Alice in Expensiveland

Trip Start Jul 26, 2005
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Trip End Aug 20, 2005


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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Thursday, July 28, 2005

It's hard to make the transition to travelling again, just after I've gotten home and had a taste of the restful life. My parents have to pack me into the back seat of the car, and by the time we hit the Canada-U.S. border I am already snoring---whether from the tail end of jet lag or just my usual "sleep in cars" routine I don't know. Surprisingly, the heat snap here is affecting me. I thought, after weathering the temperatures down under, that I'd be immune. Then we pile out of the car in Portland and I start to feel sticky and squint against the glare.

Portland is nice, though; old brick buildings, trams, lots of greenery shading the streets . We walk to our sole reason for stopping: Powell's City of Books, the largest bookstore in the world. More than a million titles! For a my Mom, a librarian and me, a writer, it sounds like heaven. Dad looks less convinced but he trundles off to look at sci-fi books anyways. It lives up to its reputation, with five floors jam packed with stuff, new and used, at good prices. First editions of stuff nestled up against signed copies sharing breathing space with well-worn paperbacks. By the end of the first aisle ("A" authors, literature) I've already half-filled a basket and put in a request to be left here for the rest of the trip.

After I grudgingly narrow my choices down to five we go up to the rare books room. The first thing I eye up is a Baedaker's Canada (Baedaker was the original travel guide; this one is from the 1800s), a tiny leather volume that I fancy I might be able to fit into my budget, until I see the price tag. Oh, bother. $200? I give up the dream of being able to buy anything in the rare books room and just start browsing. There's a complete set of Jane Austen books for $1200. Mom finds a copy of her old school workbook---Dick and Jane---going for $200 as well and starts complaining about how she threw these things out back in the day. Then I spot my dream acquisition: the $3500 first edition Alice in Wonderland.

After dinner at an Italian restaurant in Salem we find that things are not very vacant in Eugene, settle for our third choice of hotel, and bunk down for the night.
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