This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A trip out of town

(Oops--this was a post that I did not use but left unfinished in the queue with a future date, not quite sure what to do with it. I forgot to change the date, so suddenly it appeared, quite unexpected by me. This is three years old.)

In early March I spent a week in Portland, Oregon. It has a lot of things that Rensselaer does not have, such as large shopping centers with a wide variety of specialty shops, an Apple Mac store a block from out hotel, and downtown they have an enormous bookstore (Powell's). On the other hand, Rensselaer has the Internet, and the Internet is the world's biggest shopping center. The shopping disadvantage of living in a small town is not nearly as big as it was twenty years ago.

Portland has an extensive mass transit system with both street cars and commuter trains. (The street car is below.)
The downtown area is a fare-free zone, so we could travel short distances free. Lots of other people did as well. In contrast, Rensselaer does not even have a taxi. (At least I have not seen the taxi lately--I assume it is out of business.) But then we are too small to really need much.
A strange thing about the transit system was that they rarely checked to see if people actually had purchased the tickets. The economist in me says that a system that allows people to exploit it will be exploited.

I liked some of the civic sculpture. Of the pieces I saw, the elephant near China Town (which probably had very few Chinese left in it) was the most impressive and blows away anything Rensselaer has. On the other hand, on a per capita basis, we probably have as much as they do.
There was a very nice jogging/biking trail along both sides of the river. One morning I went out and ran the three or four mile loop. Rensselaer does not have trails nearly as nice, and I was impressed with the number of people who were commuting via bicycle. On the other hand, Portland does not have an extensive network of country roads within minutes of even the center of town. I think jogging in Rensselaer is better, but would give the biking edge to Portland.
You not only can see the river from the biking/hiking trail, but you can see things like giant ocean ships tied up and being loaded. This 70,000 ton freighter spent a week taking on a load of grain. We have no equivalent to the Willamette River or the ocean commerce is supports.

Nor do we have anything comparable to the spectacular mountains that are in the distance. On the other hand, we could only see Mount Hood for about two hours during the entire time we were there.

Portland had a nice zoo, where the mascot for what was once the Great Northern Railroad could be seen.

Something Portland had a lot of that Rensselaer does not is street people and panhandlers.

They were everywhere. It was odd seeing young, very fit men and women begging.
Some were sleeping under a bridge--the Occupy Movement two and a half years early.


Anonymous said...

Nice trip. You must have enjoyed Portland.

Anonymous said...

The Occupy movement is about Wall Street and the 1%, which is only tangentially related to homeless people sleeping under bridges - unless the 99% all end up there. said...

I just loved the photographs.....They inspire me to visit Portland.