Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Portland, Oregon

October 15th to October 20th

Portland is a fine city! It has a reputation for being a cyclist's town and it's a reputation well deserved. Everybody rides! 2 wheel commuters abound, seemingly outnumbering their car bound brethren and they have taken back the roads!! Ubiquitous cycle lanes criss-cross the city, are well signed and serve many destinations. Heaven!

The skyline from across the Columbia river....

We locate the world's largest neon motel sign outside "The Palms" and settle in to see if the electricity grid can take the strain....

Downtown, Portland impresses further with green spaces all along the river and for several blocks through town. City buildings seem to burst up from more natural foundations....

The river promenade supplies a steady stream of joggers, skaters and cyclists to satisfy the most demanding people watcher....

But we need more and find it in the shape of the USS Blueback; a decommisioned Dallas class submarine which you can check out below deck. It's the one that burst out of the water in the "Hunt for Red October" film. Continuing the tourist theme we hit the planetarium for a 360 degree, surround sound whistle stop tour of the cosmos. And the fascinating museum chronicling the frontiers men who trail-blazed The West including Lewis and Clark. These guys blasted their way though hundreds of miles of impenetrable forest, sometimes resorting to dynamite and fire to clear the way. In doing so they opened up the west and helped usher in great gold rush eras that helped spawn some of the mighty West coast cities of today.... Our little trip by bike on paved roads seems a breeze by comparison....

True to form we fail in our mission to head South and set out East of Portland along the Columbia River Gorge. People rave about the scenery and we'd be fools to miss it.... They are right!

There's the original "scenic route" paralleling the newer more efficient I-84 that passes a series of beautiful waterfalls, by way of views of the "Vista House" overlooking the gorge....

The ride culminates in the famous, "Multnomah Falls". True; it's touristy, but then I can see why. The 620 foot drop is rather photogenically bisected by a Victorian style bridge built in 1914 to replace the wooden one that collapsed....

We return to Portland along the busy I-84 for a lower level view of the river and stop with a really great couple we met riding out of town. Bill and Tracy, many thanks for your hospitality.... any cyclist will tell you how nice it is to get a proper bed and clean clothes after days on the road. Much appreciated. When in England - you know where we are....


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