Rainy Night in Portland

Sunday evening a Google+ photo walk, organized by three local photographers, was held in Portland.   Aaron and I joined in the festivities though railroad photographs were not the primary focus of this walk.  The walkers were made up of a variety of photographers from around the area including some from north of Everett.   The walk started at Union Station and proceeded towards the river, the Eastbank Esplanade, and eventually the Hair of the Dog Brewery on the east side.  Hey, photographers of all sorts love beer, not just railfans!

Sunday the weather grew increasingly wetter and by the time the walk started around 4:30pm the rain was steady.  Despite the dampness quite a crowd showed up and impressed the organizers who thought many would not attended.  I had a couple of rail related images I wanted to capture and right out of the gate I set up for a couple of them.  As we moved along it grew dark and the wet streets started to reflect light from various street lights, headlights, signs, and buildings.  There was a lot of shiny goodness going on!

When I arrived at the Skidmore Fountain MAX stop I saw a wonderful photo brewing.  Street lights lit the area brightly and the reflections from the cobblestone textured streets were spectacular.  I set up my tripod and waited for a MAX train to arrive.  The result?  This colorful image of a westbound blue line train departing Skidmore Fountain.  As we walked we talked about how if any of us got 1 or 2 really good shots from the walk, we’d be happy.  After I saw this shot on the computer, I was happy.

If you are interested in other’s results from the walk you can view everyone’s contributed  images from the photowalk, including mine and Aaron’s here.

More MAX

I’ve ridden MAX more times in the past few months than since BC (before children).  Tammy and I frequently used MAX to get us into town before our children were born but for some reason we fell off that pattern.  Perhaps it was the quantity of extra garb we needed?  Now with the kids being teenagers it seems that we are back on the transit kick.

I’m happy about that since it is an easy way to travel.

This is a red line train to Beaverton Transit Center

Max To The Zoo

As the Oregon Zoo‘s popularity has grown its parking lot hasn’t kept pace.  The result is Tammy doesn’t like driving to the zoo so we end up riding Max.  That doesn’t bother me any as I always get a kick out of riding the trains in and around the city.  Add in some of the more interesting features like the Vanport bridge, Steel bridge, and the Robertson tunnel and a ride on Max can be quite entertaining.

Our ride took us to downtown on a Yellow Line train from the Vanport station to downtown.  At Pioneer Square we left the Yellow and walked a block to catch a Blue or Red Line train west to the Zoo.   As is normal Portland was full of Saturday visitors on their way to and from their activities.

For those of you that got a chuckle out of the shower cap from my Max trip in December, take a look at what 304 is sporting.  Yep, a shower cap!

On the Red/Blue Line, which leaves Portland westbound, the Washington Park station is quite the unique transit station.  It is one of the three deepest transit stations in the world and lives near the center of the 3.1 mile long Robertson Tunnel.  Getting to and from the zoo requires a ride in elevators which make up the 260 feet in a mere 25 seconds.  Speedy.  If you have time for only one short Max ride I recommend a ride out to the Washington Park station just to see this engineering feat.  Remember, don’t trespass!

Passengers await the arrival of an eastbound Blue Line train.  After several hours at the zoo we descended the elevators down to the station and joined a standing room only Blue Line train for our trip back downtown.  Once the train enters the tunnel a fresh breeze blows down the tunnel to let you know your train is only minutes away.  Oh, the reader board on the back wall of the station helps too!

TriMet is into art. According to their art page “The TriMet Public Art Program promotes transit use and community pride by integrating permanent and temporary art works into the public transit system—celebrating the contributions of public transportation and recognizing the cultural richness in our region.”  One of the more interesting pieces of art they installed were comets on the Vanport bridge.  These comets, I think, took what could be a pretty boring looking industrial object and made it so people take notice.  Whether you are passing by on N. Denver Avenue, I-5, or are riding the Yellow Line the comets get your attention and reminds you someone put a bit of thought into a run of the mill bridge.

Our Max ride over, we rejoined our automobile for the final few minutes back to our home in Vancouver.

Blazers, Max, and a Shower Cap

This post is somewhat the result of a challenge by Drew M. on Facebook and somewhat the result of the fact I have something to say about light rail…..

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a Portland Trailblazers game with some friends.  The good news is the Blazers won but it wasn’t pretty.  They, and fortunately the Warriors, started slow but picked it up to eventually lead by 13 and subsequently win by 1.

Portland’s Rose Garden has several transportation options for getting to and from it.  Of course you can drive your car and park in the Rose Quarter garage or one of the surrounding lots.   Transit wise you can take a bus, or take ANY of the four major Max light rail lines.   For this game Tammy and I felt like riding Max would take a bit of the work out of getting in and out.

The trip to the Rose Quarter for dinner and the game was uneventful.  We hopped on the Yellow line at the Vanport station and arrived 20 minutes later at the Rose Quarter transit center.   Easy.   After the game we expected a crowd at the Rose Quarter station and we weren’t disappointed.

In typical transit fashion though this crowd was easily digested by the next arriving train and we were on our way north to Vanport.  Along the way we continued to pass strings of cars stopped in queue as they were departing the various parking venues around the arena.  There’s a bit of thrill whipping past stopped cars at 30 mph knowing that I don’t have to be stuck in the jam.

The transit expenses for the day were $9.50 vs. $15+fuel+vehicle wear and tear.  Best of all Tammy and I didn’t have to drive in post game traffic!   Access to the Rose Garden was quick and simple and the experience of this ride was wonderful except for one thing…

The title of this post includes mention of a shower cap.  As our type III max car pulled into the Rose Quarter station I noticed it had a shower cap over the front coupler.   Wow, really?  Yep, really.  Ever since the type I cars were delivered in the 80s the couplers have been finicky when wet or covered with snow and ice.  This is probably no surprise as the coupler not only contains the mechanical connection between the cars of a train but also a method for transmitting power, braking, and communications between the cars.  It also sticks out in the front of the vehicle where it can collect all the elements.  Apparently the shower cap is enough to keep things dry enough and functioning normally.  Seemingly this is a simple (read cost effective) solution to a complex (and likely expensive) problem.

So what was wrong with our Max experience?  It’s pretty simple actually, Max doesn’t go all the way to Vancouver and so we had to get off a mile and a half south of the border.  The proposal for the new Columbia River crossing includes a light rail component but there is opposition to it.  The opposition claims the  increased crime and tax burden are something they don’t want in Vancouver and Clark County.  I think that viewpoint is short sighted.   There are so many advantages (which would form a whole host of posts) of high capacity transit like light rail that I think we need it to move into Clark County…shower cap and all.