Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
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A few more photos from Kelly Butte, a place I've already covered in detail here, here, and here. I went back to take another look at the place, because a.) a couple of commenters had mentioned that the city was doing some serious earth moving around the entrance to the old nuclear bunker, and b.) I had a better camera this time.
Sure enough, now there's a huge pile of dirt bulldozed in front of the bunker entrance. I know my earlier Kelly Butte posts have gotten repeated visits from city hall IP addresses, so I've occasionally wondered whether I helped cause all this bulldozing. There's a certain feeling of power in that, although all things considered I'd really rather use my amazing blogo-powers for good. When I argued the city ought to take more of an interest in the place, burying the bunker under a big ugly pile of dirt wasn't what I had in mind.
A couple of weeks after I visited, there was a large fire on the butte, supposedly started by transients. It wasn't clear from the news whether this area was affected or not. I suppose I'd have to go back yet again to find out.
Btw, I was poking around on Flickr and noticed a few other people had Kelly Butte photosets up, so check out these photos from mumblion, jordan_n22, and sukonachi. The last set has a few cool photos from before the bulldozers showed up, and one of the old radio tower that used to be here.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
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If you live in Portland, Laurelhurst Park should require no introduction. Or at least I hope so, since I don't plan on doing one, and I don't have anything in particular to say about the place anyway. What I do have are a few photos that aren't quite like the usual ones you see of the place. A few in infrared, others ultraviolet, and a few natural-light abstract shots tossed in, plus some ducks and geese just to round things out. So enjoy.
If you do want more info about the place, try either of the links in the first sentence of this post. That should be enough to get started.
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So here's a slideshow of my Fremont Bridge photos from the recent Bridge Pedal, er, Stride. As I mentioned in my Marquam Bridge post, I only did this so I could get photos of the two freeway bridges. The Marquam involved a bit of an adventure. The Fremont merely involved following the herd. Like I always say, I'm not much of a joiner, and I can't say I'm really stoked about done the whole Portland tribal ritual thing. I was tempted to make "Mooo" sounds while trudging along in the group, all of us with our identical blue bibs on, but I figured some of my fellow trudgers might take it the wrong way. But it was either this or have the car conveniently break down in the middle of the bridge while I happened to have a camera along.
I hope the photos give some idea of just how gargantuan the Fremont is. It really is freakin' monumental. It's really a bit larger than it strictly needed to be; like the Marquam, the height is partly to not impede commercial river traffic, river traffic that mostly isn't there anymore this far upriver. Also like the Marquam, the Fremont was supposed to accomodate additional freeways that were never built. On the west side, the big ramps labeled "St. Helens / US 30" were supposed to be the beginning of Interstate 505, an upgrade to US 30 intended as the gateway to the suburban sprawl of Sauvie Island, St. Helens, and Scappoose. On the east side, where today's Kerby Avenue ramps are (along with a couple of stub "ghost" ramps) was supposed to be the Rose City Freeway, which I think was supposed to replace the current Banfield as the route of I-84. The Fremont was also vastly more expensive than it needed to be; the state built the Marquam on the cheap about a decade earlier, and it shows. Everyone hated the way it looked, and rightly so, so when it came time to build the Fremont the state went wild and spent six times as much on the new bridge. You have to admit it's a lot nicer. I'd say easily six times as nice as the Marquam. And it's not like there's zero practical benefit from spending the extra cash; I'd have to go back and check on a couple of them, but I'm pretty sure the Fremont is the only bridge in town that doesn't have pilings in the river, so it's not a navigational hazard. So there's that, as far as practicality goes. Also, it turns out to be a great nesting site for peregrine falcons, so there's that too.
Actually one of the coolest things about the Fremont is how they built the thing. The center span was actually built off site as a ginormous single piece, and then barged in and jacked into place. Check out these three photos to get an idea of how they pulled it off. It's kind of a shame it was built long before there was such a thing as the Discovery Channel, as it would've been ideal for one of those "Mega Monster Construction" (or whatever the name is) shows they're always running. Not that I usually watch those.
Oh, well. In any case, I've walked the Fremont now (huzzah!), and I think I got a few decent photos out of the effort. Rather than try to organize them all I just put together a Flash slideshow for your enrapturement, so enjoy, or whatever. If you'd rather page through the photos manually, the title of this post links to my Fremont Bridge photoset, which includes these and various other photos of the thing I've taken over time.
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Believe it or not, the ongoing bridge project takes us out to Troutdale, to the rusty old railroad bridge over the Sandy River. Seriously, this whole post is about that bridge -- although fortunately it's not a very big post. This is what you get when you're willing to do trivial and uninteresting stuff purely for the sake of completeness.
