Jan 31, 2009
A Hillsboro train basks in the sun at the Cleveland Ave terminal around 15h30 today, just before the clouds rolled back in and it started to half-heartedly drizzle for the rest of my trip back home.
Jan 30, 2009
Mavis & Dust Mite gaze benevolently down upon the rest of the world from their bookshelf-top perch.
When I was rambling around the more urban parts of Clackamas County this afternoon, I heard an Amtrak train whistling in the vicinity of Oregon City. So I sprinted (by my moderate definition; on cold days, it takes me a long time to warm up and I had not warmed up, so my “sprint” was more on the order of a 30kph stroll) over to the vicinity of the the Oregon City station to see if I could catch the train.
No luck. When I got there the signal south of the station was still lit red, but it turned itself off within a minute of me stopping and unwrapping the Pentax. But the station itself is kind of interesting from the track, and the extent of the persistant fogginess is pretty obvious here (it was supposed to defog by noon, but there was still fog at 15h30 in Oregon City, and there was still still fog in Happy Valley! at 16h30 when I was rolling up Sunnyside back towards home. I’m tired of the fog. It’s damp, and it’s cold, and, aside from traction issues, I’d rather ride my bicycle in the snow.)
Once again, I hope it’s less damp-n-cold-n-foggy tomorrow. I crave doughnuts, but I don’t want to ride out to get them, only to arrive home with a dozen sodden sugarsicles in tow (and it wouldn’t take that much to push the loop up over 100k, so I’d like to return via OR211 and the outbound leg of today’s trip – a 50km return isn’t that much longer than a 40km return, and non-sodden doughnuts wouldn’t care that they needed to sit another 30 minutes before being eaten up like little pancakes.)
Jan 29, 2009
My plan was to go out on the line early this morning and ride a fairly long loop. But it was cold and foggy, so I was unable to push myself out the door until around 11:30 (when it was still foggy, but I couldn’t delay any longer if I wanted to get any sort of kilometerage before the 14:15 bear pickup at Llewellyn.)
This plan came to a screeching halt when I reached the Springwater Trail bridge over the Yellow Menace mainline and saw a Yellow Menace freight waiting for a red signal.
Oh well, I suppose I can always do a long ride tomorrow. Maybe it will be sunny then?
Jan 28, 2009
A student-constructed mosaic graces the lintel over one of Llewellyn School’s doors.
Jan 27, 2009
I believe that by now I’ve ridden my bicycle in the snow more times here in Portland than I ever did in Wisconsin or Illinois. And I’ve only been riding it in the winter here this year.
This is the 17th day (or partial day; the warm front that was pushing this snow ahead of it has arrived and all of the snow that fell this morning has now turned to water and is in the process of flowing into the Willamette River) of snow this winter? That’s a lot of snow days for a city that doesn’t traditionally have that much snow.
Jan 26, 2009
An (ex-)fire station building in the Edgefield complex in Troutdale.
Jan 25, 2009
Two Yellow Menace engines stopped between Tacoma St and the Springwater Trail, waiting for the line south to clear (which it did about 15 seconds after I took this picture.)
This is, what, the 16th day with snow on the ground this
Jan 24, 2009
As the economy continues to spiral into the ground (despite the now multi-trillion bipartisan check-writing spree to the parasites on Wall Street. Amazing how that works) the Yellow Menace finds itself having to park large numbers of unused engines on the now much quieter side tracks of Brooklyn Yard.
A cold day, a cold tree, and the cold rays of the sun.
Jan 23, 2009
Over the last couple of long rides, my bicycle seat (an ancient Brooks Team Professional saddle that I got cheaply (US$30) on ebay) has been riding in a sort of funny fashion. I was guessing that I was simply coming down sick, because it wasn’t just my bottom that’s been feeling achy, but this might not be the case. Why? Because today, when I was doing one of my irregular bike cleanups (including dumping preservative into the saddle) I discovered, to my intense dismay, that the leather at the front of the saddle has developed a rip which has worked its way almost all the way up to one of the side front rivets in the thing.
