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One can’t not

January 21, 2010
GTS' seat is frayed

The kittehs are taking their toll on the GTS' seat (Orin O'Neill photos)

The sun was shining, for gosh sakes! Good thing I had somewhere to go.

A prescription needed refilling, so off to the Portland VA Medical Center I went. Yes, I could’ve refilled it via the computerized phone-in system, but wasting such a beautiful day just wouldn’t be right.

The bright sunshine makes the GTS look rather second-hand. Not only is the seat showing the effects of dug-in kitteh claws (the neighborhood cats find the GTS’ seat as agreeable a perch as George does), the little scratches and dings shine like beacons. I don’t remember when I last washed the thing.

When I had the GTS on Craigslist, a guy wanted to buy it for his wife, but he was concerned that there were body imperfections (not to mention the dent in the left rear quarter). She wouldn’t ride a scooter that had scratches or, heaven forbid, a dent.

The tooth marks are still on my tongue from biting it so many times. While Americans fetishize motorized 2-wheeled vehicles like no one else on Earth, that’s one for Carolyn Hax. This guy’s wife would really be traumatized if she traveled to, say, Paris. Every modern Vespa I saw there was a beater. Bent, bashed-in, faded, broken—it almost seemed the damage was a badge of honor. But they seemed to work just fine, because people were riding them.

At the moment, I’m much more concerned about letting the 12,000-mile service slip. That’s one of the major ones, but money is much too tight to mention at the moment, so I ride it gently and keep my fingers crossed that nothing breaks.

Swooping off Sandy Boulevard onto the I-84 ramp, traffic is light, though there are at least five vehicles behind me. Well behind me, thankfully. I always wonder if the drivers of such vehicles ask themselves, “what the @#$% is that moped doing on the freeway?”

After considering crossing the Marquam Bridge and exiting from 405, I decide to hop off at the Morrison Bridge. Taking the former route would require weaving across four lanes on the bridge, which always makes me a bit nervous. The Morrison’s grating is very fine, affecting the front Sava only slightly. I am so looking forward to mounting the Kenda that’s been waiting patiently in the bedroom closet.

The sun is really out as I head south on Broadway. I believe there’s a speed you can go that will get you through all the green lights between Morrison Street and PSU, but I haven’t found it yet. Did manage to do a few more consecutive blocks, though.

I’m glad not to have wasted the knowledge of how to get to the VAMC as the GTS negotiates the curves of Terwilliger Boulevard.

The prescription refilled, I stop at one of the many scenic viewpoints on Terwilliger to get a few pictures.

Downtown Portland

Most of the views are only available when the trees are bare, though that might not have been the case when the viewpoints were created.

The moto blogosphere has been buzzing lately about the relationship between riding and photography; one commenter observed that riding blogs have a tendency to turn into photo blogs.

I’m guessing the reason for that is the heightened awareness one must bring to the table when rolling on two wheels. In the cage, things like road debris, inattention by your fellow drivers and changing weather are seldom a big deal. On two wheels, another matter entirely.

But once you’ve ensured all is well, that awareness means you see the view you never noticed before, or the details of the old building you pass every day and didn’t used to think about.

It helps that incredibly compact, sophisticated digital cameras are inexpensive and easy to carry. Capturing the images heightened awareness has brought to your attention has never been easier. Neither has sharing them.

The spot from where I took the pic of downtown Portland offers a panoramic view of the city—at least when the trees are bare. Portland is more compact than Seattle, but Portland is not given to the kind of real estate boom-and-bust Seattle experiences. Downtown Portland’s official bird is not the construction crane, and downtown Portland probably isn’t home to the quantities of empty office space Seattle is likely to be stuck with for years to come. Oh, and there aren’t all these big holes in the ground like you find in Seattle, projects nipped in the bud due to tight credit and a tanking real estate market.

Not that Portland is completely free of such things.

South Waterfront

The South Waterfront was going to provide transit-friendly development containing condos, offices and an aerial tram to whisk high-rise dwellers to their jobs on Pill Hill.

Things didn’t quite work out that way. When I landed here, condo units in one of the high-rises were offered on auction, bids starting at $68,000 (vs. a quarter mil or so original price).

As I amble along Naito Parkway, the sun shines more brightly than it has in weeks. It won’t set until 5:01 pm (YAY!). The temperature readout shows 62°F as I merge onto I-84, houseward-bound. Winter is highly overrated. I’m ready for spring. Favicon

One Comment
  1. January 23, 2010 11:46 am

    I’m ready for spring, too!

Comments are closed.