Inauspicious signs for the beginning of a journey.
At the beginning of July, I gained access to the Portland Harbor area via the Swan Island boat ramp. It didn’t seem very intuitive to me that there might be a recreational launching point in the middle of what I always perceived to be a heavy industrial area, but there it was, a long non-descript boat ramp angling into the water at the tail end of long rectangular un-natural looking bay, a body of water perhaps designed to provide comprehensive access to Port of Portland dry docks or perhaps merely the ex-channel that once, presumably, gave Swan Island the right to be defined as an island.
At the tiny beach end of the rectangle in a dirty crescent of sand, pregnant women cast their fishing lines into the water as they lounged in cheap folding chairs and watched their young children splashing in the water, and playing with plastic detritus.
Editors note: In response to reader commentary, we are providing the alternate sentence for your consideration -
At the tiny beach end of the rectangle in an oil slicked crescent of sand, a score of obviously pregnant women lounging in cheap folding chairs alternated sipping TAB and nibbling at Twinkies with casting their fishing lines into the turbid water, only haphazardly (if at all) watching their young malnourished children splashing in the water, playing with odd bits of plastic (sometimes mouthing them) or molding castles out of thick, smelly, organic detritus.
It was hot and the boat ramp seemed kind of isolated from civilization on a holiday weekend, the factories and piers deserted and even fast food businesses closed. A vagrant walking a bicycle, telltale garbage-bag knapsacks tied to a makeshift rack, patrolled a walking path that intersected the parking lot. I saw him headed north at first, but later as I unloaded my gear, I saw him coast through headed south again. I wagered, uncharitably, that there was a 50-50 chance that I’d lose another car window by the end of the day, so I was careful to sweep the cab for valuables.
Map taken from:
Oregon Department of Human Services
Superfund Health Investigation and Education
Portland Harbor Health Assessment Findings
Contaminants Detected: Surface Water
HEXACHLOROCYCLOHEXANE, ALPHA ISOMER
HEXACHLOROCYCLOHEXANE, BETA ISOMER
METHYL PHENOL, 4-
Taken from www.scorecard.org - The Pollution Information Site
Rivers and oceans are so big, they were able to cover or wash away many of our sins for the better part of our occupancy on Earth. But the technology that arises from our intellectual cleverness has allowed us to reproduce prodigiously and plunder resources at a rate that may ultimately empower us to kill the oceans.
Chains built for giants
Massive metal plates on a framework so vast, they look like the taut skin of a zeppelin
The paradox of metal that floats
St. Johns Bridge
At the interface between land and water, everything is temporary.
If it takes a dry dock to repair a ship…
…how do you repair a dry dock?
This city made possible by a generous grant from the Willamette River.