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77 degrees and sunny, for a change

May 7, 2010
The GTS in Oregon City

Parked in downtown Oregon City, for 35 cents (Orin O'Neill photos)

While today was International Female Ride Day, Scootin’ Old Skool encourages everyone to ride, regardless of gender (or gender identity).

For the time being, my weekend is Thursday and Friday, and I wanted to take full advantage of the weather.

I’d been meaning to go for a ride on OR 43, which runs along the west bank of the Willamette River. There are some great views, especially on the parts of the road that climb into the hills, but unfortunately no safe places to pull off and take pictures.

Downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon

OR 43 passes through Lake Oswego. The downtown area was nowhere near as built-up when I last lived in Portland. They’re big on density and infill here.

Okay, the last time I lived in Portland I actually lived in West Linn. To this day, I’m not sure why I made that choice. West Linn is the functional equivalent of Issaquah, Wash., deepest, beige-est suburbia. I did live across the street from a grocery store and was able to take a bus to my job in Lake Oswego, but still had to drive everywhere else.

West Linn fetishized dog store

The building above housed a transmission repair shop when I lived in West Linn. Now it caters to owners of fetishized dogs. There seem to be way more businesses of that type per capita in Portland than in Seattle, or anywhere else. At least the dogs’ owners don’t feel compelled to bring them to coffee shops.

Oregon City lies just south of West Linn.

The Oregon City Bridge and Municipal Elevator

The pale green tower is Oregon City’s Municipal Elevator. Yes, I said elevator. Since part of Oregon City is on a cliff, building a road from downtown was not considered practical, so they built an elevator instead. This predates the Aerial Tram by decades.

The bridge was supposed to close for renovation earlier this year, but that work has been put off for a couple of years, for a variety of reasons.

Oregon City Bridge cracked concrete

Let’s hope the work doesn’t get put off too long.

Willamette Falls in the distance

Look to the west and you’ll see Willamette Falls. You’ll also notice the industrial buildings. Oregon City was the western end of the Oregon Trail, and for a time was Oregon’s biggest city. Rivers were excellent sources of power for factories, whether directly from water or later, by electrical generation. As with most forest-product industries, production peaked a long time ago. Nobody is thinking about turning the buildings into upscale condos, at least not yet.

I decided to make the return trip on McLoughlin Boulevard. Unlike Canyon Road in Beaverton, there are no shuttered car dealerships on this route. There is, however, a Vespa dealer.

Vespa Milwaukie

Vespa Milwaukie (yes, in Oregon it’s spelled “ie”) has only been around for two years, but has become Oregon’s Vespa sales leader. It’s not difficult to see why—they’re open seven days a week, they do mobile service and there’s no skate park in the middle of their showroom. The GTS is approaching the 15K milestone, so I plan to bring it by for an oil and filter change.

Further north, you will find The Bomber.

The Bomber, on McLoughlin Boulevard

Many years ago, someone got the idea to use a WWII B-17 (I think that’s what it is) as a roof for a gas station. The gas station is long gone, though The Bomber restaurant is still in business. There’s a sign on the front of the plane that talks about restoration, but like the ferry Kalakala, it’s probably much too far gone to realistically return to the air.

Heading toward the Sellwood Bridge, I decide to go through the Sellwood neighborhood instead, picking up SE 39th Avenue, excuse me, César Chavez Boulevard. North of Glisan, a fellow scooterist stops to say hi.

Sam on his Honda Elite 80

Sam is riding a red 2002 Honda Elite 80 that looks brand new. He tells me it sat in a garage for a long, long time until he bought it. He looks longingly at the GTS. “Now that’s more like it,” he says.

We chat at the ill-timed red lights south of the Confluence. He says he just got his scooter a couple weeks ago, and that he used to get around strictly by bicycle. I used to be an avid cyclist, but the combination of bad knee, bad hip and partial right foot mean my bicycling days are over.

Sam says he is a member of the Portland Velo Club. “I hope nobody from the club sees me,” he says. While the greenest way to get around is by bicycle, if that’s not an option, a scooter is the next best thing. Favicon

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5 Comments
  1. May 7, 2010 11:01 pm

    Wow, What great pictures!

    I found your site via Google Reader recently and I’ve had a great time reading it.

    I own a couple scooters myself including a 1997 Honda Elite 80 which was my first bike. These days I’m on my 1984 Yamaha Riva 180 or Atomic Fireball #96.

  2. May 10, 2010 10:20 am

    I’ve probably missed something, but it sounds like you are working, again? Then I saw somewhere else that you are moving to Bellingham. Things looing rosier these days?

  3. May 10, 2010 11:23 am

    Thank you for your visit on my blog. I do have the inevitable photos with the bridge @ Multnomah Falls 🙂 but although this one gives NO idea of the sheer height of the falls, I like it better!

    Funny… I know someone in Seattle who goes everywhere on a scooter… You wouldn’t, by any chance, know the same person?

  4. May 10, 2010 10:09 pm

    irondad, I’m working for the 2010 Census. It’s a temporary job. When it’s over, I’m moving to Bellingham. The house where I’ve been staying is going to be sold, and a small disability pension will go much further in the ‘Ham than in PDX.

    ciel, you are no doubt speaking of our friend Chuck. I’ve known him since I bought my first Vespa and went to my first Vespa Club of Seattle meeting in 2003. In fact, he was one of the first scooter people I met…

  5. Jack Riepe permalink
    May 15, 2010 8:07 am

    Dear Orin:

    My father was a tail-gunner on a B-17E. I believe this aircraft is a B-17G or an E. I was saddened to see that the tail-gunner’s position was removed. I have only seen one B-17 up close, and it is the last flying one of its kind maintained and flown by the Confederate Air Force.

    While the cost of restoring an aircfraft like this to flying status is staggering (as many of the replacement parts have to be built by hand), I hope some local group restores this one to the way it should look… And that will be expensive enough. If this restaurant was in my state, I’d go to eat there one day a week.

    Your Vespa looks great. I hope you have a good move.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

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