There are plenty of ways to get to know a new neighborhood or a new town. I enjoy running through it.
Running is a steady and (for me) slow pace that allows me to take in the scenery. The pavement under my feet is either smooth or gravelly. I sometimes have to dodge potholes, and other times find an alternate way through because there's no sidewalk. Sometimes there's broken glass, and sometimes weeds. Dodging these items (or not having to dodge anything at all on a nice, smooth sidewalk) tells a lot about a block, a neighborhood, a town.
On April 2nd, I ran my first 10K in Portland. I did a 5K Turkey Trot in Beaverton for Thanksgiving, which was fun, but it was through the same neighborhood I drive nearly every day. This 10K, however, took me to the convention center and The Moda Center where the Trailblazers play, and it also took me through the Pearl District. These are areas I've been to, but I haven't had the luxury of visiting them often, or with the time to note details.
Anyone who has spent some time here knows there is a large homeless population. You see their tents pitched along major roadways or in sections of town. Some were pitched in green spaces beside The Moda Center. Others were pitched under bridges we ran beneath. It's frustrating and disheartening to see so many people without a place to live. I don't know what to do other than donate money to organizations that help the homeless and hand out the occasional meal. It feels like a much bigger problem than can be solved with money or meals, but it's better to do something small than nothing at all.
We ran through an industrial area near the Willamette River. I recall one building covered with panels of different colored glass rather than walls. Inside there were more panels of glass, some clear, others opaque, and all in different colors and textures. It was a place that sold glass for making stained glass designs. I made stained glass pieces a long time ago. Most of them were Celtic patterns, but I also made a turtle as a gift. That design was completely original, and I worked on it with a friend. In fact, I worked on all of my pieces with a friend because she had all the tools. I just bought the glass, came over, and ate pie. She had a thing about finding the perfect pie crust, and it was my duty, as her friend, to help her figure that out. Anyhow, all of those memories came flooding back to me as I ran around that building, with all the glass winking in the morning sun, and it was fantastic. I could let my mind go and follow that thread to that memory. Also, Amanda, I'm still not sorry I ate that entire pie and didn't offer any to anybody else, and I would do it all over again.
We also ran across the Broadway Bridge. There are about a million bridges in Portland, so about the only way I'll ever get them all sorted in my head is to become intimately familiar with each one. When you trudge your way across a bridge twice, you remember it well.
All in all, it was a good race. The weather cooperated, the scenery was mostly lovely, and I ran a PR, which is always exciting. And, I got to know a little more about my new town.
I write fantasy, horror, and science fiction. I attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2007, and I belong to an online writing community called Codex. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm addicted to coffee and chocolate.