…Smooth Riding #75, Melting Pot Americans, and Bumpin’ Gresham. Read all about it! Read all about it!
I’ve been digging through tons of history on streetcars, specifically Portland’s, light rail, ridership numbers, and more. To put some of this mess together I figured I would head out to my thinking place. If you’ve read my past entries, you know that is pretty much any transit vehicle to somewhere. Something about traveling and thinking, working and seeing, all this while the world goes by just makes things that much more.
#9, Yup, The Number Nine, Bus Number Nine That Is…
With that I was out the door and bound for some random adventures. First I jumped the #9 east bound. When I boarded the bus it was an intriguing smell of pot, lots and lots of pot heads on the bus. I honestly don’t think I had seen such a concentration of pot heads on the bus ever. There must have been 14 people all in the rear of the bus, reeking of pot. Not that this bothered me, I find the smell much more pleasant than a rank nasty cigarette any day.
At 36th, or maybe it was 37th, the pot cloud floated off the bus, along with a few others. The entire slew of hot young ladies that happened to be on the bus then got off just past 39th. At that point the bus had gone from all seats filled and standing room only, to only about 15 people left on the bus. This however, is what usually happens on the #9 during non-commuting hours. Then around 82nd we bulked our rider count right back up to about 30+. This bus, needless to say, is a high rider count, efficient, timely, well scheduled, rocking bus route.
The #9 Melting Pot. If there was ever a bus route that really showed America at it’s finest, the #9 is definitely that route. With Spanish, Mexicans, Portuguese, German, African Americans, Africans, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, French, and even some Indians and American Indians riding at any particular time one can really get a cross section view of this nation’s people. For most white people its probably scary, since so many still don’t know squat about the other 50% or so of our population, but I find it rather endearing. At any particular time I’ve seen someone from the nationalities or continents I mentioned, and I’ve talked to more than half of them. When it comes down to it, all of these immigrants are the only thing that keep this country together. In all honesty the 3rd and 4th generation Americans have really gone to crap for discipline, seeking opportunity, and other positive traits.
At 98th & Powell the ride ended, I had not checked and ended up on a bus that only went that far, my intention was to go all the way to Gresham. Oh well, I jumped off and took a good view in of the Powell Street Garage. A rather large place, with a pleasant enough and plain entrance. I walked out front to the bus stop, and checked the bus time. 9 minutes, I pulled the laptop out and finished up a paragraph and a unit test for the application I’m building.
The sun was blinding in the west, which was making it impossible to see down Powell for the approaching bus. With the laptop out I got a little paranoid I’d miss it, especially with a bus coming into Powell Garage ever minute or so. I stowed the laptop away again and prepared for the bus’s imminent arrival.
Leg two of the trip started on a bus that was packed full. We had at least 2 standees already, however I immediately was able to catch a spot in the back of the bus. I plopped myself in that corner and started hacking away.
The driver was on the horn calling in a missing something another. She had a friendly repertoire with the lady missing the item and continued driving. As we rode past the skate park I couldn’t help but notice about 50+ kids out riding, skating, and generally shredding the park. To me that’s awesome, as I spent most of my youth and am again working toward riding some vert & at least street again. If you aren’t aware of what vert or “street” is kit Google for some searches on BMX, Freestyle, and Bicycles. You’ll be able to dig up some cool stuff. Same for Youtube, there are a ton of videos of people ripping it up with tricks and such.
We rolled through 122nd and there where still more people out on BMX & Freestyle bikes. I’m not talking about the piddly kids bikes you pick up at Wally World, I’m talking about reinforced, niche bikes that are built like tanks. Seriously, you could drive into one of these bikes long ways with a Hummer, and the Hummer would probably be the worse for it.
The driver made good time, as it is with the #9 this far out in the east side burbs’. We rolled through some of the apartment complexes and picked up a few dozen and dropped off a few dozen riders.
I can’t help but feel the Bell Curve hitting hard in this part of Portland. Which of course is evident at every turn. Less educated, less income, simpler lives. No problem with that, just observing. It is an interesting phenomena among humanity that this curve, no matter what political system, no matter what period of history, no matter of slavery or barbarians, no matter of wealth redistribution or pure capitalistic behavior, nothing saves the poorer. They are always there, as timeless as humanity itself.
