Portland on Foot

By Erika Nelson

When I chose to attend PSU, I knew I wanted to live on (or close to) campus.  Proximity to classes and university resources aside, living in the midst of a major metropolitan city famed for its public transportation would mean I could forgo the expenses that come with having a car.

Now that I live in student housing, I walk 95% of the time. Before last year, I’d lived in suburbs my whole life, and was lucky enough to have a car (or access to someone who did) for my daily transportation. The first few weeks I lived in Portland required a huge adjustment to my lifestyle and habits. For example, walking home in the rain carrying bulging Safeway bags taught me to pare down my weekly grocery list to the essentials so I would only need one reusable bag, allowing my other hand free for an umbrella.

There are times I wish I still had a car, like when I want to go somewhere more than a few miles away, or when the weather is extreme. However, there are definite benefits to relying on my own two legs. Walking allows me to experience parts of Portland that would be hard to do from a car, like when I pass quirky shops or snap pictures of public art. My health has improved from being more active. I’ve been able to save money on gas, maintenance, and parking passes. Road rage and driving-related stress is nonexistent. Best of all: on any given day, I see a minimum of a half-dozen dogs being walked, and sometimes their owners let me interact with them! It’s times like these when I’m glad I got rid of my car and can focus on the simple things going on around me.

My Epic Snowboarding Experience [for Beginners]

blog1 (1)  By: Xylia Lydgate

This past weekend was my second time snowboarding and I had a blast, thanks to Campus Rec’s Ski Shuttle.

I was more than ready to make a comeback from my first snowboarding experience, which involved me not having snow pants and falling down the mountain every five feet. This time I was equipped with Gore-Tex snow pants and “ButtSaver” pads, including a tailbone protector— I felt pretty invincible.

Each year the Outdoor Program at Campus Rec has a Ski Shuttle to Mt. Hood Meadows that students and anyone in the community can ride. Jake and Scarlett were our trip leaders. They did an awesome job keeping us well informed and making sure we received our equipment and passes before hitting the slopes. Additionally, our group got to skip the long lines at the rental center and get right to picking up our gear.

boarder powder

It was a beautiful day at Meadows. The sun was out, it was snowing, and the mountain was covered in fresh powder. As I skated towards the lift, I already felt a greater sense of confidence on my board. I set a goal that day to focus on learning how to turn on both my front and back edges, and how to properly break, rather than intentionally falling every time I wanted to stop.

After a few practice runs on the Bunny and Buttercup Hills, I was ready to progress to the Daisy Hill. The hills on this run are steeper and longer. I felt a rush of exhilaration down each slope. As I began to pick up speed, adrenaline surged through my veins. But the fear of taking a hard hit stuck a pin in the back of my mind.

Suddenly, I lost control.

My momentum launched me forward, sending me into a complete 360 flip, first taking impact from my knees to chest then chucking me straight onto my back. I had of course opened my mouth in shock, inviting a chunk of snow to the back of my throat. I laid on the mountain, motionless, until I regained my senses. Once I realized that had just happened, I started laughing to myself at how incredible of a fall that was yet my body was still in one piece! I was also surprised at how little it hurt— luckily the snow was extra powdery, and the ButtSaver might have helped a bit too.

If you’re a beginner like me, falling is only part of the experience and half the fun. I hope this will serve as some motivation for you to make a trip to the mountain and to never give up when learning a new skill gets frustrating. Don’t forget that the Outdoor Program Ski Shuttle is always a great option if you’re considering your next snowboarding or ski trip.

Moving to the Finer Things

Transitions. We all go through them, whether it’s moving to a new place, new school, or even a different job. My transition this new school year is finally moving out of the dorms and into a townhouse that is miles outside of downtown in Beaverton.Image

What’s the plus side of living off campus and in an actual townhouse? A kitchen! I have been able to cook something other than that $1 mac-n-cheese we college students have come to love. Having a freezer that works has been unbelievable; now I don’t have to worry about cleaning melted ice cream off the bottom of my fridge.

I had to spend $215 on a MAX pass, but it beats the $300+ for parking on campus. Also, being able to bypass Highway 26, where countless cars are just waiting for their turn to get in and out of downtown, is a benefit of taking light rail. And my rent is about $3000 cheaper than in the dorms for one year.

Living in the on-campus dorms had many advantages, too. Being able to roll out of bed and go to class within ten minutes was the best by far. Now I have to wake up a whole two hours before my classes even start, so adapting to going to sleep and waking up on time has been difficult.

I’m sure I will love my new home as the year continues; after all, I am saving a lot of money.

And the cost keeps going up

With Trimet facing a loss of up to $17 million in the next budget year, they have come up with a revenue-generating proposal that includes several changes. Many people have complained about these potential alterations and have already started planning what they’ll do to get around without having to use the MAX. Portland State University student Avery VanKirk feels that the projected increase in fare will affect his day-to-day routine. “It’s hard enough having to pay $5 every day to commute to and from school. If they increase fares, I’ll probably go back to driving” he says.

The proposal consists of changes, such as a fare increase, a transition to one-way/round-trip tickets, and the elimination of all zones, including the Free Rail Zone. Ryan Smith, a PSU student, feels that the removal of the Free Rail Zone would hinder a lot of people who make good use of it. “I know a lot of people that drive to the Lloyd Center, park there, and then jump on the MAX in the Free Rail Zone. The recession drew people to work the system, but with these changes coming up, they will be forced to find other means of transportation” Smith says.

The shortcomings in funds come during a tough economic time when many people have made Trimet their primary transportation. A fare increase would generate revenue and help avoid further service cuts, but it would also create a financial burden for people who use the bus or MAX on a daily basis, especially lower-income riders. For now, the majority of revenue-generating measures are being focused on increased fares. However, if the cost is too high, riders might stop using Trimet and inadvertently create a bigger budget problem.

What do you think about the proposal? If fares go up, will you stop riding the MAX?