Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Wednesday Post

Greetings from Portland, Oregon, City of Roses
The Avatar returns from whence he come, and then leaves again

Last Wednesday evening, after spending a few days at my attorney's place, my running Avatar came down out of the hills into downtown Portland, crossed the Hawthorne Bridge over to the beautiful East Side, and returned to Castle 5000, from whence his journey started last October.  We showed him the new paint job in the entrance area and some of the changes in the side garden, and he got to be there while we got some plumbing work done.  It was great.

The endgame of his return home was a little quirky.  First, I went for a run in Hillsboro in which the two of us met up and had a chance to run together for a few miles.  Then, only a few weeks after I had been running in Portland while he was running on the Oregon Coast, there was a weekend where I was running on the Oregon Coast, and he was running in Portland.  There was also an unfortunate incident where he was bitten by a virtual rottweiler, but he escaped serious harm and is healing up nicely.

Portland, Oregon, is a picturesque provincial city with modest but respectable cultural amenities.  It has developed a unique and in many ways healthier-than-average urban landscape through the expedient of being perhaps the only large American city never to have endured a sustained economic boom.  Enviable soil, minimal frosts, and a climate that keeps everything quite well-watered for 10 months out of the year create a lush presence of plant life in most neighborhoods, and a chronic crisis in the streets maintenance budgets guarantees sudden pockets of small-town charm along dirt roads and quaint alleys all over town.

It is actually quite a nice place to live, so long you don't mind strangers asking you for money every thirty seconds. For the out-of-town visitor, we can recommend a very large bookstore, or several interesting natural points of interest an hour or two out of town, or spending your vacation in a city that has more tourist attractions.

If you have a thing for bridges, on the other hand, you're in for a big treat!

We've got a lot of them.  Portlanders, recite along with me from north to south!  St. Johns!  Fremont!  Broadway!  Steel!  Burnside!  Morrison!  Hawthorne!  Marquam!  Ross Island!  and (shudder) Sellwood!  Those fine structures span the Willamette River, upon which the city is built.  ("Willamette," it is only fair to tell you, is a three-syllable word that rhymes with "damn it.")

Now, to the north of the city is the Columbia River, spanned only by a couple of freeway bridges.  On the eastward of these, the eight lines of Interstate 205 are separated by a highly functional and sensible but not altogether pleasant bicycle path.  It was on this path that the Avatar spent last Saturday night, having made good distance after leaving home for the second time.  (We ran together as far as Prescott and Cully, where I turned left on the former and he continued northeast along the later.  I watched him go with a strangely poignant sense of loss.  I wonder if he'll ever be back?)

Looking north on the Glen Jackson Bridge, that's Government Island in the foreground and the State of Washington on the opposite shore.  The Avatar is most of the way across, but since the thalweg hugs the north bank along this stretch of river, he's still a minute or two short of the state line.  (What's a thalweg?  I'll tell you when you're a little older.)  Once he gets to the north shore, he'll turn right and finally, after all of these months, get serious about starting toward the East Coast.  (East Coast readers, however, are warned that state lines don't zip past like Burma Shave signs out here like they do for you.  By the shortest route, it would take the Avatar 350 miles just to get to Idaho.  It will be quite some time before he's "back East," by which I mean in Iowa.)

1 comment:

gl. said...

goodbye, avatar! glad you stopped by!

"through the expedient of being perhaps the only large American city never to have endured a sustained economic boom.": interesting!