TITLE: A First Run in Portland AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 03, 2005 6:52 PM DESC: A new sort of drawbridge and an interesting warning sign made my first run in Portland more than routine. ----- BODY: For many, many years, my hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, was the largest city in the United States not located on a navigable waterway. (Phoenix has that distinction now, and some other cities in the Sun Belt have probably passed Indianapolis by now, too.) My family didn't travel much when I was growing up, so I have relatively exposure to life on the water. This accounts for some of my enjoyment of water when I run at conferences. Running in Vancouver is still among my favorites. I'm in Portland today for the OOPSLA 2006 fall planning meeting. This is my first trip to Portland, and naturally the first thing I did this morning was to hit the road for a pre-dawn run. 5:00 AM here is 7:00 AM on my body's clock, so that was easier than it sounds. Portland is defined in large part by its water source, the Willamette River, which divides the town northeast and southwest. With just one day in town, I kept my route simple, running from my hotel on the northeast side of the river to a 3-mile loop up and down a riverwalk in the downtown area. It was a nice mix of scenic riverwalk and the sort of gritty area that I seem to experience in water towns. I had a couple of fun new experiences this morning...
I've seen drawbridges before, and even driven over a cool little manual drawbridge on Cape Code. But this may have been the first time I've run over one -- and I ran over two. The first was an auto bridge of the traditional sort:
But imagine my surprise when I began my second lap across the river, where the pedestrian walk parallels a railroad track, and ran into a closed gate that had not been there on my first pass... and the bridge was just gone! Well, it wasn't gone so much as 30 feet in the air:
I was so caught up in marveling at this feat of technology that I didn't notice how cool I became as I waited for the bridge to come back down. Standing still in 35-degree rainy weather during a run can be that way...
It didn't rain while I ran, but it had rained through the night. That, and the Pacific Northwest's reputation for rain, rain, rain, made one warning sign I encountered all the more humorous:
Warning! Sewage Avoid contact with river after rain
Hasn't it always just rained in Portland?