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Interstate Avenue

February 21, 2010

Saturday was Opening Day at Portland International Raceway. While the quick way to get there is I-84 west/I-5 north, lately I’ve noticed the GTS emits a faint burning rubber smell after freeway riding. I’ve been a bad boy—the drive belt didn’t get replaced at 9,300 miles, and I’m about 4,000 miles past that. No money, remember?

Of course, you don’t have to take freeways. There’s always Interstate Avenue.

the Rose Quarter

Orin O'Neill photos

You take Broadway to the Rose Quarter, so named for the Rose Garden (where the Portland Trailblazers play), then take a left-right jog onto Interstate Avenue.

I’m guessing before there was an I-5, this was how you got to the Interstate Bridge across the Columbia River. You’ll notice lots of motels.

The Palms Motel's sign

The major chains are conspicuous by their absence. The motels are small, family-run establishments, the kind Rick Steves would recommend if they were in Europe.

Albina-Mississippi MAX station

North Portland used to be pretty sketchy, but construction of the MAX Yellow Line from downtown to the Expo Center has turned the neighborhood’s fortunes around. While it’s now thought of as trendy and more and more often being referred to as “NoPo,” the place has not become annoyingly gentrified. Not yet, anyway.

Interstate Lanes bowling alley

See, there’s a bowling alley. Portland has tons of them, unlike Seattle, which seems to think cookie-cutter 4-story condo buildings are a better use of the land.

The Alibi lounge & restaurant

Portland also has lots of places like The Alibi. I get the impression this place has always been a tiki bar, unlike the ones that jumped on the tiki revival a few years ago.

Ainsworth Drug

Across the street from The Alibi is this drug store. I’m not sure if the store is really trying to blend into the background, or if it just worked out that way. There’s lots of restored bare brick on Interstate Avenue, and lots of early 21st century “sustainable” style, too.

But there’s not a lot of traffic, and the pavement is wonderful. Venture a few blocks east or west you’ll see lots of nice little old houses and small apartment buildings. You’ll realize why the neighborhood has become popular. Favicon

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7 Comments
  1. February 21, 2010 7:17 pm

    Cool post – so, are the police officers in North Portland known as the NoPo PoPo??? North Portland looks like a great place, and looks to be nicer (and safer) than Aurora Avenue in Seattle which seems to have a similar origin.

  2. February 22, 2010 3:17 pm

    I’d be careful what you say to a cop in this town… you might get shot. That seems to happen a lot. Jesse Jackson was in town to tell the mayor this sh*t is not acceptable. Maybe not in so many words.

    To give you an idea how far the place has come, in the early ’80s when I first started visiting Portland regularly, people told me you didn’t go to the Albina-Mississippi area (where the MAX stop pic was taken) if you placed any value on your life…

  3. February 23, 2010 8:24 pm

    Dear Sir:

    I could very easily spend a few days at “The Palms” and a few evenings at “The Alibi.” The riding club I belong to is filled with guys with better than average mechanical abilities. Fot the first time in six years, I am going to rely on these guys for handling my annual maintenance on the K75. I just do not have the resources to get the work done at a shop that charges $100/$125 per hour, plus the cost of parts. Not this year.

    I have no idea what’s entailed with switching out that belt you described. Is it something your buddies could handle? It just sounds to me like one of those damn things that could go on the road and do a lot more damage than the initial cost of replacing the belt. (As you are aware, I have no practical nor working knowledge of scooters. I barely understand the K75.)

    Fondest regards,
    Jack• reep • Toad

  4. February 23, 2010 9:58 pm

    Steve Williams (Scooter in the Sticks) attempted to swap out the drive belt on his Vespa LX 150 and the whole mess self-destructed. The belts are not cheap; everyone tells me, no, there’s no generic Gates or Goodyear equivalent to the Piaggio item, which costs well over $100.

    Said belt spins on variators. No mere pulleys, these things change size by means of springs, weights, rollers and magic. The weights, springs and rollers are wear items. I used to wrench on race cars, but they had nothing like this. The GTS is my sole means of transportation, therefore I prefer to leave this task to someone who knows what the hell they’re doing.

    To learn more, go to Wikipedia and search on “Continuously Variable Transmission.” And yes, you are right, a catastrophic failure on the road would end up costing far more than replacing it while it’s still intact. Especially since I had to let my AAA Plus RV membership lapse…

  5. February 24, 2010 8:55 am

    Dear Sir:

    One hundred dollars for the belt! A belt that wears out in 10,000 miles! Good heavens! (I really said something else.) Quite right to leave this to someone who’s great at it. My initial fear was that you’d be clipping along in traffic, have this thing come undone, nd somehow manage to lock up the real wheel for a bonus surprise. I guess 10,000 miles is about the distance I’d replace tires on the K75. But a hundred dollars for the belt. Nothing fun is cheap.

    I got into an argument with the phone company over my cell bill last week. My closing comment was to cite the outrageous amounts of money these extortionists have made off me over the past ten years. I said it was their turn to be nice to me for a change. The phone went dead in my hand and remained so until they got a call from my check book.

    I am going to see about getting my perscriptions for arthritis medicine filled by someone named “Little Suade” on a street corner in Philly later. I have complete confidence in my buddies that they will be able to change the coolant in Fire Balls this weekend.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  6. February 24, 2010 11:28 am

    Jack, your GF used to have an Audi, so surely you know putting the 4-ring logo on any automobile part increases the price by a multiple of four (five for a Porsche or Mercedes-Benz)? Same deal here, I’m afraid. A modern Vespa is a luxury item, you see. The top case will set you back $400+ because it has a Vespa logo on the back. A Givi is not only cheaper, it’s a much more substantial bit of kit.

    The GTS actually spends considerable time free-wheeling, so the only way could imagine the rear wheel locking up would be a wheel-bearing failure…

  7. March 2, 2010 4:41 pm

    Interstate Avenue has, indeed, gentrified. I can remember when it was a lot more, shall we say, interesting? Seems to me the Marco Polo got torn down. That was the place that was rented in half hour blocks.

    Funny how things change. I almost like them better the old way.

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