August 13, 2017
Without a doubt my favorite Portland walk is the annual Providence Bridge Pedal and Stride. It is special because it only happens one day a year. The city shuts down many of the bridges in town for a Sunday morning and turns them over to bicyclists and walkers. This is the third year in a row we’ve done it and it was the best yet – we got to walk over four bridges instead of just two!The starting point is just south of the Morrison Bridge on the Portland Waterfront. After crossing the Morrison we head south and then over the top deck of the Marquam Bridge – an I5 interstate bridge. From there we have a mile or so on the closed-for-the-morning I405 freeway and across the other I5/I405 bridge that spans the Willamette River in Portland – the Fremont. Finally we head south and over the Steel Bridge back to the finish line at Portland Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Here is the map.
Carla and I, along with her sister and her friend and our visitor from Italy hopped on MAX about 7:15 and headed into downtown. Last year Carla was out of town so her sister and I did it ourselves; we got there early and were at the head of the pack. Today we missed the earlier MAX train so got to the starting line just to see the main striding pack about 1/4 mile down the road. No worries – we had plenty of time and didn’t have to contend with too many walkers.
If you live in the Northwest you know we have had an extended heat wave (for us) – I think 6 weeks without measurable precipitation. With smoke blowing in from the many fires up in British Columbia it hasn’t been the most pleasant weather to be out in. But Saturday night / Sunday morning a marine front came in from the Pacific giving us a bit of rain and lots of cloudy skies. I think the bridges look a little nicer with blue sky backgrounds; but we were happy to have it cool and smokeless skies.
I won’t bore you with too much narrative; I’ll let the pictures do the talking – click on the images to get bigger views if you wish. Oh, whom am I kidding; I can’t shut up; I’ll have plenty to say.
Here is the newest span across the Willamette River – Tilikum Crossing. Cars aren’t allowed – it’s a commuter bridge for pedestrians, busses, streetcar, and MAX.
The scene on top of the tall interstate bridges is a party with everyone stopping to snap photos and get some snacks.
Our Italian visitor doesn’t like to have her photo taken but consented to memorialize the occasion. Here is our little group.
As we walked down the west side of the Marquam Bridge we had a very nice view of OHSU. It’s the local county hospital, medical school, dental school, nursing school, VA hospital, and research facility. If you look at the center of the picture just in front of the blue “L” shaped building you can see the the tram station. There are two cable trams running from the hill down to the new clinics, schools, and research centers sprouting up on the south Waterfront. I’m proud to say I’ve been part of the institution going on 18 years – though I work in downtown Portland.
After a longish walk north on the eerily car-free I405 southbound lanes we approached the other I5/I405 bridge – the Fremont. Like most of the downtown bridges, this was built before we moved to Portland in the 70’s. The huge middle part between the arches was fabricated in California, assembled at Swan Island north of the city, and floated up the Willamette and gently dropped into place. I would have like to have seen that. You can read about it here.
More entertainment on this bridge. A group of Japanese drummers.
After lingering on the party deck for a while we finished crossing and headed south to our final bridge crossing – the Steel bridge. With the Burnside Bridge in the forefron you can see some of the other bridges. the Marquam is the tall one to the south and you can see one of the spires of Tilikum Crossing in the left background. I think of the Willamette River being straight through downtown Portland but it definitely has a bend or two.
After crossing the finish line we had a cookie or piece of fruit and went hunting lunch. We were on Pine Street so we couldn’t pass by Pine Street Market – a big hall with a few dining options inside – think of it as a mall food court on steroids. Portland is a renown foodie town so you won’t find franchise food here – there are great options for burgers, pizza and other treats. Carla’s sister and her friend had Vietnamese Bim Bop bowls with plenty of veggies and a fried egg on top. Carla and I had ramen from Marukin – don’t think Top Ramen in the cellophane packets. This is the real deal; delicious noodles in an ambrosia-like broth. I had pork broth; Carla and a combination of pork and chicken. I’ve eaten ramen in a few Portland spots – this is the best. Our Italian visitor had pizza. She’s been sampling pizza and pasta on her visit to see how it matches the real deal back home. The pizza isn’t like the Italian version she is used to but it is good.
Um, why no pictures of lunch? Cause I was too hungry to think about taking any! Sorry
The walk was just over 7.5 miles – not too bad at all. If your are thinking of coming to Portland, August is a great time and the Providence Bridge Pedal and Stride is a great way to see the city – in a way you just can’t whizzing by in your car.