Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adventures in High Places

And so we continue the  story of our Northwest adventure this past September with a little look at some of the other high places we encountered. Of course a trip far from home always begins with the never ending thrill of flight. Ignoring all the incredible inconveniences of doing so, I still love to move high above the earth to get to where I am going.

Takeoff from the shorter runways and city airspace of Chicago, Midway, is always exciting.

The drama of clouds is interesting for a while, but then you miss seeing that huge expanse of country you are moving over.

My travel partner and I often sit across the aisle from each other for a little extra freedom, but this time we managed to sit together with an empty middle seat. Yeah for room to breath!

My carry-on is always a backpack at my feet containing all my entertainment and nourishment to make the confinement less odious.

While he watched a movie, I practiced my drawing (and storytelling) skills. Water soluble marker and a water brush are easy to use in a tight space. Because I generally work in a Moleskine journal, I sometimes gesso the page to give the watercolor something to attach to (and not bleed through).
I always research and plan extensively on travel to new places so that we can find maximum fun and waste as little time as possible looking for things to do. On this visit I was determined to ride the aerial tram that rises from the Portland river front to one of the highest points in the city at OHSU, the Oregon Health and Sciences University. (Be sure to check out the amazing photos on the Tram's home page. The day we rode was a little hazy so I didn't get the good shot of Mt. Hood.)

Upon researching the ride I fell upon the opportunity for folding it into a great all day adventure about town called the the 4T Trail. The gist of it is: learn how to traverse a large loop of the city encompassing three forms of public transit (train, tram and trolley), but enjoy a serious hillside, deeply wooded, trail hike through several adjoining city parks, beginning at the entrance to the zoo in the West Hills and ending on the OHSU campus at the tram. Brochures with seriously detailed directions were printed and the adventure began after a hearty breakfast at Cheryl's on 12th.

The first order of business is figuring out how to buy a one day pass from the ticket machine and then just standing by for the next train.

Dave gives me his silly stare as we head off for the starting gate: a deep tunnel ride and a very long elevator up to reach the Oregon Zoo.
After crossing over a major highway and following the map we found the start of the trail.

Lucky for us, it was a beautiful day, not too hot, and the trail was nicely packed, neither muddy or loose, because the traversing of four to five miles of steep root and rock entwined switchbacks proved to be more than my ordinary workout! We encountered very few humans (and no animals to speak of) except for a few seriously fit runners and trail bikers, and the occasional city employee working a "situation" of some sort.

At about the half way point, high above the city behind me, we take time for a short break.

Looking west, hard to believe we are in the city.

After what felt like many hours we stumbled out of the woods and onto the OHSU campus at a parking lot with no obvious sign of the tram. A bathroom pit stop and several inquiries later, we found the medical building where the tram arrives and departs on a quite regular schedule, and after enjoying the outstanding view from inside the building, we ventured out to ride the tram standing inside a deceptively large car with numerous doctors, nurses and medical students to descend in all too brief a ride to the river below.

The view from inside the hospital.

Outside in the loading area as the tram arrives.

The hard earned reward ride. Mount Hood is out there in the mist.
The Willamette River that divides Portland into East and West neighborhoods.
Downtown, on the West side. In the center of the shot is the high rise apartment building that may become our new home next year. It too has these views!
A new bridge scheduled to open next year. New trolley lines as well will make transit across to the East side neighborhoods much more practical. 
And so, the final adventure in high places is on the way back home, Mt. Hood, always snow capped, waving goodbye for now.

Next up: Home Sweet Home, a look at some of the culinary pleasures of the city.

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