The Rudest Bridge

When i set out on this adventure it occurred to me that in the process of photographing Portland’s bridges i might well find one worthy of the title “The Rude Bridge That Arched the Flood“, but at the time i was thinking that the criterion i was looking for was that of ugliness.

Well, no.

But first, a little background.  The drive up I-5 to Portland was beautiful even though the grass on the freeway medians didn’t get green until i was almost in Portland owing to the drought we’re having out here.  Hard to imagine Oregon with brown grass.

But then i was in Portland and my little Garmin paid for itself splendidly by escorting me flawlessly to the University Place Hotel at 11:30 this morning.  It occurs to me that there will soon be a generation utterly incapable of reading a map since these navigational devices are so easy to use.

Check-in time is 3:00, but the guy at the desk was totally gracious about giving me a parking permit for their lot so i could Segway off photographing bridges for three hours.

Which i did, but there’s way too much material for tonight’s post, so this first foray (and the first two bridges) will remain undocumented for today.  I returned to the hotel to check in at 3:00 and had a bit of rest before i set out to photograph the Ross Island Bridge, which turned out to be a rather twitchy experience.

It’s a handsome bridge, as can be seen in this photo i took from the aerial tramway this morning (more on the tramway later), but what you don’t really see in this photo is that the the part over the water is only a fraction of the bridge since the approaches are so long.

Ross Island Bridge

 

The approaches extending far inland, making it rather tedious to find their beginnings, so you can imagine my disappointment when i finally rounded the curve on the sidewalk approaching the westbound entrance only to screech to a stop as it abruptly ended, leaving me the choice of joining the rush-hour traffic in the right-hand vehicle lane or turning back.

Which i did, and then was told by one of the legion of helpful locals that there was a sidewalk on only the north side of the bridge, so i went winding around some more and was feeling like i was on the right track until i saw this.

Ross Island Bridge pedestrian entrance

 

You talkin’ to me?   Naw, surely not.  So i pressed on.  And here’s what it was like for the mile or so across the bridge into the teeth of the eastbound traffic racing home at fifty MPH after a hard day at the office.  And that damn sidewalk felt like it was two feet wide and could not possibly have been more than four.  And the curb, which was all that was protecting me from the seething commuters, didn’t look like it was more than a couple of inches high although i damn sure wasn’t gonna stick my head into the traffic to look at it closely.

Death by Ross Island Bridge

 

One of the more white knuckle experiences i’ve had in a while, so i heaved a great sigh of relief when i reached the end and could pull off into a shady little park.

And realized that oh, i have to do it all over again to get back, and then discovered that while i was resting, a gusty little cross wind had picked up.  Just to help me fully appreciate the thrill of the ride.

But at least on the return trip i was comforted by knowing i wouldn’t die with the image of a car hurtling at me burned into my retinas.

Until about a tenth of the way back it struck me that they’d probably hit their brakes and i’d hear this hideous screech behind me before the lights went out.

So it was almost a disappointment that i made it back across what i sure do hope has already won the prize for the Rudest Bridge.

But stay tuned, as there are lots of bridges left.  And oh, even at this juncture i have a winner for the ugliest bridge.  It’s the Marquam Bridge, a massive two-level behemoth that squats across the Willamette carrying one of Portland’s two Interstate highways.  Here’s a chunk of it used as a frame for the gorgeous, and not yet open Tilikum Bridge.

Marquam Bridge framing Tilikum Bridge

 

 

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5 Comments

  1. ckm
    Posted 19 August 2014 at 04:24 | Permalink

    So tell me again about overcoming the fear long enough to take a picture of the Furries intent on your impending doom…

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 19 August 2014 at 06:37 | Permalink

      That photo does not do justice. In the first place, it was focused a bit too low, so it makes the sidewalk look wider than it was. The Segway took up two-thirds of it. What i should have done was take a video, but that camera doesn’t offer a video mode that would reveal how damn fast those cars were rushing at me. On the return trip i met six bicyclists, and for each i stopped the Segway and turned it sideways against the rail to give them more room to get by me. They all grinned and thanked me except for the one that was texting.

      • Mark Nicholas
        Posted 19 August 2014 at 14:31 | Permalink

        –you are kidding about the texting biker… I hope???

        Well you get a gold star for intrepid journalism Matte!! Reminds me of when I accidentally found myself on 280 riding my 150cc scooter. I don’t have photos of that. Trust me.

        • Matte Gray
          Posted 19 August 2014 at 16:38 | Permalink

          What is remembered as intrepidness is usually just scary at the time. That damn bridge sure was. Did the Sellwood Bridge this afternoon, and the sidewalk on that was even narrower. Not as scary, though, as the small amount of traffic was going much more slowly. Or maybe i’m just getting used to it…but not so blase that i text while riding. And no, to be totally honest, i don’t know that that biker was texting. He may have just been surfing the Internet, but he definitely had a small instrument in his hand that was occupying part of his attention.

          • Matte Gray
            Posted 27 August 2014 at 18:09 | Permalink

            Note to self: Get my guru to fix this display problem in the comments.

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