Getting down to marine Drive took no time at all.
But things got a little wierd, and disroenting, as soon as I made my way into the suburbs a bit. Suddenly, there were all these streets and roads I didn't remember (I hadn't been out there in awhile and there had been more construction and development in my absence).
Fairview is an actual city now. I forget this until I ride out there again. When I was a kid, Fairview consisted of a mini-mart, and a single-wide trailer which housed the post office on one side and the police department on the other.
I managed to find my way to 223rd Ave. and slogged up the hill all the way to Stark Street. When I was a kid, this corner had been home to a ca dealership, a donut shop and a small bar. Now, the entire intersetion was dominated by three different car lots. Everything looked different because the streets had been widened and repaved. The light was glaringly bright and I felt like I could have been just as easily riding in Beaverton or Tigard.
I continued on, into downtown Gresham. The K-Mart on Burnside used to have a giant dirt hill next t it where we'd ride our BMX bikes. Today the hill is gone, flattened out, and an office building of some sort stands in its place. I smiled sadly and rode on into old downtown Gresham, stopping at the high school.
|The front entrance, in its slightly outdated but very cool art deco glory (the school was built in 1940).|
I used to ride to school and lock my bike to this railing every morning. Years ago, my choir director told me he ket a spare key to this door in the rain gutter up above, in one of those little magnetic cases. If for some reason he'd misplaced his keys, he could still get into the building after hours for rehearsals or plays or whatever. (This was over thirty years ago, and obviously it was -- sigh -- another time.)
I could hear old choral music in my head, stuff I'd sung in school, as I pedaled down a very quiet Main Street.
At the old library building, I turned down the side street that took me to the very first house I'd lived in when my family and I moved to Oregon. I was pretty miserable when we first moved here. I had a tough time making friends and hated my school, hated my dumpy neighborhood.
Across the street from the house stood a lovely thing, a treasure: a small pocket of trees, like someone's miniature private woods.
Amazingly enough, they are still there today. The entire lot has never been developed.
Most days I was alone, lonely, with no one to play with. By sixth grade I was probably the only kid I knew who still wanted to "play" at things, as most of my classmates were transitioing to things like "crushes" and "dating" -- my mother insisted they were lying about their exploits, no reasonable parent would let their daighter cruise 82nd Avenue and neck with a boy in a back seat at age twelve -- but it didn't matter. I couldn't relate to my classmates and wasn't friends with any of them. So on the days when it wasn't pouring -- the rainy seasons in Oregon took some adjustment on my part -- I would leave the house and walk into my own private woods across the street. No one else ever seemed to hang out there, and no one ever seemed to notice me hanging out there. So I was free to play in the woods, spinning out all sorts of heroic fantasies of derring-do. It wasn't ideal and maybe it wasn't "healthy", but those woods were a godsend during my first year in Oregon.
I think it's miraculous that the trees are still standing, and the floor of the miniature wood is still thick with grass and moss.
Approaching the Johnson Creek Watershed part of the path after 45th Ave, I enjoyed a beautiful corridor of green en route to the Bybee Street Overpass, a bike-ped bridge that goes over McLoughlin Boulevard and the train tracks.
Eventually, slower now and with very tired legs and knees, I made my way back to town. I was supposed to meet a friend at Lucky Lab but he didn't show after half an hour, so I finished my cider and rode into town to catch the MAX to Overlook and ride the rest of the way home. By the time I rolled up the drive way I'd ridden 43.5 miles and was completely ready to stop. A good day on the bike.