A semi-daily chronicle of my life as a musician, a family man, and a citizen of Oregon.

Jun 6, 2008

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Expanding on this blog's great tradition of both admiring and loving Trimet while also complaining about it incessantly, I experienced one of my more interesting commuting trips yesterday. 

The Rose Festival is going on right now in downtown Portland.  For my friends and readers not from the great state of Oregon, the Rose Festival is a civic festival that's been going on for over a hundred years in the city.  The city fancies itself a Rose capital because of its ideal weather for growing the flowers.  I'm not sure if the Rose growing is relevant to the festival or not, though.  The festivities include a parade, high school popularity contests, and a kind of fair on the waterfront with a Ferris wheel and a bungie sling.  For some inexplicable reason a big part of the Rose Festival is what is called the arrival of the ships.  Boats from the Navy, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and Royal Canadian Navy come in and dock on the waterfront.  It's a bit of an inside joke around Portland that local girls head down to the waterfront to meet sailors.

The weather has been unseasonably cold and grey, and I every time the subject comes up my coworkers say "it's always like this during Rose festival" in a way that I'm getting tired of.

Yesterday I was headed home and reading and I absent-mindedly got on the yellow line MAX, which goes into North Portland, instead of the red or blue line, which go towards my house.  I do this all the time and realized my mistake at about the 1st & Salmon stop, and was proud of myself for getting off before it was too late.  No big deal, I thought I would just wait for the next train.

Well, turns out because the ships were coming in, the Steel Bridge was up, so the MAX of any color couldn't run over the river.  Trimet did a good job of getting shuttle buses ready so we were all hussled over to make a detour over the Broadway Bridge.  When we got on the bridge, though, we discovered no love.  The Broadway Bridge also went up to allow the ships to get through.  We were stuck on the bridge for about a half hour.

My fellow bus-mates were many of the usual MAX commuters, but included specifically:

  • a very loud and sarcastically bombastic gentleman from an unidentifiable country
  • his mid-life female companion, who found his sarcastic complaints to be uproariously funny
  • a generic semi-jockey kind of guy with the heavy gauge piercing and tattoos that scream "I used to be way into Limp Bizkit, but I'm more of a Muse kind of guy now" that was very upset to be missing the beginning of the celtics/lakers game
  • A woman who agreed with him, about Limp Bizkit, Muse, and the game.
  • A hipster guy with glasses who knew a lot about a lot of different stuff
  • his female companion/girlfriend?
  • A hipster gal with a bright green knee-length mohair coat who seemed to be trying to make the best of the situation

It was one of those situations where I wished my earphones were just a bit more noise-canceling.

Of course, the vast majority were complaining which annoyed me because like my green-garbed friend I was in a mood to make the best of the situation and watch the ships come in.  But it was still interesting to see the ships, with the sailors all standing out on deck like little white smudges. 

At one point the fire boat started spraying out water, like an overexcited puppy.  Suddenly the water was dyed red, white, and blue.  Here's a picture:

photo credit: Jason McHuff

At that moment the girl in the green coat goes "isn't the USA awesome?" in a totally deadpan way I found to be very funny.

This morning I snapped a pic of the ships off the steel bridge: