Friday, September 24

We decided to repack the car before we set back off on the road, to help clear out some space inside. I was happy to do this, because our little car top carrier was looking a bit under used.

Freshly packed, and fueled by leftover pizza, we headed off to Mount St Helens. We stopped off at the visitor center and got the rundown of the Mountain.

Complete sidebar, but it happened as we were going up to Mount St Helens. As many of you are probably aware, when on road trips, guys will use cups to got to the bathroom in, so they don’t have to stop the car, or they are in between places to go. Tod had to go to the bathroom, and Tod drinks a lot of water and diet soda throughout the drive, I mean a LOT. And Tod likes to take the morning driving shift. So Tod goes to the bathroom in the cup, and basically fills up a 44 oz cup. Not even sure how he can have that much pee in his body, but he somehow does. As he is putting the top back on the cup, he hits a bump in the road, and spills his own pee all over his pants. It looked like he had wet himself. Luckily his pants and undies were the only victims.

So we got to the visitor center and Tod went off to change his pants, and then we went to see the mountain. It was an overcast morning, so we couldn’t really see the mountain, but it was still awe-inspiring.

We programmed Voodoo Doughnut in Portland into our GPS, and headed southerly. It was really weird coming into a fairly bog city after being out in the open country for the last 7 days or so. And both Tod and I get a little freaked out when we are driving in big cities, especially ones we’ve never been t before.

We arrived at the downtown Portland area, and found Voodoo Doughnut, with a decent line out there door. All those TV shows have done wonders for their business. The line didn’t take too long, and we picket up a Voodoo Dozen plus a Maple Bacon Bar and a Voodoo Doll. The Maple Bacon Bar was delicious! If you ever have the chance, eat one of these. It kind of blows minds.

We had been talking to the crew and they told us that they were going to meet us at 4 pm, but had not yet given us the address, so we decided to drive around Portland a bit. We came across a Blockbuster Video. Now Tod and I love movies, as many of you know. We both find buying movies and looking for movies to be a bit therapeutic. So we decided, since it was not yet time to meet the crew, that we would check out and see if there were any movies that we needed to add to our collection. We spent at least a half an hour looking through their 5 for $20 previously viewed DVD table. Tod and I have worked in many move stores over our lives, probably twenty years combined, and going in there was like coming home. It's our safe place. We ended up finding some new movies were wanted to have as well as some older classics that we couldn't pass up on.

We got a text from the crew giving us an address to meet them at, and that they had a couple of surprises for us. Both Tod and I were a it apprehensive after the fireworks debacle, but we went down to meet them. We arrived at a parking lot to find a guy standing next to a ’66 Mercedes Benz, holding up a sign with our names. Steve, we found out, was to be our tour guide around Portland and the Benz was our ride.

Steve took us up Mount Tabor, the only dormant volcano in a metropolitan area, to see Mount Hood, a beautiful snow capped mountain far off in the distance from Portland. But what a sight it was, seeing this behemoth jutting up into the sky from the horizon. Absolutely breathtaking.. Steve then took us through Portland and gave us a historical tour that many people will never get to have. He talked about the tunnels, that still run the length and breadth of Portland, that sailors were often Shanghaied through. And talked to us about the railroads and Chinese Paydays, which were not pleasant to hear about.

As the sun began to set over Portland, Steve told us that we had another surprise in store for us, and we had to head off to get to our appointment. We drove around in this little suburban residential area, and stopped outside of a house with sparkling lights lining the porch.

Steve wouldn’t budge on what the appointment was for, and the only clue we had was a sign outside of the house that said ‘Common Ground.’ Many things went through our heads as to what this may be, from the many conversations that the crew had been having with us over the last couple of weeks, but we would never have guessed what was in store for us.

We walked through a glass door and were struck by the sounds of birds chirping and babbling brooks playing over the PA in what turned out to be the waiting room for Common Ground Wellness Center. Galina, the woman running the center, introduced herself to us and told us what we were going to be doing: a float. We were going to be put in a sensory deprivation chamber! The idea behind this was we have been bombarded with all sorts of new sights and sounds over the last seventeen days, and they wanted to remove all external stimuli from us and allow us to turn our vision inward.

She explained what was going to happen – we were to be placed into a tank filled with water and 800 pounds of Epsom Salts, which would make us completely buoyant, and we would just float in the space for a half an hour. Deprived of all of our senses, the two halves of our brains would begin talking to one another. She said that the experience is different for everyone.

There was only one tank at this center, so Tod went first, while waiting Steve and I were able to just sit and talk, which I realized I hadn’t really been able to do a lot of on this trip, free from Tod. We have been spending almost every minute together, and I know that we both sometimes hold back from speaking completely freely to keep from pushing each other’s buttons, which family can do very easily.

I was concerned about the float, because, as I explained to Steve, I am a fairly internal guy already. I think through so much, and when I am done, I think through it again. My fear was that if placed in the tank, it would just amplify what I already do naturally.

Before I knew it, it was my turn in the tank. Galina explained that I was to shower, to get all of my sweat, product etc off my body before getting in the tanks, and then strip down completely and get in, and there would be a signal when my time was up.

I won’t go into detail about what Tod or I experienced while we were in the sensory deprivation chamber, you’ll have to wait for the movie to find out. But just know, it will be worth the wait. : - )

After we finished at the wellness center, Steve took us to a pub to grab some dinner at the Horse Brass Pub, a British Pub, with the good eats; scotch eggs, fish and chips, bangers and mash. Yum!

After dinner we headed over to Adam’s friends house, Rachel, Casket and Skwerl, to crash for the night.