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Strikeout at the airport Wednesday, December 26, 2007

(left) The departures level of PDX is busy early in the morning Dec. 26.

Well, I was up just after 4 this morning to head to the airport to photograph and interview the Lincoln girls as they headed off to a tournament in Phoenix this week. I thought they had to be there at 5. A stalled car on Airport Way slowed things down a little bit, but I arrived at PDX at 4:55, figuring that a dozen girls probably in their team sweats would be fairly easy to find.

I must have gotten my information wrong, though. There were plenty of college and high school basketball players around—including Aarika Hughes, who used to play at Southridge—but the Cardinals were nowhere to be found. I until after 6 in case they showed up, but no dice. Maybe their flight left at 5?

(right) Aarika Hughes moves through Portland International Airport Dec. 26. Hughes, who helped Southridge High School win back-to-back basketball championships in 2005 and 2006 now plays at USC. (below) Hughes brings the ball up-court against Ashland in the 2006 state basketball tournament.

I did find something pretty cool, though, in the short term parking lot. Short-term parking at PDX is a pretty typical 3,300-space structure with a double-helix up-ramp on one side and a similar down-ramp on the other. It only costs $3 per hour, which seems pretty reasonable for an airport. But the cool part was the new system they have to help you find a parking spot.

Every stall has a little sensor above it to detect a parked vehicle. If the space is empty, green LEDs light up above the space to let you know it is available. When you park in it, they turn red. Better yet, the system feeds back to a sign at the end of each aisle that tells you exactly how many spots are available down that aisle. So you can always find a parking spot pretty quickly. Pretty nifty.