Run #9 – Vancouver, Washington

Vancouver has a bit of a bad reputation, and rightly so. With it’s eastward urban sprawl, conservative undercurrents in public policy, and thousands of daily commuters screwing up traffic for those of us in Portland – well, there’s a reason we call it “Vantucky.” I was born and raised there for the first 18 years of my life, and my parents still reside there, so I can openly have this opinion.

But ok, things have been turning…a bit. My run today is a good example. I had a morning meeting and wanted to squeeze in a run between visiting my dad – but considering that you have to alter your entire life around the northbound traffic, I decided to shoot over early and run along the waterfront.

Back when I was in high school, the Columbia River waterfront wasn’t exactly a classy spot. It was a place to drink underage along broken pieces of concrete and strategically avoid transients. Today, all of that is still possible, but with the addition of a bunch of condos and a few waterfront restaurants, it’s the stomping grounds for many old white people. Now, you can sip a mojito under a patio umbrella and watch the garbage barges blithely sail by.

The paved trail goes about 1.5 miles from the restaurants down to the bottom of the Interstate Bridge. Once you cross that barrier and hit the train tracks, all bets are off and you get an awesome view of the old Thunderbird Hotel across the way that was burned down years ago and never rebuilt, as well as some older (and sketchier) parts of town.

Much to my surprise today, the beachfront area has been totally cleaned up. What was once muddy sand, littered with broken bottles and cigarette butts was now totally clear of debris; and you used to have to weave your way through blackberry bushes but now many of the bushes have been cleared with a paved path directly down to the beach.

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It was 81 degrees and I hate running in the heat so I took it slow, snapped some pics, and went from one end down and back again; the transients were still pushing their shopping carts, but they were also surrounded by families hunting for Pokemon.

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When I initially made the goal to run in 12 different cities, The Couve wasn’t exactly on my radar – but today’s run was a place I would never normally go and it’s in a completely different state, so I’m counting it. That being said, I kind of missed the days of eating McMenamins french fries among the broken bottles and concrete debris. You can take the girl out of The Couve, but you can’t take The Couve out of the girl, I guess.

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