Vancouver is actively disinterested in joining Portland's transportation grid. Twice in recent years, voters there have been asked to approve a tiny sales-tax increase to pay for a light-rail bridge that would connect them to our vast system, and twice they've loudly declined—apparently reasoning that the Blazers suck, they can catch a cab to the airport for their annual cruise and Hayden Island has all the tax-free shopping they need, thank you very much.
So how are we supposed to get to the land of Afghani Milk and Honey B until Clark County's elected leadership circumvents the will of its people and crams a 12-lane, rail-equipped bridge down their throats? Unless you want to go native—and, um, drive—here are your limited options.
Both the glamorous and totally sufficient Interstate Bridge on I-5—it's on the National Register of Historic Places—and I-205's Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge, which leads to the 'Couve's eastern hinterlands, are walkable and bikeable. The sidewalk lane on the Interstate is narrow, and you first have to navigate some sketchy areas of Hayden Island, but once you get across, it's easy to get around.
Getting to Vancouver by bus isn't easy—unless you're going during a typical workweek, when Clark County operates I-5 Express to service tax scofflaws. Other times, it will take you about an hour to make your way from downtown Portland to Jantzen Beach on the TriMet 6 Line, which goes north on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Or take the MAX's Yellow Line to the Delta Park/Vanport MAX Station and transfer to C-Tran to cross the bridge. To get any farther than downtown Vancouver, you'll need to consult C-Tran's website with a pad of wood pulp and a quill, as C-Tran isn't integrated with Google Maps. TriMet fares cover some C-Tran routes.
A taxi from the Hawthorne District to the 'Couve will set you back about $30 each way—if traffic is light.
From the Interstate Bridge, the Columbia River looks a little intimidating. Closer to the water, the whitecaps will chill your bones. If the .76-mile-wide Columbia is flowing at a rate of 8 knots, and the tide is coming in at .25 mph, at what angle should you aim your kayak and how fast should you paddle? Also, where the hell can you haul a kayak out of the water? Hmm. Better take the bus.
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