Friday, December 21, 2012

Hillsboro, OR: take the trip from PDX

I’ve lived in Portland, OR, two years this December, and have wanted to take the MAX out Hillsboro, OR, (just for the ride, see what’s out there). With a friend, finally went today and glad I did.

Hillsboro, OR is not that far from Portland, (one might get that impression looking at the rail map). The part around Hillsboro Central / SE 3rd TC and the last stop, Hatfield Government Center, clean, but didn’t look like much; the interesting strip to walk is E Main Street, SE 2nd to 7th Streets.

If you love tea and spices, and the potential health benefits of them, there’s a Great priced little shop with a friendly, knowledgeable couple, called Herbs & Tea –

If you have a day off, bored, want something cheap to do, I’d suggest taking the MAX Blue line out to Hillsboro, OR; walk around the area. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sandy Boulevard... Where do ya start?

Sandy Blvd.... so many things can and have been said about this road, cutting across Northeast Portland, OR.

It wasn't easy, for me, to find it's full history all in one website, but some good information about Sandy Blvd. embedded in another story, (more about one of its dangerous intersections).
"Sandy Boulevard is by far one of Portland's oldest transportation landmarks. It was once Portland's only road east from the Willamette River to the Sandy River, which is where it got its name." [from the KATU link above].
That explains (to me) the diagonal route of Sandy Blvd., and I wonder how many thought this road was ripped through Northeast Portland after the grid was established. Whatever you feel about Sandy Blvd., it here, ya learn to live with it, and the weird little cut out triangles, formed bu the grid system that chose to not follow suit.

I cringe when spotting bicyclists on Sandy Blvd. Some bicyclist take the extra wide road as its diagonal path as a good enough excuse to bicycle on it. Have had my guilty moments of bicycling on Sandy Blvd., hey, its a nice diagonal, but  try and keep myself on the roads with bike lanes. One Really has to keep their eyes moving like a chameleon on Sandy, because cars swing on and off this thing with ease, and sometimes anger, frustration and conviction, having to deal with the awkwardness of it.

Even tho I'm a bicyclist, I would decline seeing a bike lane on Sandy Blvd, Unless it could be done safely. Sandy Blvd. is like a calculus equation, with too many damn variable and functions to deal with.
    A streetcar back on Sandy Blvd., between downtown and Hollywood District, yea! :). That would spur some dense development there, (probably piss off more motorist and bicyclist tho, meh, Deal with it!). I want to see Portland Streetcar develop around Canter City and close areas; Trimet bus and MAX start to become express through the inner areas, but that's for another blog.

    Sometimes wish there was an opposite diagonal road, between MLK/Prescott and Burnside/I-205; maybe a tunnel, to avoid those crazy triangles along Sandy Blvd. It's nice to cut across the city, which Sandy Blvd. allows many to do.

    Time will tell the future of Sandy Blvd. Love it, hate it, whatever... makes for some good sunset pictures tho :)

    Took this picture one fall afternoon, Sandy Blvd., at 41st Ave.

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Smartphone eTicket & Amtrak

    7:46am: Out of breathe, having speed walked to Hollywood MAX Station. On the platform, sign says, "Green Line - Center City - 3min.", and hoping that time is correct. It's my 1st time using a smartphone eTicket for the train.

    Will it work? Should I have gotten a paper printout? Will this be the one time the conductor Doesn't have a working machine to check my ticket? Seen these issues happen many times traveling through the airport. "Think too damn much," my though as the train crosses the Steel Bridge, 7:59a, but calmed down, knowing I'd make the 8:30 train to Olympia, WA.

    Got to Union Station, walk up to the conductor, phone in hand as I say Good Morning. Pleasant guy, scans my smartphone, assigns me a seat, no issue. All that excitement, wondering, and the thing was simple as ever.

    This was also my first time on Amtrak Cascades. Train seats were clean, comfortable. the travel time between Portland Union Station and Vancouver, Wa was surprisingly fast. Vancouver, Washington Station has a few issues, least in my mind.

    For the Ton a people that got on the northbound Cascades train, early Saturday morning, it makes no sense, to me, there's no C-Tran bus service to/from the Vancouver, Wa. Amtrak Station. Reasoning given: there was to/from the station, but it got cancelled due to delays the bus had with freight trains crossing. My answer, "fly overs are in airports like a bowl a spagetti; what, they can't do one here?" I could write a whole other blog about transit in Vancouver, Wa, but another time; back to inside Amtrak Cascades.

    Amtrak Cascades is a nice line, could definitely use a few more trains (given its crowds and growing usage), and AmtrakConnect (it's wifi service), needs help too. Heard complaints about this before, but experienced the signal cutting out for myself. Hard to even keep my own 3G phone signal, until we got close to an Amtrak station. 

    3:40pm: Got back on the train home, this time using the barcode saved over to Apple Passbook application; scanned with no issue. Both the QR Code from the Amtrak application and barcode in the Passbook application worked well for me.

    I finish this blog, more comfortable buying a ticket through the Amtrak iPhone application, taking a trip up to Seattle, or maybe south somewhere.