Humbly submitted, my 20th annual celebration of Parking Your Age.
This just in: Space 61 will be unavailable this year.

Meanwhile, did you know there’s a 61-bedroom house on the market in Portland?
 
Excuse the digression: I learned about the 61-bedrom house in my online search for meaning and marvel in the number 61, all part of this Parking Your Age thing.
 
Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver — two of the 20th century’s best pitchers, the teammates both had 61 career shutouts. After all, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the Marvelous Mets’ World Series title.
 
Ah, 61. I thought it would be a boring number (and then I remembered Bob Dylan).
 
In 2000 when I came to work at the Hood River News, I began the practice of parking my age: Placing my car in the parking space matching how old I happen to be for the year.
 
It came about when the parking lot spaces at Hood River News received painted numbers, but never any specific reason was given for this. The then-publisher decided to number them, though no space assignments were ever made.
 
So I decided to start the Parking Your Age practice, aka PYA, which I have done, most years, except when the space was too close to the building (that’s half the point of PYA: For us employees to find a place up and away and leave the closer ones to customers). Some years, the relevant space was too close for comfort to the dumpsters, or used for other purposes, so I had to improvise.
 
I comment upon the PYA tradition each year on my birthday, which, aw shucks, happens to be today.
 
(Spoiler alert) I turn 61, so it would be time to move one space over, except that would put me smack next to El Cuate, and no way am I gonna interfere with coming-and-goings to the Ricardo Lopez family’s beloved food truck. Spaces 62-65 are directly under El Cuate.
 
Well, it’s just as well that I don’t make plans that far ahead anyway ...
 
Which means I will probably stay at 60, and after two decades, PYA comes to an official end.
 
So about that big house? Here are some delightful 61-themed pieces of trivia and whimsy — instead of blowing out candles on a cake:
 
The 62,860-square-foot, brick building sits on just over 3 acres and contains, over four stories, 61 bedrooms, 19 private bathrooms and more. There are also private offices and religious spaces. Asking price: $8.79 million. No PYA for me in THAT driveway.
 
Best 61-related headline this year: “61-Year-Old Woman Just Gave Birth To Her Own Granddaughter”
 
Quoting from the news item: “Matthew Eledge and Elliot Dougherty of Omaha, Neb., needed a surrogate to carry their baby. They never expected she would turn out to be Matthew’s mother.”
 
A Briton named Mark Smith writes a travel blog called “Who is the Man in Seat Sixty-One?” He explains:
 
“Since 2007, I have run seat 61 full-time. Why Seat 61?
 
On European trains, Smith writes, “I would always request seat 61 as it lines up with the window, one of a cozy pair of seats facing each other across a table complete with table lamp, like an old Pullman car. It became a tradition, and I’ve left London in seat 61 en route to destinations such as Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Crimea.”
 
Send me a postcard, Mark.
 
Photographer Jonathan Irish embarked on an ambitious quest to visit every U.S. national park in 52 weeks in honor the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary in 2016.
 
There are 61 parks, including two additional parks added to the system after Irish got started — Gateway Arch and Indiana Dunes National Parks.
 
Next best 61-related headline: “Scientists Have Mapped All of Ötzi the Iceman’s 61 Tattoos.”
 
Researchers have identified all 61 tattoos on Iceman, a 5,300-year-old mummy discovered in an Italian glacier in 1991.
 
“Proving that tattoos can age well, all 61 tattoos on the mummified Ötzi the Iceman have been mapped — and they still look pretty darn good, all things considered. With this new census in hand, researchers hope to finally answer the question of what the tattoos mean.”
 
(By the way: Those tattoos were likely applied “by puncturing the top layer of skin and rubbing in charcoal.” That’s commitment.)
 
A few more short 61-ders:
 
61 is the number of points required to win a “standard” game of Cribbage.
 
Actual racehorse name: 61 Tigers.
 
“Highway 61 Revisited.” You just knew I had to end with some Bob Dylan: The title song on this landmark 1965 album contains some of the best Dylan lines of all time, and you tell me if they aren’t as relevant now as when Dylan likely started writing them, probably around 1961:
 
Now, the roving gambler he was very bored
Trying to create a next world war
He found a promoter who nearly fell off the floor
He said, I never engaged in this kind of thing before
But yes, I think it can be very easily done
We’ll just put some bleachers out in the sun
And have it on Highway 61.
 
If Bob Dylan comes to visit, I’ll ask Ricardo if he can park in 61 for the day.

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