Now that I’m in Oregon I have the chance to go to the Ranger training for SOAK, the regional Burning Man gathering for Portland and western Oregon. This a cool thing because I’ve been friends with PDX Rangers for many, many years but never been able to see them on their home turf.

The area called “Portland” is, in fact, a widespread collection of suburbs. I’m starting in Aloha and am heading over to Brentwood-Darlington, to the Burner Barn.


On my way to the first bus I see this wee confident chihuahua owning the other side of the street.

Today seems to be “new image types day” here in the ‘burbs. Above is a Google Motion Photo exported as a GIF. Let me know if you don’t see the chihuahua in motion. Below ought to be an embedded 360° Google Maps panorama.

Continuing on the MAX we pass the Apple Store at Pioneer Square, an unbelievably great location that captures the eyeballs of mass-transit riders for an entire block. It’s not hyperbole that one of the industries revolutionized by Steve Jobs includes retail: ride by this location in the evening, view the floor-to-ceiling glass and the space within illuminated with that certain color of light, and tell me if it’s not unlike anything that came before. There’s a Microsoft store, a block away, that proves the point: it reeks of the stagnation and despair of the set of “The Office”. Yeah, revolutionary.

Did you know that it’s someone’s job to clean and shine the multi-story ladder that extends from the fire truck. Now both of us know it :-)

The Dream, by Michael Florin Dente, 1990, depicting the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King plus three allegorical sculptures: a man who symbolizes the American worker, a woman who represents immigration, and a young girl shown releasing King’s coattail, who represents, according to Dente, the “letting go” that occurs when people sacrifice their time and energy to engage in a struggle.

Leg #2 is done with at the Rose City Park Transit Center, where we leave the MAX and walk up the stairs…

…to the bus pick-up area…

…an area beautifully adorned with finely-detailed murals…

…my favorite of which is the commuter coyote.

From the bus, I saw these two elderly gentlemen pruning a tree with great attention (and a bit of precarious wobbling on that rickety stepladder set upon the wet ground).

Finally, it’s the Burner Barn, with a work project underway. The familiar sounds of enthusiastic conversation and power tools give me a warm rush. There’s art underway!

The entranceway to the Burner Barn teaching space features a familiar face, a nice welcome in a new, damp environment.

The training space is warm, comfortable, approachable: it brings out the comfortable side of learning new things and practicing new skills. Our co-hosts, Hazlenut and Sinamox, did a masterful job of inculcating the Ranger ethos to their audience, which included both relative newbies and old hands. It was a pleasure.

Hazlenut and Sinamox, doing a post-training impromptu in-the-road debrief. Again, thank you both, very much!

With rain looming, I start the walk back to mass transit, passing by this cheerful tulip-filled garden.

Portland, the land of fourteen bridges, as seen from the MAX.

Home again, but not before the skies have opened wide and all the rain has been dumped on me. Luckily I’ve obtained a Nike Storm Fly jacket (think of the rain fly outer layer on your tent and you’ve got it) and I stay nice and dry, ready for another day’s adventures.

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