Sunday, September 22, 2013

Public Transportation

On Thursday and Friday I went across Portland to the Expo Center to the Quilt Expo event and both days I took MAX, the local light rail system that connects most parts of Portland and extends out into Washington County, where I live. The Expo Center is 20 miles from where I live, through heavy traffic and once there the parking is expensive. For $2 round trip, I can take a MAX train instead; not have to drive, see the city from a different perspective and take photos out the window!

I caught the train in Beaverton and rode into the city, getting off to change trains in the center of downtown Portland at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Here comes my train that will take me to the Expo Center. Clang! Clang!

One of the things I always notice when I ride MAX is that so many of the passengers are people who would live much different lives without this kind of public transportation. There are always people with disabilities on the trains. On Friday I saw 3 people in wheelchairs board and leave the train with relative ease. There was a blind man in my car on Thursday. I am sure there are people with disabilities that are not as visible that use the system as well. Elderly people, poor people, students, young teenagers and those of us who just didn't want to drive that day. Interesting that nearly everyone finds their seat and then pulls out their phone and sometimes earphones. Not unusual to see somebody tapping their foot or nodding their head to the rhythm of their private music—some of it coming from earphones and some apparently emanating from mystery sources!

The city is beautiful, especially when you look up. That's something you can't do when you're driving, or even walking along the sidewalk. Pioneer Courthouse Square is especially beautiful—that big, open space surrounded by lovely old buildings. That's where the blue-haired lady sells her sumptuous bouquets.

The Expo Center is the end of the line. When you get there you are almost to the Columbia River where you cross into Washington state, but first you have to cross the Willamette, the river that divides Portland.

Once across the river we are headed into relatively unfamiliar territory for me. North Portland was falling into decay when we came here 20 years ago. These days a lot good is happening there, but I seldom find myself in that part of the city and it feels like discovering a whole new place. These are the newer MAX stops out north and each has its own distinctive, artistic touches.

Elegant iron work on the railings. Thorny rosebushes, I think, near the Rose Garden Arena.

This is my favorite—wonderful mosaic-ed pillars designed by extraordinary Portland fiber artist Adrienne Cruz.

I tried to take a photo of a shop in a rather shabby industrial area that looks extremely interesting. I was jostled just as I shot and this is what I got.

 What in the world is "entombed wood?" And how does it become the beautiful furniture sitting in the doorway on the right? Fortunately I noticed the web address above the door for where I learned that entombed wood is wood that has been buried in the earth or has been underwater. Someday I think I need to get off the train and see this for myself.

Curiosities abound.

The Kenton neighborhood figure of Paul Bunyan. Does it look like he has his boots on the wrong feet?

I suppose I would tire of the trip if I rode MAX a lot, but for me it is something of an adventure. There were photos I would like to have taken, like the beautiful Somali woman, sleeping in her seat in her somber long black dress with the lovely beaded designs on the sleeves. It seemed wrong to take her picture as she slept, tempted though I was. I was poised and ready to get a shot of the big, bronze goose near the Goose Hollow station when a train going the other direction sped past between me and the goose. Too bad. He's a beauty, but someone got a photo and here it is. I also planned to take a photo of my cute little Miliken Way station in Beaverton at the end of this small journey, but by then my feet hurt and I had to pee, so I forgot the photo and hurried on home...


  1. Great post. Left me laughing.

  2. Thanks for sharing your journey. :)

  3. Thanks for the mini-tour. I love taking vicarious trips to places I probably won't get to see.

  4. Oh, definitely stop in to EcoPDX sometime. Most of the wood is pulled up out of rivers or lakes and he makes lovely furniture out of it. The styling leans a bit toward the rustic, but the wood is beautiful and the furniture has a minimalist charm.

  5. I'd love to take a train ride with you! I feel the same way about trains, subways and buses. There's so much to see both inside and outside. And Portland is a beautiful city to experience!