May 7, 2010
I have been to Portland often enough that this an easy trip - I understand the light rail system, have a few favorite places to go after work, so I am able to enjoy the city. I had client meetings after work each day, so I was not able to hit the local sights/bike shops, but I've been there and done that and I"ll be back, so that's just fine with me.
The Salt Lake City leg of the trip, on the other hand, was a bit more of an adventure. Previously, I had only changed planes in SLC, so I never got to actually venture out of the airport before this trip..
Despite the moon-like ambiance, the atmosphere of Salt Lake City was breathable without respirators and the natives even spoke my language.
However, like a lot of western cities, SLC has some pretty damn inefficient land use, particularly around the edges. Other than unusually long on- and off-ramps and some really wide streets, SLC seemed pretty typical of most western cities to me. Sprawling development is the bane of the west - why build up when you can just go out?
As for the extra-wide streets, a local told me that back in the day, the streets were made wide to enable large ore wagons to turn around (SLC has been a big mining area for years and years, and Kennicot and the LDSer's set the tone early in SLC it seems).
As for SLC bike culture, not so much. I saw one nice looking fixed gear and several cars with good road bikes mounted on racks, plus a couple on a really nice tandem that I waited for at an intersection (in fact, they were quite a team - the stoker never took her feet off the pedals while stopped and when the light changed, the take-off seemed effortless so I could tell they were not tandem rookies).
I had more than enough time between my last meeting and my flight home, so I took advantage of that by driving around the used-and-abused wastelands surrounding the airport (If you are trying to get hte feel of a place, I find it's best to ignore the tourist propaganda and get off the beaten path). Honestly, the amount of metal recycling yards and concrete plants, etc. out by the edge of town is astounding. I would have taken pictures, but there was no way to capture the expanse of blight in a single image (even if I had a wide-angle lens).
The return to chilly rain in the MSP was sobering, but hopefully we'll be seeing warmer temps and feeling the sultry summer breezes soon. Tomorrow promises a little bit of business followed by some wrenching and fine-tuning that will lead up to (hopefully) the unveiling of my cycle-chic, stop-and-smell-the-roses, 1968 Raleigh Three-speed.
at 11:57 PM