Well, damn, that’s annoying. I didn’t really expect that this saddle would last forever, but it’s only been about 1000 miles since I put it onto the bicycle, and now I’ve got to punch some unsightly holes in the nose so I can suture the tear back together before it runs wild and rips the saddle in half. And, yes, I’m going to need to replace it with another Brooks saddle (and then spend two months in mortal combat with that saddle before it breaks in) because this Brooks saddle is comfy, even when I’m riding in jeans, and I’m not willing to play saddle roulette with the only bicycle I’ve got.
At least I’ve got a large pile of leather scraps that I can cut laces from. They aren’t rawhide, but if I soak the laces in water they should snuggle up nice and tightly when they dry, and that should be enough to hold the tear closed until I finish hawking enough stuff on ebay to get a replacement.
(Goodbye, Eye-Fi card! Your sacrifice will not be in vain!)
Dust Mite curates an exhibition of representational art, featuring work by Silas Wright and other artists.
Jan 22, 2009
GingerMite cookies are always appropriate for the season.
Jan 21, 2009
The Portland Traction bridge over the Clackamas River, 40-odd years after the last train went by.
Jan 20, 2009
Today, unlike the last time around, I didn’t manage to quite reach the
SPYellow Menace crossing quite in time to get a good picture of the sled at the front end of the northbound 11:15 Cascades. I blame the headwinds, which were most impressive on the Springwater Trail embankment over Johnson Creek, 99e, and the Yellow Menace mainline.
This rooster lives along the Springwater Trail, out around 82nd Ave, and I see him every now and then when I’m looping out to Gresham. Normally I don’t stop, because 82nd avenue is about the place where my legs give up complaining and just pedal, but this was a good day to stop fighting headwinds and use up a bunch of film taking pictures of this (undaunted by the weather) splendid bird.
Jan 19, 2009
A mallard duck stands on the wall outside of the Milwaukie Sheri’s restaurant. The glowy red eye is simply an artifact of the built-in flash unit on my Pentax, and does not signify any supernatural origin.
Jan 18, 2009
The winds from the gorge welcome me to Gresham in the traditional way – by dropping 15 meters of tree across the Springwater trail. There were some other trees down, but they’d obligingly fallen beside the trail instead of on it.
Some of the local evergreens are not dealing well with these sustained high winds, either; there are places where the streets are strewn with branches, like what you’d find if some giant’s cleaning service had picked the trees up and shaken them vigorously to knock the dust out.
Jan 17, 2009
The Schnitzer’s big neon sign is partially eclipsed by a city street sign.
Jan 16, 2009
A pair of Yellow Menace engines wait for permission to pull a rail train south into Clackamas County at 10:23 this morning (I didn’t stick around for very long, so I didn’t see what was blocking the Milwaukie section. It may have been a northbound Cascades, but from the whistling I heard when I was out around i205 I think it was just a northbound freight. In any case, there was no railtrain to be seen when I returned to this spot after running out to Lents Junction and back.)
(50mm Super Tak, ISO 200, f8 @ 1/250th second)
Jan 15, 2009
A dozen donuts, packed and ready for the 26 mile trip back to Westmoreland.
Jan 14, 2009
As a bicyclist, I’m a fairly sluggish one. I don’t accelerate sharply away from stops (and I do either stop or slow down to less-than-walking speed when I reach a stop,) I almost never push my speed, and you’ll never actually see me stand out of the saddle and pedal as if I was pretending to be a bicycle racer.
Unless there’s a train involved.
When I went out for donuts today, I was stopped waiting for the light at 17th and Tacoma when I heard an Amtrak engine blowing for the crossings in Milwaukie. I knew the train wasn’t coming from the north (unless it was really late) so that meant if I could make it down to where the Springwater Trail crosses over the
SPYellow Menace fast enough, I’d be able to see the train.
And it turns out that if I push the bicycle up to the 104" gear, then stand up and pedal as if I was trying to outrun a nuclear explosion, I can actually not just meet the train but get there early enough to park the bicycle, pull the Pentax out of the saddlebag, and get pictures of the thing.
And I didn’t even snap the bicycle in half, though it was making some really interesting creaky noises when I was pushing it up to veryfastindeed speed.
