Two Speed Walks

This is the building where I used to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The building is called “First & Main.” From the photo, you can guess where they came up with that name. My dentist’s office, called “2nd & Madison,” is on the other side of the building, and is named in a similar manner.

I had a dentist appointment in downtown Portland at the end of February. I began going to that dentist when I worked in the same building, and then I never stopped going. The staff is always great, professional, practical, and sensitive to my financial needs (since I pay out of pocket). I tried switching dentists once, for convenience. I went to a Timber Dental that was barely one block from Pedro’s house. They were busy, and shuffled patients through quickly. The cleaning was not thorough. My mind was blown at how freakishly expensive it was. A simple visit with a checkup, x-rays, cleaning, and flouride treatment was $627. The same exact services at my usual, 2nd & Madison Dental, costs me $170. So, I continue to take the trouble to go downtown and give them my business. Dr. Cindy O’Loughlin is always there, always personable, and she has thanked me repeatedly for continuing my business during the pandemic and after flirting with Timber Dental.

Anyway, to keep my fitness training interesting, I had the idea to speed walk the old route I used to walk when I worked downtown: a loop that crosses two bridges and follows the Willamette River waterfront. I wore my workout gear to the dentist’s office, so I could leave from there. It wasn’t until payment time when I realized that, in the interest of not carrying more than I had to for my run, I had left my purse in the Jeep. I couldn’t pay at all.

“No worries!” they assured me. “With seven years of being our loyal patient, we are not concerned about it. Just call in with payment when you get a chance.” I thanked them and took off at a trot, crossed Naito Parkway in no time, and was able to begin my speed walk on the waterfront.

The double-decker Marquam Bridge carries cars traveling Interstate 5 north and south through Portland. Behind it, you can see the fanned cables supporting Portland’s brand new bridge: Tilikum Crossing.

I’ve traveled around the world and have seen that in some places people are actively moving outside, and in some places, not so much. The city of Portland is one place where pedestrians and bicyclists are a priority. The waterfront is developed with them in mind, and the paths are often busy with people, even on cold and rainy days. I tried to crop them out of my photos.

A Canada goose hilariously used the crosswalk to cross the road safely. I’ve seen this at other times in Portland. Canada geese cross busy city streets using crosswalks, and motorists patiently stop and wait for them. Have you seen this in other places? Am I imagining this?
Interesting art beside interesting architecture.

I walked across Tilikum Crossing for the very first time. The bridge was still under construction when I worked in this area, and never had the chance to use it. Unlike other bridges, Tilikum Crossing is not for cars. Only pedestrians, bikes, and the light rail train are allowed to use it. I have included a photo of it near the bottom of this post.

A view of Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) with the red stack and the glass pyramid on top that makes me think of the Louvre. You can also see the ramp to the dock where the USS Blueback SS-581 submarine waits for daily tours from the museum. There’s a better photo below.
A closer look at the image hanging on the wall of the museum. I do not know the significance. It says WE ARE THE LAND.
Portland city skyline, and my favourite bridge, Hawthorne Bridge, to the right.
Portland Fire & Rescue boat turning around to dock beneath the Hawthorne Bridge.
A view of the Sternwheeler PORTLAND, docked across the river. This boat is a museum when docked, and occasionally welcomes tours for short trips up and down the river. On the right, you can see the Burnside Bridge, with the tall towers of the Steel Bridge rising behind it.
One of Portland’s iconic skyscrapers, called Big Pink, by locals. Another icon is on the right side of the photo, the sign in the shape of the state of Oregon, says “Portland, Oregon.” It originally was the business sign for White Stag Sportswear, and the stag remains to this day. At Christmastime, the stag has a red nose.
By Steve Morgan, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Along the Eastbank Esplanade, there wasn’t room for a trail, so a floating trail was built.
Recently, it has popped into people’s minds to put locks of love onto the safety barrier of the floating trail. Since it’s a new idea, there aren’t very many, but I imagine that will change soon. Here, you can see the Steel Bridge in the distance.
The Steel Bridge is a double-decker train bridge. Regular long-distance freight trains and Amtrak use the lower level, while the Portland light rail train, the MAX, uses the upper level. People, bicycles, and dogs use the pedestrian bridge you can see at the lower level.
Looking through steel support beams and over the top of the rails on the Steel Bridge for a view of the Broadway Bridge to the north, and the huge, graceful curve of the Fremont Bridge behind it.
A view of Union Station’s clock tower from Steel Bridge.
Steel Bridge connects to the Japanese American Historical Plaza, which is surrounded by cherry trees. Pedro suggested I get a photo of the cherry blossoms while I was on my loop, so I took this photo for him as a joke. BUT!!! This walk was a few weeks ago, and just yesterday I actually did get some great pics of the cherries blossoming.
Looking across the river to where I had just been, on the Eastbank Esplanade, I saw some geese flying by and realized the sky was getting darker.

I noticed, looking away from the setting sun finally, that it was getting darker. I had been walking fast, but stopping often for photos, so maybe it wasn’t so speedy after all. Luckily, I was more than halfway done with my 4 1/2 mile loop. I picked up my pace and was soon headed away from the river and to my car. I was parked beside a park that had interesting ornaments in the trees that I had not noticed earlier in the day, but now they were lit up for the evening.

Lights in the trees.

Portland has 12 bridges, and one of the city’s many nicknames is Bridge City. You’ve had a look at several of them. Prettiest of all is the St. John’s Bridge, which is not here. My mom’s favourite was the Sellwood Bridge, also not here. My fave is the Hawthorne Bridge, and I wrote a blog post about it thirteen years ago.

