Leaving Syracuse I did feel some sense of achievement.
I had limited success as a missionary for the cause of Cymru. I had finished Jeremy Hooker's fascinating journal 'Upstate' about his year spent in that very city and the dog Molly had even managed to train me to do a game with her favourite, well-chewed squeaky toy.
Above all, I had reclaimed my luggage intact, though curiously opened by the TSA, who left their calling card.
I was greeted at Portland airport by Ceri Shaw of Americymru, wielding a placard with JENKINS on it.
I only knew Ceri and his partner Gaabi because of their formidable presence online.
They have created the pioneering website Americymru and organised events in the past, some for the Wordstock Festival and others for their own West Coast Eisteddfod.
Ceri is to the internet what Walter White of 'Breaking Bad' is to 'cooking'
( meth , not food!). Indeed, Ceri introduced me to that captivating drama series when I was in Portland and I became addicted.
Americymru is always looking to expand and Gabriel has become just as enthusiastic about Welsh culture. They now offer Welsh lessons and a 'Welsh American Bookstore'.
In a largely separate project, Ceri and Phil Rowlands edit the magazine of new writing 'Eto', which is into its second issue and always looking for new material.
What would I make of Portland, a city I'd been told was avowedly leftfield and full of creativity?
My first impressions were of distant volcanoes and volcanic mountains and many river bridges. Mount Hood resembled a huge cone of ash which looked as if it would erupt and send its contents to cover the streets any minute.
Even the bridges had the feeling of precariousness, as many could rise up in the middle to allow large boats to pass.
The sidewalks of the city bustled with jugglers, beggars and drummers who hammered out complicated rhythms on white plastic bins. Full of dynamism, it also portrayed the other side of US society as I'd never witnessed before.
I had never seen so many homeless people in one city: on grass, sidewalks or queuing outside the Mission; they sat defeated and without hope.
Where was the American Dream for them? More like the kind of nightmare depicted in Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman'.
People abandoned by society and now as low as you could get. Would Obamacare save any of these? They desperately needed employment and decent homes and it would take a lot more than healthcare to solve this massive problem.
Portland also seemed familiar in some ways : it had Credit Unions and pawnbrokers and the supermarket even reminded me of Tesco in Merthyr ,in contrast to the one in Syracuse with its Organic section the size of a pie and pasty one in the Valleys.
While I'd only seen one public bus in Syracuse, Portland's transport system was geared for a less affluent, non-driving population and its regular trams and buses were reminiscent of Manchester.
Though, like Syracuse, the bike hardly got a look in and the States are playing catch-up (or should that be 'ketchup'?) on that vital mode of transport.
Like Syracuse, some roads were lined with junk food outlet after outlet, including ones I'd never heard of like Wendys and Jumpin' Jacks. I got to sample the delights of a heart-hammering, sugar-doping yet strangely finger-licking breakfast of hash browns , French toast and maple syrup.
My first event was at Portland State University and entitled 'Culture Wars', as it was based around Tracy Prince's book 'Culture Wars in British Literature' .
Tracy is a lecturer there and led a panel discussion with her well-argued proposition which illustrated clearly how peripheral Welsh Writing in English is in British Literature.
She linked it aptly with the marginalising of black literature and she put forward a strong argument for the greater inclusion of these within the so-called canon.
Given that British Lit. in American universities is largely English Lit., I have a lot of sympathy for her treatise. It is based on sound principles, though when she cited Mrs Windsor as an advocate for greater multicultural diversity I began to lose that sympathy. Like Ed Miliband, the monarchy just want to create a deluded sense of 'One Britain' ( clinging to the last strands of Empire).
My counter argument was that Welsh Literature should be seen as one entity and dealt with as such. In both English and Welsh there is such a tension, similarity and indeed on-going dialogue, especially now that more writers are using both languages, such as Jon Gower, Gwyneth Lewis and Grahame Davies.
I cited my friend at Le Moyne Prof. Dave Lloyd as an example of what could be done. As well as bringing a number of Welsh writers over, he has for many years taught Welsh Lit. ( on a par with Irish Lit.), relating the mythology of the Mabinogion to modern texts in both languages.
Like our Irish counterpart, we deserve a unique place on syllabi, not just in the USA but at home as well.
Taking part in this discussion made me think about the absurd situation in our schools and colleges, where Welsh Writing in English plays a negligible part in that subject English Literature (not even Literature, though it includes many American writers on the syllabus).
British Literature would not comprise one of the most important poets of our time, Seamus Heaney and you cannot divorce these terms from the rapidly-changing political reality. If Scotland votes for their nominal independence next year, where does that leave Britishness and,like Heaney, many Catholics in the six counties (N. Ireland) can hold Irish passports to match their allegiance.
A day manning the Americymru stall at Wordstock followed.
Wordstock is Portland's annual book fair and festival of writing, though Star Wars was a category on a par with Poetry and Fiction and we kept meeting Darth Vader on the road crossing.
There are stalls for individuals, publishers and even magazines on hen keeping! There are also many readings and interviews.
Listening in on a few of these I had the impression of the great I AM, with writers talking to wannabes and the public few and far between ( even the English media orientated Hay has many book lovers).
Writing was viewed solely as a career and the whole Creative Writing industry much criticised by the likes of Rob Minhinnick did seem out on force.
A lot of writers were researching Medieval Wales for their fantasy novels, but had yet to visit this country.
Sometimes, it was a rare pleasure just to talk beyond the sales of books and online processes , about real issues and the power of the vernacular.
The final event I took part in was a reading at Mount Hood Community College, organised by Ceri and Jonathan Morrow, a Welshman there who helps lectures and helps produce their magnificent creative writing magazine 'Perceptions'.
As with Downtown in Syracuse, it was the dialect poems which struck a chord , the tales of Merthyr in all its crazy humour and anger somehow relating to a place just as downtrodden and neglected.
I am grateful to Gaabi and Ceri for giving me these opportunities and also tipping me off about the mountain lions!
Also, to fellow scribblers Phil Rowlands and Chris Keil who made the stay so stimulating.
The Stereophonics conquered Portland that same weekend, but I'd like to think we did our bit for Cymru, showing that we do have a highly distinctive culture and not one which has to ape English literature.
As America once was, so are we a young democracy, trying to forge our own way despite the strictures of economic austerity imposed from London.
On the sidewalk of Burnside,
lying in mid-day drizzle
road a gorge cut deep
by speeding Chevvies, SUVs
the red hand of the crossing
bloody and staying on stop
she wouldn't get over,
there was no point
a cold, damp chrysalis
waiting for metamorphosis
anxious for those butterfly wings
crystal blue and white
her burnt and crumpled skin -
something in her bag keeps twitching
reading a dollar bill-sized book
it's title ? ?