October 15, 2008
Earlier today I finally legalized my goal: I got my motorcycle endorsement on my license. To accomplish this, I took and passed the Team Oregon Basic Rider Skills class this past weekend on Swan Island. It was a thorough, exhausting, entertaining, informative, early (note darkness) and cold (note exhaust). Dreadful iPhone photo:
I took (and passed) this same class several years ago, but then did nothing and my nascent skills faded off. This time I felt confident and excited. And I have not one, but two motorcycle options sitting, beckoning in my garage. I’ll probably tool around on the ’70s-era Honda CB350 for the next while, until I’m solid and primed for my Ducati. David has done a miraculous job of fixing up that Honda, his original motorcycle from when he was 18.
This past weekend’s experience was notable. This was on account of the class’ location: the Cascade General shipyard on the north end of Swan Island. It’s like a military base meets a Boeing plant, with lots of arc welding and dismembered hulls. It is also vast.
I had to wear a badge that I got from the guard station behind the sign that displays the current MARSEC level. MARSEC is currently 1. Phew. Whatever that means. The guard was pleased when I said I loved the place and wanted to take photos of it (the cavernous, hangar-like, brilliantly lit structures begged for high-resolution digital), though he didn’t have the authority to let me do so. He told me that the reason Channel Avenue was so straight there is that it follows the old runway of Portland’s original airport. A hundred feet from us was the ominous looking, catamaran-ish center parts of the Sea Fighter, an experimental Navy combat ship. It was all satisfyingly surreal.
Another curious moment happened this afternoon, when I arrived back at my office after my endorsement trip to the DMV. It took me a while to find a parking spot, and when I did: what interesting and relevant graffiti!