An amazing day in an amazing city

Written by Jared Burgess

What began as a frantic morning has ended in a quiet, peaceful night after a fun-filled day in Portland, Oregon, home of the 2010 JEA/NSPA spring convention. Three photographer friends and I are sharing a two-story hotel room, and our hotel is only a few blocks from this amazing city’s convention center, where I will be spending much time over the next few days.

Anyhow, I told my parents last night that I had already packed all of my things before I went to sleep. But I lied. Of course, being an average 18-year old HS senior, it was only natural that I put off most of my packing until the next morning.

Unfortunately for me, I overslept by about 15 minutes, which was quite a big deal. So after scrambling to shove all my belongings into the suitcase my parents left me, I was finally ready. Or so I thought. I realized that I had forgotten to get my digital camera charger, which was practically a necessity. How else would I be able to remember the amazing experiences I was about to have? Because JEA conventions have always been good memory-making tools. Luckily, I thought to check in my sister’s drawer, where I was pleased to see it lying. One minute later, I was out the door, headed to El Paso’s airport.

You can imagine how sleepy I was at 6:30 a.m. as I stood in line to check in my bags, especially since I’ve been waking up a few minutes past 8 a.m. every day for the past year or two. But somehow, I managed. Our trek from El Paso to Los Angeles to Oakland to Portland was a run-of-the-mill experience. Check-in. Goodbye to parents. Security. Wait. Takeoff. Land. Transfer. Wait. Takeoff. Land…you get the picture. I’d have to say the most exciting part of the whole journey was getting to ride the moving sidewalk. I’ll always look forward to those things.

The moment I entered the bus headed toward our hotel, I knew that Portland was a special place. It’s hard to describe. I just felt that ‘atmosphere,’ you know? And the people…my short walk from the hotel to lunch was enough to prove to me that this city is full of creative people. I must have seen 40 people on either bikes or skateboards, and several more with haircuts I didn’t even know existed. Lunch itself was an amazing experience. We all ate at Burgerville, the famous fast food franchise of the Northwest. I got a double-quarter pounder with bacon, but I found myself craving more afterward. I regretted not getting a quadruple-quarter pounder, like two of my roommates did. Oh well. I still have the rest of the week.

Afterward, we teamed up with Coronado’s journalism department for some sight-seeing. Our two departments together made about 18 people, so getting transit tickets for everyone proved to be a confusing, and time-consuming tasks. But after half an hour or so, we were on our way to Washington Park. The minute I stepped off the elevator from the public transit tunnel, I could smell the forest surrounding me. The clean, fresh air was nothing short of amazing, and completely different from what I am used to back in El Paso, a desert town.

After hiking some trails and discovering a few fun photo-ops, we came across a huge hill. My friend Kazhe then came up with the brilliant idea of throwing ourselves over the edge and rolling down to the bottom. Why not, right? He jumped, and apparently had a lot of fun, so I decided it was my turn next. I had fun too, in spite of the small bruises I may have acquired. But that wasn’t the worst part. I soon realized that my jeans and hoody were covered in mud stains, that simply could not have been wiped off. If I had known the risks of dirtiness prior to rolling down, I may have reconsidered. But it was fun.

Now, it’s 10 p.m, or 11 p.m. El Paso time. So I’ve got to say, I’m a bit tired. I won’t be surprised if I fall asleep in 20 minutes or so, while my friends are all channel-surfing, trying to find something good to watch. But that will probably be a good thing; we’re going to tour Multnomah Falls at 10 tomorrow morning. I’m excited. Speaking of excitement, I’m stoked beyond belief for this coming convention. As the only newspaper representative from my school, I’ve got to make sure I bring back lots of tips and useful information for the staffers who will be taking over next year. I’ve also got to make sure that I enjoy it. After four years of attending, this will be my last JEA convention. I feel blessed that Portland was the chosen location.

Jared Burgess