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Cascadia Trip Inventory: Accumulation from our Trip to Portland and Seattle

Submitted by Richard on Wed, 2009-03-04 14:44

Inspired by the inventories Liz posts on Flickr, Karen and I decided to take a photo of everything we accumulated on our trip to Portland and then Seattle. We set physical we took from America on the floor and then stood on a chair to take the photo with our DSLR. Below is the photo plus a list of the items with some links, taken from the annotations Karen and I added to the Flickr photo.

Cascadia Trip Accumulation
  • Overland Equipment Auburn bag.
  • The Alexander Technique Manual by Richard Brennan
  • Two maps of Powell's City of Books in Portland.
  • Boost Your Brain Power Week by Week: 52 Techniques to Make You Smarter by Bill Lucas
  • U.S. stamps for mailing postcards.
  • Various TriMet maps, passes and info. From right to left: three maps, a comic in Spanish, and a bike rider's guide. The five passes are: one bus transfer, two weekly passes, and two "honored citizens" passes that I rescued from the trash.
  • Seattle Sound Transit guide.
  • Two free Portland bridges bookmarks. That beat paying $19 for the poster of the same bridges.
  • Inclusive City book flyer.
  • 4 Amtrak ticket stubs for the train trips we took from Portland to Seattle, then from Seattle to Vancouver.
  • Artist postcard from gallery in the Pearl District.
  • Pumpkin Butter with Port, from the "Made in Oregon" store.
  • Spiced hazelnuts with cinnamon and pepper. I talked to the man who makes them at the People's Co-op Farmer's Market. It was chilly. (The weather at the market, not the man!)
  • Dreaming Escape, a book of poems translated from Albanian.
  • Greeting cards from Positively Green
  • Seattle Art Museum tickets to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. We stumbled on it on our way to a concert, donated in the wrong box, plead our case, and got in as the result of the donation.
  • Our little big purchase: the Flip MinoHD, with a custom design that I commissioned from @idleglory (flickr: rocketcandy).
  • 2 rolls of film from the Fisheye camera, ISO 400 and ISO 200.
  • Notebooks and a Jane Austen address book, also from Powell's.
  • Apple Cider, obtained from the Farmer's Market.
  • Bridges of Portland fridge magnet.
  • Art gallery opening card from Moshi Moshi.
  • The poster for Duncan Sheik's 2009 winter tour for Whisper House and Spring Awakening. We attended his shows in Portland and Seattle.
  • Ticket stub from the Portland Duncan Sheik show.
  • Artist postcard from gallery in the Pearl District.
  • Skirt purchased from The Future Inc., which closed this past Saturday.
  • An "Oregon Wilderness" postcard, the outlier of the 8 we sent in total to our American and Canadian friends on this trip.
  • Apple Cinnamon Tea from Pike Place Public Market in Seattle. The entire kitchen smells like this tea now.

Video of the MAX Arriving Gateway/Northeast 99th Avenue Transit Center

Submitted by Richard on Tue, 2009-03-03 13:37

On my trip to Portland last week, while my girlfriend went to the People's Farmer's Market, I took a jaunt over to the airport from downtown. To travel from the airport from downtown, I had to get a zone upgrade, because the 7-day pass we bought (see below) afforded us 2 zones. (We mostly traveled from Zone 2 through Zone 1 to the Fareless Square.) The fine folks at the TriMet information office at Pioneer Courthouse Square advised me that to get the zone upgrade, I would have to step on a bus, get an upgrade, and immediately disembark and hop on the train. I wasn't interested in risking getting caught by a fare inspector, so I made the trip to Gateway/Northeast 99th Avenue TC, hopped off the train, and got a zone upgrade from the #19 bus driver there.

On the trip I took quite a bit of HD video using the Flip Mino HD camera we bought. Following is a Hillsboro-bound MAX train arriving at Gateway/Northeast 99th Avenue Transit Center (which I will refer to in conversation as "Gateway" after the SkyTrain station here in Greater Vancouver).

Having a 7-day pass may not have been worth it from a purely financial perspective: as mentioned, we spent 5 days there in total and the pass did not apply to the Aerial Tram up to OHSU. (We would have appreciated a ticket stub as a memento of that trip. I sent a note to TriMet directly with that suggestion.) We did very much appreciate the convenience of the two-zone fare and not only the convenience of not having to fish for change, but being able to select which consecutive 7 days we could use the pass. In Toronto, you can't select which days. At least they have one, though: we'd love to be able to have weekly passes in Vancouver!