Mount Hood, as seen from the side of the road in Sandy Oregon. It was quite hazy, and I forgot to bring the polarizing filter, so it’s not quite as *there* as it is in real life.
Jan 13, 2009
Silas sneaks up on a bowl of ice cream.
Jan 12, 2009
Two forms of mass transit cross the Steel Bridge while peds and cyclists watch from the lower-level pedestrian walkway.
Jan 11, 2009
A pair of Yellow Menace engines pull a train north towards the Columbia River bridge. It’s not actually as late as it looks – this picture was taken at ~11am, but I’d pushed the exposure time way down to avoid getting the image blasted by the sunlight you would have seen if I’d chosen about a dozen pictures ago. But this way you get to avoid seeing the boring yellow paint scheme that the Yellow Menace uses for everything except their “look, we’re using this old paint scheme so we can get royalties from model railroad manufacturers!” so-called “Heritage” units.
Jan 10, 2009
The bicycle on the last trip with the less-than-satisfactory Bontrager hardcase tires (since replaced by a pair of 28mm Vittoria Randonneur tires, which just barely fit into the 35mm fender wells,) when I paused at the brickyard on the east side of Gresham to try to figure out why the chain was beginning to go squeaky-squeaky on me.
The squeaky-squeaky was (temporarily) subdued by a liberal application of teflon chain lube, and the old tires are tucked away in a corner, waiting for me to find some use for a pair of gashed-up 25mm tires. And, look, you can’t really see just how filthy the pink handlebar tape is getting after a mere 1000km or so (every time I changed a flat on the old tires I came away with black chain and tire dust all over my hands, which cheerfully transferred itself onto the formerly bright pink tape. Sigh. When I replace the handlebars (the lhs horn is twisted in just a tiny bit from the right hook accident on Oahu 15 years back, and it might be nice to have a symmetric tiller once again) I’ll probably go for fashionably dirt-hiding black tape (with sparkly tassels on the ends of the handlebars, perhaps? That might be overkill, given that I appear to be the only person in Portland who’s married a Free Radical to a touring bicycle)) or how much mud has gotten caked inside the fenders during some of the wetter trips I’ve taken out on the line.
The funny thing was that this trip, even though it was quite cold, didn’t seem to be nearly as effing cold as the loop I took today, which was allegedly warmer, but which was really damp and felt really really cold, even though I was working hard enough to leave a trail of sweat all the way out and back.
Jan 09, 2009
There’s a new Jedi®©™ in town, so you separatists had better watch your step.
Jan 08, 2009
A Yellow Menace GP38-2 switches just south of the Dow Corning glass factory at ~92nd and Columbia Blvd.
Jan 07, 2009
Mavis, silhouetted in the dim light from the front hall.
Jan 06, 2009
The Portland Traction SW-1 crosses 17th Ave on its way downtown today. After a long time out of use, the working Eng! appears to have become the regular locomotive on Portland Traction again; perhaps it doesn’t suck down diesel fuel at the same rate as the newer SW-1500 does?
(Pentax *istDS, 50mm Super-Tak, f8 @ 1/90th sec)
Jan 05, 2009
If I leave too late in the day, I end up having to race the sun home. I usually lose, but sometimes the view makes up for it.
Jan 04, 2009
Don’t mind me, I’ll just be over in the corner, laughing maniacally to myself.
Ever feel like you’re being watched?
I went out for a short loop this morning, and, because snow and rain is predicted, I took precautions by stuffing a spare pair of glove and my showers pass raincoat into the panniers on the bike (as well as my usual purse+camera, bag of cookie bars, and two spare inner tubes just in case the rear tire decided to say “hello!” to a nail or piece of glass) When I got back, I still had the gloves, I still had the inner tubes, I still had purse+camera, and I still had the cookie bars. But no raincoat. Somewhere out there (most likely when plunging down a steep hill on Foster Road) the wind snuck its way into the panniers, chose something with good resale value, then blew the raincoat – and only the raincoat – out through the back of the pannier never to be seen again.
And it’s supposed to rain (or, I suspect, snow) all week, and I’ve got no other raincoats except one that’s currently unzippered and waiting for me to get down to the Mill End Store to buy a new zipper for it. Which I’ll have to do in the rain (or snow) without a raincoat.
