insurance history and would have received a discount). Heading back across the border (which is easy in a rental car, just have the papers ready) we got back to the I-90 on a mission to hit Portland that night, a little ambitious but doable.
Made it just outside Boardman to a rest stop to indulge in a 15 min power nap, next thing we know there’s birds chirping and dawn is upon us. Finally coming into Portland, looking forward to having the hospitality of a friend that Matt met travelling in Turkey some 8 years ago, excitement crept into our weary bodies and gave us the energy to get over the finish line.
Bjorn had moved up from LA with his lovely wife Megan, whom we met for the first time, to start a family (Megan is pregnant…it’s a boy!). Portland is loads cheaper for housing and with no sales tax this was a perfect city to set up in a beautiful two story house (with basement) in a leafy green neighbourhood. Veggie garden and all. Not having slept in a comfortable real bed since Buffalo some weeks ago, the welcoming and taking in of two tired and by now slightly unkempt travellers was a demonstration of generosity that left us all warm and fuzzy. After indulging in a long hot shower, the time was upon us to venture into the center to check out this bike loving, hippy haven of a city.