Upcoming trip: Portland and Seattle

Submitted by Richard on Mon, 2009-02-09 18:58

We've bought the tickets, so it's official: Karen and I will be going to Portland for the last week of February, then take a very short side-trip to Seattle on the way back. We're taking the Greyhound bus down from Vancouver, B.C., so we'll get a lot of Interstate 5 goodness. Since we didn't know exactly how we were getting back from Seattle, we decided that at least on the way from PDX to Seatown that we'd take the Amtrak train. A little more expensive, and the Amtrak guy in Vancouver wanted to see our passports. We managed to convince the ticket agent that we didn't know we needed them to buy tickets and that we had just made the decision (both true), so we'll finally be able to do as Djun did in 2005.

We very tentatively decided to neither of us bring our laptops, the idea being that we'll find enough computing power with friends and cafes to check our email as much as we need to and that's it. I'll bring my iPhone, which I'm assured by the fine folks at Fido will cost me an arm and a leg to use the data plan while roaming in the United States. As part of our trip budget, I have an amount of total usage in mind. Again, friends and wifi in the wilds of PDX will get us jacked in when we need to.

To update my thoughts on the PDX Bus iPhone application, the developer today had approved a 2.0 release of the app, which embeds Google Maps inside the application. It also adds a flashing screen to make it easier for TriMet bus drivers to see you. I didn't believe that TriMet actually recommending this, but the transportation agency itself has an explanatory video, including asking for what are called in Vancouver "request stops", i.e. getting dropped off anywhere along the route, not just at designated stops.

PDX Bus iPhone App Shows Next Bus, MAX, and Streetcar Information

Submitted by Richard on Sun, 2008-09-21 02:10

Last night, taking a walk in the park, I sat down on a bench and looked at all the iPhone apps that have to do with Navigation. One that caught my eye was PDX Bus, which takes TriMet data and makes it accessible in a nice easy-to-use interface. Users can type in a stop ID, browse stops on a per-MAX line and per-bus basis, with each stop giving users the estimated time of arrival and, tapping through to the individual train or bus, users have the option to show the location on a Google Map of where that vehicle is currently located. The following screenshot shows the Library/SW 9th MAX station with a train arriving in 7 minutes from the time I took the screenshot. Clicking the icon in the bottom right-hand corner gets users the option to find the train on a map.

Library/SW 9th MAX station with a train arriving in 7 minutes

Now, as a Canadian not (yet?) living in Portland, Oregon, at the moment, it was a little difficult to verify any of the information that the app obtains from the TriMet data store. In fact, all my research leads me to believe that data roaming will not be cheap when I visit PDX. As the app relies on information over the Internet, it'll probably take finding a free wi-fi spot to get the latest info on MAX trains, streetcars and buses while traveling.

My interest in the app stems from both the fact that I have an iPhone 3G and that TransLink, Vancouver, B.C.'s transportation authority has commissioned an iPhone app, not-yet-released but demoed at a recent MobileCamp Vancouver. I'm looking forward to such an app (which I understand will be a wrapper for a web app using TransLink's data) and urge the developers to take a look at PDX Bus for inspiration. The PDX Bus app itself could use a little more GPS integration (for example, what are upcoming transit options for stops near me?).

Check out the PDX Bus blog and the the brief announcement by the developer. There's also Matt King's TriMet Tracker iPhone-friendly website for similar information.

The MAX in Zero Effect

Submitted by Richard on Sat, 2005-09-24 20:56

The part I love most about Portland is the MAX, the city's street level light-rail system connecting the suburbs with the downtown core. I've only riden it once from the suburbs—during my friend's bachelor party—so most of the times are from and to a point inside downtown Portland to somewhere just outside the core. This year, while at a week-long conference, I took either the Red Line or the Blue Line train to the Oregon Convention Center from my downtown hotel, since, well, it was free to do so.

The MAX train in Zero Effect

A couple of weeks ago, I watched Zero Effect, set in Portland. The movie is primarily about a timber tycoon who is blackmailed and is given elaborate directions to drop payments each time. During one of the payments, the tycoon is directed to hop on a MAX train (though to my recollection, it's never reffered to as "the MAX" but as "the train"). I just edited the Wikipedia page for the MAX to include information about that reference, since other appearances in film of the MAX were listed. It's my first major contribution to the Wikipedia, so I expect it to be edited—it could maybe use a little more detail—I'll save for a little posterity the text that I wrote:

Zero Effect (1998, dir. Jake Kasdan): the wealthy blackmailed timber tycoon is directed by his blackmailer to board the train with a three-digit number delivered to his pager while on his way to deliver his next payment. A MAX train, with the painted number 119 and "Portland" displayed on its sign, pulls up to him. He is then shown on the train for about 15 seconds. As the movie is set in Portland, MAX train bells can be heard in the background throughout.

Metropolitan Area Express (Portland, Oregon) - Wikipedia

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