As I type this report on Sunday night, there is still lingering snow and ice from Wednesday’s snow event around Portland. We may see a brief amount of snow overnight, then real rain starts and the daytime high adjusts to its seasonal norm of mid-40s. So we’ll have snow on the ground in the lowlands for five days. That’s a long time in Portland, since snow lasting more than 48 hours is uncommon. Last time we had snow linger this long was the storm in February 2014.
So, how was it? It was fun for a bit. I do like a couple snows a season, and it’s rare that we get “a lot”. But because the temps hover around freezing, it’s more ice than snow, which is never fun. I didn’t ride for three days. I didn’t want to risk it without studded tires, and all reports I heard was things were sketchy.
On Sunday I was itching to get back on a bike. The street in front of the house looked relatively clear, so I headed to SE to attend a holiday shinding at Rivelo. Many roads were clear, but there were still slushy/packed snow patches on some side streets. I took it carefully. The floating section of the Eastbank Esplanade path still had snow on it. Bridges freeze before roadway, eh?
I was in SE until nightfall. While the initial forecast called for a warming trend starting in the afternoon, it was still just hovering around freezing. Partially because I was having bike issues, but more because I feared more ice, I decided to take the MAX light rail back up north. Getting off at Rosa Parks I basically walked my bike the mile or so home. It was indeed sketchy again, and there were more icy patches than I cared to negotiate. But I managed.
And for me, five days of this is enough. A couple days is fun, but here in Portland where we don’t do things like plow or salt roads, it gets old fast. And I also tire of all the added layers, the application of grippy things to my boots so I don’t fall on ice when walking around, the reliance on public transit. Of course, I feel conflicted about this. I grew up in a snowier, colder climate, so I was used to this. All it took was one winter in a milder climate* to make me sick of real winter. While it took me ten years to extract myself of said real winter, since then there hasn’t been much looking back.
Or is there? I do get jealous of all the reports of snow biking and wonder if I can really hack it. And while I love Portland, I realize that it isn’t the end all be all place. As it is, I worry that in a few years I might not be able to afford to live here. And where would I move? All of the other West Coast (not real winter) cities are even more expensive than Portland. I do like the desert Southwest, but I don’t think I could hack their summers. So it might mean I have to move somewhere eastward. I don’t know if that would mean New England again, as that area isn’t exactly cheap either. But maybe the upper Midwest? I don’t know. But if I do end up in a snowier place again? I would like to bike all year. Let’s see if I can pull that off…
*During my sophomore year of high school (1990-91), I lived on the coast of North Carolina.