I wasn’t completely pleased with the design of the panniers that came with the Free Radical kit I bought (when empty, they tend to flap, and when I work around that by clipping them together over the top of the wooden skateboard thingie on the top, they slither backwards and trail straps uncomfortably close to the rear wheel) before this, and this doesn’t really make me any happier about them.
I suppose I could alway discard the wooden skateboard thingie and replace it with an aluminum rack with tiedowns or clips to hold the pannier straps in place, and then I could clip the empty (or nearly empty; when I’m rambling around Portland, the purse+spare clothes+fud load is close enough to nothing so that I can snug the panniers up so they won’t flap) panniers together and have them stay in place instead of wiggling around so they can shed articles of clothing I can’t afford to replace.
Damnit. I hope that some gleaner finds the windbreaker and it doesn’t end up being yet another piece of trash blowing around suburban Portland.
Jan 03, 2009
Leo is helpfully warming the placemats and napkins after we left the linen drawer open.
Jan 02, 2009
When I woke up this morning, it was so bright and sunny that I could almost forget the horrible weather that made yesterday so much fun. So, after pumping out the basement, I draped myself with several layers of wool (and cotton) and dragged the Trek out for quick run out to Gresham and back.
The “quick” part of the trip managed to somehow get lost, most likely because of a combination of the wrong kind of snow on the line (just enough ice under the newfallen snow to make the bicycle feel like riding an intoxicated snail, so down I went to 52:24 and a much more leisurely 12kph,) yet another flat thanks to the rapidly disintegrating Bontrager Race Lite tires I purchased a mere 1200km ago, and the appearance of a new seasonal lake in east Portland (which required a few detours to ride around):
The Springwater trail goes underwater at Lents Junction
And so does Foster Rd
And this gentle stream is the reason why
The flooding was pretty amazing, though after a while the pictures of the raging torrent that used to be Johnson Creek get somewhat repetitive (I was carrying my 50mm Super-Tak lens, so the telephoto view looks pretty much the same from Sellwood over to Gresham.) You’ll have to take my word (and the NWS weather emergency warnings, and the various states of emergency that were declared over the northern end of the Willamette valley last night and this morning) that there was a lot of excess water trying to get down to the Pacific Ocean today.
The savage Dust Mite leaps upon its prey!
The working Eng! basks in the sun, watching last night’s snowfall melt away and run off into (the enthusiastically flood-stage) Johnson Creek
After spending a couple of hours frantically moving things around the basement to get them out of the way of the incoming floodwaters, I came upstairs and realized that it had gotten very quiet. “Hey!” said I, “maybe it’s stopped raining? Let me peek out the front door and see…”
Oh, fuck me gently with a chainsaw.
I think this means that we’ve had snow falling and sticking to the ground for 15 of the last 21 days?
Jan 01, 2009
The house rings in the new year in the traditional fashion by having (a) the sewers clog up and (b) welcoming a torrent of water into the basement for our cleaning enjoyment.
If a GIANT METEOR destroys our house and the house insurance includes GIANT METEOR coverage, the new house will not have a basement at all. It’s theoretically nice to have a nice insulated-by-clay part of the house, but the exchange for this is that we end up having a thick leaky concrete hull with all of the sewer pipes conveniently stowed on the wrong side of it.
The new house will have a pipe corridor with a hatchway, and then if something goes wrong down there the pipes will be on the same side of the concrete as the pipe repair (I could, of course, do this to the existing house, but that means I’d have to find 150 cubic yards of fill to backfill the existing basement plus replacement of a couple of century-old wooden pilings with something that wouldn’t rot immediately and end up collapsing the house into the pipe corridors. No, the prudent solution is to wait for the GIANT METEOR to come hurling down from on high.)
UPDATE: It’s 1:15am on Friday now, and no GIANT METEORS are in sight. Which is bad, because enough rain has been dumped onto our property so that water is starting to come up through cracks in the basement floor. And if we get more than 4 inches of water in the basement, it reaches the UPS and then *pfffft* no more network (and most likely no more computers, either. Ick.) And the NWS is saying it might *snow* tomorrow.
I guess I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.