A Secret Bridge

Just wobbled back to the hotel after a generous draft Oregon IPA and the best yellow Thai curry i can recall ever eating.  If you’re in Portland and want Thai food, eat at Baan Thai, just off the corner of College at 1924 SW Broadway.  Delicious food and large portions, but when they ask you how spicy you want your order, whatever you do, don’t say “Hot”.  Yesterday they asked me how how i wanted my larb chicken, and i said, “Oh, medium.”  OMG, it was absolutely fiery, but it was so delicious that i couldn’t stop eating in spite of the pain.  If i’d asked for Hot, i’d have been flopping around on the floor screaming for an ambulance.

Tonight there’ll be just one highlight from today’s photographic adventures during which i bagged the last remaining bridges here.  Well, sort of.  The two Interstate bridges over the Columbia were 1) so totally utilitarian that only their mothers could see much beauty in them and 2) were so situated that even though i drove east along the south bank of the Columbia and saw both bridges, i could find no vantage from which either might be well photographed, which made me almost happy they were so drab.

The good news, though, is that by taking the Segway in the back of the Prius i was able to park close enough to Segway around and get good photos of the St. John’s Bridge from the west bank of the Willamette, from underneath the west end of it, and during the ride over to the east end and back.

For example

St. John's Bridge


Or this


St. John's Bridge



So yes, the St. John’s Bridge justly deserves the multiple recommendations it has got from several locals i talked to, but it wasn’t the high point of today’s excursion.  Oh no.

When i was down on the west bank photographing it i happened to look back south down the river and spotted a bridge that i’d not read about in any of my research on Portland’s bridges.  Nor was it indicated on any of my maps.  Nor does it even have a popular name, at least not one known by either of the guys i talked to while i was photographing it, one of ’em an old fart who mentioned remembering it being built when he was a youngster.  No, they both said the only name the locals used was “the railroad bridge” because it’s exclusively for the railroad and has no other purpose.

But it gets even better, when i first looked at it, i exclaimed “It’s open!”  And it was.




And then it started closing

Railroad bridge over the Willamette


And here’s the whole thing taken from atop the St. John’s Bridge a few minutes later after it had fully closed.

Railroad bridge over the Willamette


And finally, i don’t want to spoil the surprise and give too much away, but tomorrow i’m doing a day trip up to Mt. St. Helens, hoping to get as close as possible to the spot where Robert Landsburg died, take a few photos, and leave a little memorial in an old film canister on the ground there.

If i get really really lucky, the volcano will choose that moment to go off again, and i’m mentioning this to get my readers to demand an autopsy when my body is found.  I no longer use a camera with film in it, so i won’t be able to emulate Landsburg in the minute or so remaining in my life by rewinding the film into the canister, leaving the canister in the camera, sticking the camera in my backpack, and lying down on top of the backpack.

Instead, what i’ll have to do is remove the memory chip from my camera and stuff it in my mouth while i wait for the blast to hit me.  Actually, if my body is found with my pants down, this will not mean that in my last moments of life i invented a new perversion, thinking i could seek some satisfaction while being buried alive in blazing volcanic ejecta, but rather that i realized there would be somewhere even safer than my mouth, and stuffed the chip there.  So ask ’em to look.

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  1. Rick
    Posted 23 August 2014 at 13:28 | Permalink

    Louis, have read all the recent posts. Wanted to comment on a few of them, but haven’t–until now. This one was too good to let go without saying SOMETHING. Your last paragraph was hilarious… thanks for sharing your trip with us. Loved the photos and the commentary.

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 24 August 2014 at 08:09 | Permalink

      The recent posts were quite superficial and i’m planning a photo essay/narrative on the Portland Bridges as a separate menu item since i have hundreds of photos and managed to photograph all of Portland’s bridges except for a new bridge over the Columbia that was utterly drab and uninteresting. I also managed to ride the Segway over all the bridges with a bike lane/sidewalk.

  2. Mark
    Posted 26 August 2014 at 18:27 | Permalink

    While I can empathize with your disappointment at not having a perfect moment that included an eruption of magnitude, I’m very glad you made it out to record this tale and leave such an amazing memorial behind. Can’t wait to hear more about this trip in person. The photos are top notch!

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 26 August 2014 at 18:40 | Permalink

      Well, we can’t have everything:-). And those posts just scratched the surface. It was a very fruitful trip, and i’m hoping to write it up as a separate menu entry with some detailed information about the bridges along with lots of photos. Stay tuned, but right now i’m still recovering from the exhaustion of the trip.

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