That evening, I rang the office and Cindy herself answered the phone. I explained that I was calling to pay, because the women at the counter said it would be ok. “Of course!” she agreed. She looked through the records as she talked, “You’ve been our client forrrrr….. seven years! Well I am so glad they told you that because we are so grateful to have you back for so many years.” It was nice to know that she runs the kind of environment where the people at the counter have autonomy to some degree, and that she supports their decisions.

I was surprised that the very next week, I completed almost that same exact loop, just a little shorter – only 4 miles – and circled the other direction. The weather was much worse.

The day before the race I went to the Oregon Convention Center to go pick up my race packet for Portland’s gigantic Shamrock Run. It was pretty straightforward and streamlined, which is likely due to having tens of thousands of participants every year, and learning how to do it right.

It was easy to find where to go inside the huge convention center.

After I picked up my bib, and some safety pins to attach it, and a clear bag to use for checking in personal items for staff to hold during the race, and my Shamrock Run T-shirt…I headed for the door. I stopped with curiosity to see dozens of people clustered around three big posters, and getting selfies in front of them. I asked someone what it was and they said if you had registered for the race, your name would be there. So I looked, and found it!

One of the posters. If you look closely, you can see that there are names in white, filling the image.
There’s my name!

Race day was forecast to be very cold and very wet. Portland delivered! I planned ahead and brought a fuzzy headband and gloves and a raincoat. Pedro had participated in the Shamrock Run before (I had not) and warned me that parking is impossible because it’s such a big event. So he dropped me off at a transit center, and I rode the MAX into downtown.

Many of my fellow passengers were racers like me, with the same idea.

A couple of my Belle Brigade ladies were going to walk the race with me, but one got very sick the day before and had to stay home. I found the other one though! Veronica and I were dressed as festively as we could, despite the weather. She had begun with two pigtails decorated with green ribbons, but pulled those out in order to wear a warm hat instead.

Many wet, cold people wishing the race would start soon so we can get our blood pumping.
Waiting for the starting gun.
This time, I started at the cherry trees, then crossed the Steel Bridge, and made my way to the Eastbank Esplanade in the first mile.
It was a very wet day.
I did take a better photo of the submarine at OMSI though.
And a photo of what it looks like to be on Tilikum Crossing, which I had not thought of the week before.
It was raining so much my glasses were covered in droplets, making it hard to see.

The race was soon over and we both had warmed up a bit despite being pretty wet by the end. I had to say goodbye to Veronica and rush off to get home and shower in time for Pedro and I to go to a play. It all worked out and the busy, busy weekend came off without a hitch.

All my stuff, discarded into a pile as soon as I got home.

15 thoughts on “Two Speed Walks

  1. Enjoyed the ssnspshots of Portland and of the race – Greta design idea to add the names to the poster like that!
    And regarding the saying about “we are the land” / I once heard someone talk about how dust to dust and we humans have the same Montmorillonite clay in our body that breaks down and goes back to the earth….

    1. Hi Yvette! It’s nice to hear from you and I’m glad you enjoyed a pretty spring look at my city. That’s a wonderful perspective on “we are the land,” and I’ll add that to my impression of the artwork. Of course, humans would break down into the earth even without any clay in our bodies, but I don’t mind adding minerals to my thoughts of who I am and what I’m made of. 🙂 From a Native perspective, we are constantly reminding ourselves and others that we are of the land/not separate on top of the land. We are part of the landscape like other living beings are part of it, and there should be reciprocity in the relationship: we harvest the land and therefore should steward the land. We each depend on each other. My guess is that the meaning of the art on the wall is something like that. I still do not know why it’s posted in that particular place, but at our Cherokee meetings we have been discussing a planned common plaza that will be for the use of Native people in the area, and I think it is planned to be built near that location.

      1. “We are part of the landscape like other living beings are part of it, and there should be reciprocity in the relationship: we harvest the land”
        I really like how you worded that!

        And enjoyed your post so much –
        Have a great day

  2. Oh and the locks on the bridge – if this continues it could cause structure damage to the bridge – they don’t allow it in France and other places anymore because the weight takes a toll

      1. Well it is a good idea in some ways – like e symbol of putting a lock on to represent lasting or “locked in” love 🤍💛
        But I wonder what will happen with the spot you photographed

      2. Oh and I heard that we humans already have the type of clay in us – or it is slightly in what we decompose to – oh I dunno

    1. Thanks Curt! I think Portland is beautiful too. Now that Pedro and I are planning to move in together, I will be leaving Rainier and seeking our new home closer to the city. So I will get to see it more often. Of course I must still train, as I am now the Captain of the speed-walking Portland to Coast team. It wouldn’t do to get lazy, ha ha!!

      1. One, good news about moving in with Pedro. Sorry about leaving, Rainier, however. It’s a beautiful property, even if your driveway could be a bit bigger. Grin. Oooh, Captain Crystal!

  3. As you can tell, I’m slow getting to posts these days. It’s always nice to see your smiling face and so much of Portland. I really miss it. You are going to have to start wearing billed caps in the rain. That’s why I wear them. Keeps the glasses dry so I can see where I’m going. Keeping the head warm is essential to staying well in the rain. Sounds like you have found a great dentist. I have not been as fortunate. Wishing you and Pedro a happy Easter.

    1. I didn’t plan right for the rain. I’ll have to remember billed caps when it’s raining. I did at least remember gloves and the headband to keep my ears warm. I’m also glad I decided to go with the rain jacket. I wasn’t going to wear it at first, because it’s not green. But I would have been soaked without it. We had a nice Easter with the kids who are old for most of the Easter-themed activities in Portland. We took a chance and went to the arcade to see if it might be empty since families would be at church or egg-hunting. It worked! The arcade had few people and was a lot more fun when we didn’t have to battle for a chance to play the games.

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