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August 30, 2009
The GTS at Fred Meyer

The GTS in the Hazel Dell Fred Meyer parking lot (Orin O'Neill photos)

I wanted a copy of the Sunday Seattle Times. For the help-wanted ads.

Remember, I’ve landed in Portland. I’ve also landed in the state with the third-highest unemployment in the U.S. I’d like to stay, but I’d also like an income at some time in the near future. That might not be possible here.

Of course, I could end up somewhere completely different. Tri-Cities. Spokane. The harebrained idea of Charlotte, N.C. is still out there, too.

But I digress. When I last lived in the Rose City, it was possible to get the Sunday Seattle paper at the Jantzen Beach Safeway, which is just off I-5, just off the Interstate Bridge, southbound.

I suppose I could just hop on the freeways and get off just before the bridge. But that’s boring.

I decide instead to take Broadway almost to the bridge, hang a left at the Coliseum, and a right on Interstate Avenue.

Interstate Avenue is the main north-south drag in North Portland. When I first started visiting Portland regularly, it was not a nice place. Not at all. You didn’t go here if you placed any value on your life. Kinda like Seattle’s Belltown, before the gazillion-dollar condos.

Since the MAX Yellow Line got built, the place has gotten a lot nicer. But it’s not exactly gentrified, either. It’s just been spruced up.

Yes, that's a statue of Paul Bunyan. In Portland, Ore.

In fact, the Kenton neighborhood, home to Paul Bunyan, is getting some fairly serious attention from the city and private developers. And no, I have no idea why there’s a gigantic statue of Paul Bunyan in this particular place.

Anyway, northbound Interstate Avenue ends as an entrance ramp to I-5 near West Delta Park. Zip on, and almost immediately, zip off. I’m at the Jantzen Beach Safeway in minutes.

Unfortunately, no Times. Just The Oregonian and The Columbian, the Other Vancouver’s daily paper.

Okay, another possibility would be the Fred Meyer in Hazel Dell. In Clark County. On the other side of the Columbia River.

The memory is a bit faulty as I attempt to steer the GTS off Hayden Island, but I’m finally headed north. Traffic is actually going the speed limit on the bridge approach. Wow.

The Interstate Bridge has a nice, smooth concrete surface and no grates. “Welcome to Washington” says the brick wall surrounded by flowers.

It’s a mile or two until the exit, which no longer signed as “Hazel Dell,” but “Hwy 99 North.” Which it is, though I’m not sure what prompted the change.

Not too much has changed here. The Taco Time is now a Muchas Gracias, the Texaco car wash will still wash your car, but has been stripped of gas pumps, and the former Pep Boys next to Fred Meyer is now a Salvation Army thrift store.

The newspaper rack contains The O and The C, and some weekly that serves “Northern Clark and Southern Cowlitz Counties.” While Portland is world famous for its Urban Growth Boundary, the dirty little secret is it only works because Clark County is totally okay with beige suburban sprawl. It’s Portland’s safety valve.

Rich's magazines

Rich's Cigar Store in downtown Portland has more magazines than cigars.

So back to Portland I go, to the place that surely would have the Sunday Times: Rich’s Cigar Store.

This downtown Portland fixture is famous for its ginormous selection of magazines. I suppose people might still smoke cigars or pipes while reading magazines. I never did.

In fact, a small motorsports magazine that had my name on the masthead was sold here, and in only a few other places.

The newspaper selection contains all the usual suspects. But no Times. Dang. I’ll just have to go online. Favicon

  1. August 30, 2009 7:58 pm

    The statue was originally built in June of 1959. I was only 9 months old but Oregon was celebrating its 100th birthday as a state. Paul was a part of the festivities. The statue wasn’t meant to last a long time, but the folks adopted it. Now it’s part of a historic landmark registry.

    You can read about it here

    I sincerely hope things work out for you soon as far as stability goes. It must be rough being up in the air right now.

  2. August 30, 2009 8:19 pm

    Irondad, I’ve been up in the air for a few years now. I honestly wonder if I would even know how economic stability feels.

    Thanks for the history lesson.

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