It's a short post because there isn't much to say about it. There's a Bridgehunter page about it, which tells us the bridge dates to 1906. The City of Troutdale's history page says the shiny new transcontinental railroad arrived earlier, in November 1882 (a really big deal at the time, as you might imagine), so there must've been an earlier bridge on the site. I've never seen any photos of that original bridge, not that I've looked very hard. Ok, at all, quite honestly. But just speculating wildly I'd guess it was probably some kind of old growth wood trestle of some sort, it just stands to reason.
Elsewhere on the interwebs, here are a couple of nice photos of the bridge. And a page on Pixelmap mentions, but has no photos of, the bridge -- although it does have some of various other bridges in the area, so I figured I'd pass it along, I mean, if you're already as bored with the thing as I am.
It's fortunate that the rules (such as they are) only call for a visit, an attempt to walk the thing if it's not a railroad or freeway bridge, a batch of photos, and a post about the, uh, adventure. The rules don't specify that the post has to be of any minimum length, nor do they specify that the photos need to be interesting or numerous, and they certainly don't require me to act enthusiastic about the whole thing. In this particular case, I was on my way somewhere else and thought I'd take a couple of minutes to stop for a couple of photos. So I did, and then I continued on my way, end of adventure. Yay, adventures. Or whatever.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
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If you read this humble blog semi-regularly, you might've noticed I keep inflicting this goofy bridge-walking project on you. I've already done one post about the Marquam Bridge, but it didn't involve any footwork, so I couldn't really count it as "done", because them's the rules. The Marquam carries I-5 over the Willamette, and it's normally a vehicles-only bridge except for one Sunday morning each year when they close it for the Portland Bridge Pedal. I didn't quite do last year's event, and I almost didn't do this one either. As I explain rather relentlessly here, I'm not much of a joiner, and I don't usually go for collective tribal undertakings like this. But I had a project to complete, and I figured I could use it (or abuse it) for my own ends.
In my St. Johns Bridge post, about a year ago, I said, and I quote:
This whole bridge series is kind of a silly idea, the more I think about it. Just a few days before my incredible St. Johns adventure, the bridge was part of the huge Portland Bridge Pedal, in which tens of thousands of people biked or walked across it and most of the other bridges around town. Which rather puts a damper on my usual shtick about how weird and unusual it is to walk across the bridge. I actually considered signing up for the non-pedaling version of the bridge pedal, for the unusual opportunity to walk across the Fremont & Marquam, presumably without dying, but I didn't get to it. As I've mentioned before, I'm not much of a joiner, really, and I don't usually go for big group activities like that. Plus it involves getting up wayyy too early on a Sunday morning, which is another thing I'm not real big on. So maybe next year, or not.
This year I signed up for the non-pedaling version. And yes, the whole project is still kind of a silly idea, and no, I'm quite certain I don't want to know how many bridge posts I've done since I said that the first time. For those who haven't been following the score on the ongoing bridge project, which would be basically all of you, I expect, I've already covered all the other Willamette bridges, so I was really only interested in the Fremont and the Marquam, the two that aren't open to foot traffic any other time.
The one complication with the non-pedaling version is that the Marquam wasn't on the official menu. The plan was strictly across the Fremont, and back across the Steel, and the return leg didn't really interest me. I live and work downtown, I can pop across the Steel anytime I want. So when the crowd got to the Steel, I turned aside and moseyed down the Esplanade instead. I figured that to check off the Marquam I'd have to improvise a little. So I wandered down to the Central Eastside exit ramp where riders were getting off the bridge, put the big lens on the camera, and just walked up the bridge the "wrong" way like I was supposed to be there and knew what I was doing. Nobody batted an eye. Carrying a fancy-looking camera is a fantastic way to bluff your way into stuff. It's right up there with wearing a suit -- although the two aren't interchangeable. Wandering up onto the Marquam in serious business attire would get you a lot of weird looks, I expect.
The one downside is that I got there about the time they were trying to wrap things up. I was part of the way across when a couple of cop cars drove by, making sure everyone was either off or heading toward the exit. I figured that was a good time to turn around, although they didn't actually say anything to me. Possibly they too assumed I was supposed to be there. Possibly they figured I had a walkie talkie and would know when they were about to open the thing back up to cars and semis and whatever. Maybe I could've kept going, or at least stayed until someone actually shooed me off the bridge, but that wasn't really the point. I took some unusual photos of the bridge, and from the bridge, that I couldn't have taken any other way, and I think I basically got the flavor of the thing, if you can call it that. So I'm going to go ahead and declare Mission Accomplished on this baby. Having a vast swath of the bridge all to myself for a few minutes, that was an unexpected and rather eerie bonus. I've seen more than my share of post-apocalyptic B movies. An empty freeway is usually a sign that a zombie apocalypse is underway. Or if not that, the there's been a global nuclear war, and gangs of maniacal Australian punk rocker / biker types are fighting over the ruins. Looking at the Marquam, both of these seem entirely plausible. The best outcome would be if the punks and zombies showed up at the same time and decided to fight it out, giving you an opportunity to slip away unnoticed.