Just a couple of news items from the Oregonian I thought I’d share.
One is that the road to Larch Mountain, one of the great viewpoints in the Columbia River Gorge, is now open. The view of the Gorge and Mount Hood from up there is pretty stupendous, and it’s a great place to go see the city lights on a clear, moonless night. I think we get one or two of those each year.
The other piece of news is that the Sandy River Delta, aka Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, is closing June 11-15 so they can build a new trailhead. It’s a pretty cool place to go for a walk, and if you have a dog, I am sure you already know this.
It can be easy, when living in Portland, to forget that the Willamette is a river.
I know that sounds odd, because what else would it be, but how often do you look at that body of water downtown and think about currents, and drainages, and riverbanks, and islands? It just seems kind of like some water to get across on the way to work, right?
Well, it’s a river, and if you want to get just a little glimpse of it in that form, head out to Elk Rock Island. First you have to find tiny Spring Park in Milwaukie. It’s a nice enough place, but follow the trail into the woods. Yes, you’re headed for the riverbank. And when you get there, if the water is low enough, you can walk right out there to the island-m-across a land bridge that is thought to be 40 million years old.
See, we’re not just “in town” anymore, are we?
This little island had many owners before 1910 (one of them even built a dance hall on it) before its last private owner, a Scottish grain exporter named Peter Kerr donated it to the city with one stipulation: “Preserve it as a pretty place for all to enjoy.” Mission accomplished.
Here, within sight of homes and docks and industry, is a patch of woodlands, a small beach, a rocky bench, a cliff face, and a hidden laggon. Here are hiking trails and picnic spots, some peace and quiet, and — in winter, anyway — a waterfall across the way!
And here, rolling along as it always has, is a river, with a gentle current and birds bobbing and swooping, and, yes, an island in the middle of it.
One of the great things about writing is that it makes me go out and discover stuff.
For example, when I was writing 60 Hikes, I walked the whole Willamette Greenway Trail and found out Portland has a Butterfly Park. Bet you didn’t know that. So now I get to explore and learn more about it, so I can put it in my Peaceful Places book.
I have started on a new book called Peaceful Places in Portland, to be released in the fall of 2012 by Menasha Ridge Press. For an example of what it’s all about, check out their Peaceful Places in New York book.
Crystal Springs may not be too peaceful on weekends when the rhodies are blooming — and forget Mother’s Day! — but it’s an amazingly beautiful place. I mean, assuming you like water and trees and flowers and ducks and geese.
Peaceful Places in Portland is an idea — a quest, even. As I pursue that idea, I shall blog. And when I’ve found about 100 of them, I will make it into a book. That book will be published by Menasha Ridge Press in Fall, 2012. And it won’t be the first.
So here’s what I seek from readers: suggestions of peaceful places around Portland. The categories are Day/Overnight, Enchanting Walks, Historic Sites, Museums/Galleries, Outdoor Habitats, Parks and Gardens, Quiet Tables, Reading Rooms, Scenic Vistas, Shops and Services, Spiritual Enclaves, and Urban Surprises.
So email me some ideas, or post them as comments here, and if you tell me something I don’t know, and it makes the book, I’ll thank you in the Acknowledgements and enter your name in a drawing for a signed book.