It’s Thursday, March 11, 2010, and we leave WQED at 5:12 AM for the Pittsburgh airport. We have a 6:55 flight to Dallas to catch. We haven’t flown for a shoot in over a year (we drove all the time for A RIDE ALONG THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY) so we’re rusty at this jet-setting stuff. We have to pay massive fees for the equipment we’re lugging, and air travel seems more dismal than ever. All the beauty and fun and magic of soaring through the sky has been boiled out of the process. Take off your shoes. I need to see your photo ID one more time.
I worry about being too fat. That goofy, chubby movie director Kevin Smith was recently asked to leave his flight on Southwest, and I think I’m bigger than him. Now there are new embarrassments to anticipate and fear on airlines. What joy.
We have a 3-hour layover in Dallas. Blah breakfast in a concourse eatery. Chain food.
Finally on the flight to Oregon, I fall asleep often. I’m trying to work on my upcoming back page article for the May issue of PITTSBURGH magazine. I’m listening to my iPhone’s iPod. I watch a bit of the digital version of the animated movie CORALINE on my iPhone. I’m falling asleep. I’m working today’s New York Times crossword (HOCUSPOCUS, ABRACADABRA and OPENSESAME are the big words. SAYTHEMAGICWORDS is the long diagonal clue.)
I also read the review of a new book titled Next by James Hynes. It includes a mention of his image of an airliner: “A Pringles can with wings, packed full of defenseless Pringles.” It’s a potent and perfect image.
Twelve and a half hours after we left WQED, we get to Portland. All of our bags and equipment cases show up. Ahh. Bob and I go to get the rental minivan, and Glenn sits with our bags. It’s raining and gray.
But the world seems exciting after the plane. People are chipper here in Portland. The young woman at Budget Rental says there’s great breakfast at the Tin Shed. That’s where we’re going Saturday. Everybody seems intrigued by our project. Our Dodge minivan is brand new. It has 5 miles on it! It’s modern and loaded with gadgets and gimmicks. We return to Terminal and get Glenn and the stuff.
Our route to the hotel takes us along Route 30. This is the same US 30 that goes through Greensburg to Pittsburgh, the same US 30 that is basically the old Lincoln Highway from Philadelphia to western Wyoming. In western Wyoming, 30 leaves the Lincoln Highway and turns north to here, to Portland. It’s like the lost extension of the Lincoln. We like it and feel connected.
We check into our hotel. We’re tired but decide we’re all hungry. We get some swell fried halibut and salmon at a little place called Halibut on Alberta Street, a cool and hip little neighborhood here where we’ll be shooting for the next couple of days.
Just for fun, I ask our saucy waitress (whose Ukrainian family is all from Pittsburgh and Indiana, PA) where we can get some good breakfast around here. She sways and says, “Oh there are many great places to get good breakfast near here. Helser’s is probably the best. It’s really good.” We’re happy because that’s where we’ll be shooting in the morning: Helser’s on Alberta. Salmon hash on the horizon!
“…He’s just another Pringle in the Pringles can gliding belly down out of the sky, with no control over the plane, no say over his fate.” — James Hynes, Next