Friday, November 18, 2005
Thirty Seconds over Hillsboro
"wanna wanna, wanna wanna push it. Push it!"
"in the basement bars, in the backs of cars, be cool or be cast out."
Well, it's official. Since Monday I've become one of those "Washington County MAX commuter types". I got myself a temp job in Hillsboro until Christmas Eve. It's a total crap corporate job, and I won't go much beyond that (other than it's not telemarketing or working for Nike), so please don't ask. Am I thrilled about having to commute out there? Hell no. But I am very broke, and they were very much hiring, and the money ain't bad. So I'll bite my tongue until Dec. 23rd.
I will have to admit that I do not care much for the western suburbs of Portland, whether it be Hillsboro, Gresham, Tigard, etc. They represent the suburban blandness found through much of America. What uniqueness may still be found has been stifled by big box stores and anonymous housing developments. And it wasn't always this way--Hillsboro and Gresham were small farm towns. The infrastructure wasn't set up for cities. Now we have rapidly developing areas that aren't going to slow down soon, and despite MAX being very successful out there, it's still not enough.
Before I go further down the road of piss and vinegar, I was chided by a friend of mine about my Hillsboro opinions. He said that I was being a snob. Possibly I was. It's because I made a conscious choice to move to an urban area that was dense, lively, artsy, and easy to get around when I moved from Connecticut. It first led me to the Bay Area and now Portland. The lifestyle of places like Hillsboro--sprawl, office parks, highways, box stores-was not my lifestyle, so I avoided it. But I realize that some people like it that way, and also that some people have less of a choice where they live. So I'm not going to endlessly badmouth SubUrbWashCo here. Sorry if what I already said offends.
Anyways, as stated above, I have become a MAX commuter. It's weird since I've been primarily a bike commuter since living here. Honestly, before this job I took MAX west of Washington Park maybe twice. So it's weird to have to rely on the train.
I do like the MAX (and rail transit in general), but I like biking more. For a short time, I thought about being hard-core and bike commuting to the job, but there are some very good reasons why I wussed out: It's over a 20 mile ride, one-way. I would have to travel over the West Hills, climbing up to about 700' in elevation. It would probably take about 2 hours to travel one way. It already is an hour-plus MAX commute (to a job I don't want to go to, mind you), so how much more of my day do I want to commit to this job? Besides, going home would be in the dark on busy suburban thoroughfares (not fun even in daytime), and though the weather right now is perfect for such a commute, it won't always be.
Enough negative comments! Now let me try to be positive here:
-Commuting via MAX means catching up on reading and the ability to write letters (two things very difficult to do while riding a bike, though lets see if RevPhil can pull it off)
-I have a new excuse to listen to transit tracker info on 238-RIDE
-By assignments end, I'll be totally familiar with all MAX stops between downtown and Orenco Station, and if I'm lucky I'll be able to name them off in order
-I learned how to properly pronounce Quatama
-And Aloha (it's A-LOW-uh)
-By the way, even though Aloha's P.O. is in Beaverton, the community is not, so don't call an, um, Alohan a, er, Beaver. It will lead to a fight.
-The roads have bike lanes all the way from the MAX station to work (a plus in this region)
-At least the corporate "campus" I work at bioswaled its parking lot
-And the highlight: behind work is Rock Creek, a bit of urban wetland that has been preserved as a park. Through it runs the Rock Creek Trail. In the bottoms I have seen a blue heron, heard a hawk, and saw a flock of Swifts. This was all within 100 yards of very busy Cornell Road!
And remember, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger...