My roommate and I were driving across one of Portland’s many bridges one day after our yuppie workout class, zooming past strolling pedestrians and spandex-clad bike commuters, discussing our plans for the day.
“You know,” one of us said. “I’ve lived in Portland for quite a while now, and I have never walked across a single bridge.”
“Weirdly,” said the other. “Neither have I.”
It’s not that either of us is ecologically irresponsible, choosing a car when our feet would do just fine. It’s just one of those things that, if you don’t live or work very close to the waterfront, you have very little reason to ever do.
Clearly, this needed to be rectified. You see, Portland is famous for its bridges. Neatly bisected by the Willamette River, to get from one side of the city to the other you have to cross one of ten bridges. Eleven if you count the one that’s just for trains. That’s a lot of bridges for a relatively small city – and is the reason why one of Portland’s aliases is Bridge City.
Our genius plan was to organize a group of ruffians interested in bridge-walking, and traverse one bridge per month until we’ve conquered every last one of ‘em – foul weather, bad traffic and hipster infestations be damned.
Our first conquest was the Hawthorne Bridge:
According to Wikipedia, the Hawthorne Bridge is the country’s oldest vertical-lift bridge. Who knew? Not I. The most interesting facet of this bridge was that the part the cars drive on is a metal grate, so that when you look down and through, you can see the water below. Quite the vertigo-induction.
Once we completed our perilous journey, and since it was Easter Sunday for we secular godless types, we naturally brunched at the only restaurant worth going to at the West base of the Hawthorne Bridge, Veritable Quandary. With a name like that, how could you NOT?
Furthermore, Veritable Quandary bills itself as a restaurant that “offers a truly authentic Portland experience.” I don’t know what to make of that claim, but I will say that 1) the food was good, 2) the place was packed and 3) the service was poor – three identifiers of Portland restaurants if ever there were any.
The Stumptown was burnt but they made us a fresh pot without too much complaint, so everyone went home happy, full, and having conquered our first Portland bridge.
What about you, readers? What iconic or touristy thing have you never gotten around to doing in your home-base city? Or, if you live in Portland, what bridge should we do next?