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I’ve landed

August 7, 2009
I can has scooter

George likes the GTS (Orin O'Neill photos)

The streets in Northeast are starting to make sense. Oh, that’s how people here refer to the major sections of Portland. Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest. “Portland” is implied.

In fact, the Willamette River is a very strong dividing line here. There’s east side and west side, and seldom the twain shall meet. Last time I lived here, I was on the west side, and never ventured far east. It just worked out that way.

So the street learning curve this time is a bit steeper. Burnside, Sandy and Broadway are the east-west main drags in Northeast. Sandy is diagonal, the others are longitudinal. And the places where they come together can be tricky. And Broadway is a couplet with Weidler for a mile or so. And so on.

Living in Seattle so long created synaptic paths that made going anywhere like being on autopilot. Rewiring the synapses at this rather late stage of my life is going to be a challenge. But it must be done. I live in Portland now.

At least the avenues run due north-south, and the numbers get bigger as you go east. The learning curve will involve remembering which avenues run all the way through.

The way to learn all this stuff is to ride.

The word “lost” has been expunged from my vocabulary for the time being. A wrong turn is simply an opportunity to explore, or a short cut to be filed for future reference.

Stopped traffic

The Burnside Bridge was up and traffic was stopped, so this guy went for his smart phone.

I also realize my riding style has changed dramatically. I’m riding like I would in Rome—hard on the throttle, lean into the turns, go for that opening. It must be not having to do the “after you, no, after you, no, I insist, after you” thing at 4-way stops, like you do in Seattle. People here seem to know the rules of the road, and know you drive with the throttle, not the brake.

I had an appointment this morning, and Google-mapped the directions. Go east to 82nd, south to Powell Boulevard. Heyyy! It looks like a more direct route would be to head west to MLK and south to Powell.

But then I remembered there are tricky interchanges, which I can always explore on the way back. I will defer to Google’s judgement.

Having finished the appointment, I return to the GTS and notice the topcase is a bit cockeyed. Upon further inspection, I see one of the bolts that attach the luggage rack to the passenger grab handle has disappeared. Yikes!

Gotta stop at Vespa Portland, which is located at just about polar opposite from where I am. No big, I said confidently to myself. I was there yesterday, I should be able to remember how to get there once I get on Naito Parkway.

Well, no. Got to Naito Parkway, no problem. Had to backtrack and go through Northwest, specifically the street someone once called Northwest Trendy-Third. I don’t know if it’s still trendy, but it’s narrow and has lots of 4-way stops. A light bulb went off on Burnside; take the right a few blocks prior and zigzag. Got through the worst of the congestion (and pavement… for a moment I thought I was still in Seattle), and arrived at Vespa Portland.

Formerly Vespa Portland

There was a Vespa LX on the 23rd Avenue side. This is a Stella.

The cross street to 23rd is an entrance to I-405. I’m on it. Take the exit to Burnside, go across the river, and two lanes go to Sandy. At 39th, you’re pointed to an entrance to the Banfield Freeway (I-84) eastbound, but just before you hit the ramp, a little exit is marked “Halsey Street.” Slick. As I said, all this is starting to make sense. Favicon

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