174th approached and the rider count dropped to 10 people. This last stretch is probably the least efficient, yet simplest part of the route. With what amounts to an almost straight shot down a 4 lane highway, the speed increases significantly. There are limited lights and limited turnouts along this part of the route, thoroughly planted in the middle of suburbia, and I suppose somewhere the Urban Growth Boundary.
Downtown Gresham is completely different than most parts of the area. It’s classy, Small Town America. It draws a stark contrast to the area surrounding. With quaint shops lining the main street through downtown, leading toward Gresham Transit Center. Immediately at Gresham Transit Center the town goes to crap. Then there is a fairly decent open air strip mall and a few other little parts, and then it falls right back into crap again. The City of Gresham, really is bipolar.
Bipolar-ness aside, the old town in Gresham is pretty sweet. There are numerous places to eat, have a beer, or stop for a coffee.
Upon arriving I actually dropped into the coffee joint, Cafe Delirium. My barista who kindly gave me permission to publish her photo I snagged (to the left), made me up a solid cappuccino. The shop closes at 9:00pm, and with only 12 minutes to go, I decided to move along. Even at 8:46pm on a Saturday they had about a half dozen people chilling at the shop. Probably could push those hours out to 10:00pm and still do decent business, but then again,
I don’t know Gresham so maybe not.
While walking through the strip of old town I walked by this shop called Gnomshop, which is a skater shop for kids. They had a half pipe inside the shop! Shredding the pipe was about 6 little kids, it was awesome! I was very envious I didn’t have something as cool to shred when I was young. We where lucky to have dirt hills to jump back in Mississippi, brutal that was.
A few other shots of Old Town Gresham for your viewing pleasure. Wildwood Cafe has a great menu & good prices, looks like a worthy return trip to grab a bite there sometime.
After my stroll through old town I boarded the MAX Blue Line at Gresham City Hall. Within 20 seconds there was the prospect of domestic violence between some immature, ignorant ghetto kid and a girl with her kid. It was simply, classic Gresham reputation. I couldn’t have asked for that to happen for the stereotypes to come pouring into my brain. But whatever, adventure I was after and that was a slight dose of such. Of course, not really very entertaining, knowing if he got physical I’d probably… anyway, back to the journey.
The train made a clean run toward each stop, boarding people at each stop, quickly exceeding the rider count on the #9 on the way toward Portland. By 122nd Avenue we had at least 20+ people in this car, which probably gave us about 20ish in the trailing LRV.
the sun set in the western skyline, leaving a beautiful purple, red, orange ,and whitish blue sky for us passengers to watch as the train cruised progressively toward downtown. After the initial idiocy of an almost domestic disturbance, the MAX fell almost silent except for the hum of the traction motors and the headphones playing ever so slightly.
By the time we pulled into Gateway TC we almost had no sun on the horizon. I pondered transferring and making a run out to the airport, but decided against it as we pulled into the transit center. I went back to a bit of coding, giving a slight glance to do an estimate of ridership.
At Hollywood I jumped off and decided I would make a go at transferring to the next #75 south bound. I had checked via Transit Tracker on the IPhone and looked like I’d have a tolerable 2-3 minute transfer. I had thought I’d go downtown and hit up Backspace, but I was intent on getting a bit more code written, and for that I needed faster Internet access. For that, homeward bound I needed to head.
The #75 arrived precisely in that 2-3 minute GPS estimate I received via Transit Tracker. Without a skip the bus, with about a dozen of us TriMet Rider’s we were off to the south on 39th Avenue. This part of my trip was over in what seemed to be the blink of an eye. I deboarded (is that a word?) at 39th and Powell and grabbed a few bits of grub for dinner at the Safeway. Back out to the street for the #9 for that final stretch home.
With Chicken Salad in hand, a Red Bull for a hacker boost (still got more code to write), I managed in to get aboard the next #9 rolling all within 9 minutes of stepping off the #75. Good transfer if you ask me. 🙂
Good run, interesting adventure, and as always a strange and realistic peak into the real America.