Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snow Enables My First Walk Across the Hawthorne Bridge

To make sure you understand where I'm coming from, I've got a noticeable case of gephyrophobia--the fear of bridges. I notice changes in my breathing and how my skin feels when I drive over really high bridges. I notice irrational thoughts, such as "I'm going to drive right off this bridge." I notice that if I say to myself, "I'm going to stay on this road"--suggested by my brother to help me with my other fears, heights and driving/riding on curving, rising, steep roads--I have managed to make it in the Buick over eight of Portland's 10 bridges that cross the Willamette as well as the Interstate and Glenn Jackson bridges over the Columbia River. I have even waited patiently in the car while the Burnside Bridge closed after letting some water vehicle go up river. I can ride the bus over the Hawthorne and the Morrison bridges just fine. I thoroughly enjoy looking out the bus windows.

So, on the morning of Jan. 16 I walked to the 15 bus at NW 23rd and Flanders, in a swiftly falling, big-flaked snow that had already blanketed parked vehicles, streets and sidewalks. I trusted TriMet to get me where I was going, even if the night before the trusty weatherman had emphatically played down the possibility of accumulating snow on the valley floor which is where a large portion of Portland exists. I had on my tall black rubber boots with my YakTrax stretched onto the soles, my some-kind-of vinyl-hip-length dark green jacket, my red Dale Earnhardt Jr. billed cap, my gloves and scarf--I was ready.

I boarded the 15, joining other stalwart employees headed for their jobs. As we slowly rode and occasionally slid our way to SW Salmon and Third, I took my three-week-old Nikon D50 out of my vinyl tote and hung it around my neck, tucked in over near my left arm/shoulder, and zipped the jacket. I was more than ready.

Turns out TriMet was not ready. They had believed the area forecasters and had not put chains on a single bus. Here's SW 3rd and Salmon, about 15 minutes after I arrived there, where I wait for my second bus which takes me across the Hawthorne Bridge. It resembled a parking lot in both directions.

During a total of 30 minutes, I talked to myself, silently so as not to disturb everyone else waiting for the right bus to inch to a stop at the curb. "I just ought to walk. My building is right at the other end of the bridge. It's snowing thick enough that I bet I won't be able to see the water so I won't really feel like I'm high up on a bridge. Afterall, snow helped me not be so afraid the second time I went up on Mt. Pilatus in Lucerne and that little snow blower had carved a right nice little solid-looking wall around the viewing area, instead of that dinky-looking metal pipe handrail. In a little while I'm going to need a bathroom break, and I don't know where any close ones are on this side of the river. I can walk up 3rd and turn left at Main and still have one more bus stop between me and the bridge. OK." I set off and just kept walking.

Looking east, from the approach towards the bridge. Already I'm glad to be walking, even if in a few minutes I'll be on the steel grid deck, able to feel it vibrate as vehicles drive by on my left.

You can see on the right lane, heading east, where the steel grid deck starts--the gray area. You can also see in the center of the bridge that very few, if any, vehicles have tried that leftmost eastward lane--the solid white area to the left of that yellow-and-black-chevron-shaped sign. Both westbound lanes are full of traffic at this point.

Looking west, around the middle of the bridge. Please take note of the man walking toward me. You'll see why in a bit.

I've stopped here to talk to myself again. "I made it! If I can walk over the bridge, I can do anything!" You can see a bit of the bottom deck of the Marquam Bridge at the top of the photo. Notice those walkers headed west on the opposite sidewalk?

Looking west, with both decks of the Marquam Bridge in the shot. How weird is it that I got a car carrier headed south on an interstate bridge in a snow storm?

Here's a close-up of the westward headed traffic, vehicular and pedestrian.

Once I got settled in at work, naturally I looked out the windows at any opportunity. Seeing this #10 bus struggling to make it up the approach to the Hawthorne Bridge, I totally understood the number of walkers I'd seen earlier. And I totally knew that I'd be walking back over the bridge when I left work.

Looking west, walking west, having a blast!

Now you know why I said to take note of the man walking toward me, heading east that morning--here he is again, walking in front of me, heading west in the afternoon. Craziest photographic coincidence I believe I've had, and y'all already know about lots of my photographic coincidences, as in matching street-level accessories. I'm not trying to fool you, though, into thinking I noticed the guy and thought, "Wow! The same guy." No, I just snapped photos and there he was on my iBook when I downloaded the photos. Unreal.

I even managed to look at the river on the way back, well, sort of look at it, at an angle. Y'all mathematicians, would that be an oblique angle?

At the west end of the bridge, just before it dips down to street level, there's a ramp the curves up from Tom McCall Waterfront Park. See what I snapped at the top of the ramp--closest I'll ever come to skis.

How fitting that my last photo shows a 4 bus making its way off the bridge onto street level. I'm talking to myself again. "I could have ridden that bus. But if I had, I would have missed reinforcing my ability to walk across the Hawthorne Bridge. I would have missed photo opportunities. Thank you, snow, for changing my fear into accomplishment."

P.S. Please stop by Mama and Me from PDX in a few hours for more Flat Stanley fun.


Annie said...

Lynette, I am so impressed with your willingness to take on that bridge - and to stop and take a few photos for us along the way. Congratulations, big time.

Bpaul said...

Great story! Thanks for posting, and taking so many photos.

GMG said...

Bravo! You made it! The pictures are beautiful. I'm also quite impressed with the description, though to me it seems much more uncomfortable the snow storm than the bridges, I must confess...

Marie said...

Wow, I am really impressed. What a big post. I have not seen the snow for real in a long time....

Me said...

What a great story, and congrats to you for overcoming your fears, and crossing that bridge. I find that being on a 'mission' to take pictures with my camera helps me overcome some fears also.

dot said...

The city looks beautiful with all that snow! And you made it across! Hip Hip Hurrah!!

Fénix (Bostonscapes DP) said...

My comment won't be very original tonight, Lynette, for all I can say is WOW! Amazing post.

• Eliane • said...

I too have to say WOW, that's quite a post. COngrats.
NB: the Barry Manilow billboard cracks me up. For some reason, the thought of Barry singing Copacabana with the snow falling makes me smile.

Hyde DP said...

Great post - I think it is probably better walking in snow like that than being stuck in a traffic jam - although I'm sure glad I don't have to go out in weather like that these days. After reading all that I need to go and have a cup of tea.

Jim said...

Wonderful pictures. It was 81F here yesterday. I miss snow storms like yours.

Greg said...

Great shots and great story. Well done for facing your fears too

Hobart Daily

Gwen said...

Great photographs and post narrative.

Dick said...

Nice photos, we didn't have snow the last years. Beautiful to see but not very nice on the road.

smilnsigh said...

Totally great entry!!!!!!!! Both the photos and the prose. And actually, the prose probably trumps the photos even. A true tale of courage and of a fear conquered.

But ~ the photos are proof of it too! For yourself maybe. When you think back and want to ask; "Did I dream that I did that?!?" :-))))



Olivier said...

superbe cette série de la ville sous la neige. J'en rêve à Évry, je me vois bien faire du ski du fond pour aller au travail ;o)

This superb series of town under the snow. I dream in Evry, I feel good to ski from the bottom to go to work ;o)

Web-OJ said...

Uff! What fantastic pics. Gave us a good view of the place. Those roads really look slippery.

HoodPhotography said...

Weird... I live here and had no idea the snow fell that hard in Downtown. I live out towards Gresham, and we only got a sprinkling... nothing stuck. I should have headed west!

NorthBayPhoto said...

Great winter photos.