We started on the west side of the Columbia River in Washington State one hot afternoon. We had headed to a nature preserve but found it closed, so when we went on, seeking a different area. We found a small parking lot that with access to a walkway by the river. Since we’d not been on this southern part of the the river walk, we checked it out.
There is a reason why we hadn’t intended to stop there. The Captain William Clark Park (of Corps of Discovery, 1806–though we know Native Americans resided there…) is by a small city, Camas, so lots of people traverse that part of a very long, winding walkway. And we enjoy nature with far less people. But any river calls to me–I’ll stop at small or big ones, with or without parks or any path. Columbia River is one I deeply admire, am fascinated by–no matter how many times I visit it. At 1240 miles, starting in British Columbia and emptying into Pacific Ocean after flowing through seven U.S. states… mammoth. It also holds one third of our potential hydropower, so what a resource.
The photos attempt to share its softer nature that afternoon, and how people were enjoying it. We came to Cottonwood Beach which I did not photograph much; it was packed, to our surprise in this pandemic, and we avoided huge groups of friend and family gatherings–but they were having a pleasant time in the unusually warm sunshine.
It is hard to describe how big and deep and restless this river is. The often strong winds were were rather still; the water surface fairly calm. But when I see the boats out there with fisher persons, I wonder if they ever feel intimidated by the mighty currents that occur, the breadth and width and depth of it. It is one of the biggest rivers in the U.S. flowing by Portland as well as Vancouver, WA. metro. There has been. alas, flooding occasionally…
First the pandemic hit Portland as it has everywhere (though less heavily-so far-than many big cities). Over the past few days nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd of Minneapolis have occurred in many major cities and in Portland. Curfews are again in place. It is a time of even increased sadness, anger and anxieties. This blog is not about current events or politics but I have intense feelings accompanying my thoughts about the current state of it all. However, I do write about and post photos of the metropolitan area. Today I need to offer photos that reflect more peaceful, happy spring and summer days. It is an energetic, creative, open-armed city that I have known and loved most of my adult life….I hope it stays this way, but can at some point heal and become even better.
On Saturday we returned to a place we explore each season, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. The riparian forest, wetlands, and lowlands comprise over 1800 acres that are home to over 200 species of birds, 50 of mammals, 25 of amphibians and reptiles and a large assortment of insects, fish and plants.
We had our ears attuned to birdsong as eyes sought out critters among lush greenery. We heard more than saw wildlife–a snort of a black tailed deer, the sleek fat body of a river otter, the rustlings of perhaps a snake through the tall grasses. I was hoping for a bobcat but have never seen one, and may have sighted a coyote and beaver.
It was a peaceful mosey among groves of old great white oak trees, which support 800 kinds of creatures there. We missed the bigger groves but there are many other trees to enjoy along the paths. Small lakes amid the wetlands were luminous, dramatic as the sky darkened and brightened with sunshine alternating with rain clouds. The river itself was hidden much of the time–several areas are off-limits to humans to protect migrating birds.
Rain became a fickle companion, the sky feeling low and then high again.
Rain increased but it was a mild day and we are Oregonians…we kept on. At the end of our walk, the small lakes and swooping vocalizing birds captivated me. I could have set up camp there right through dusk and nightfall.
Clouds scudded off; the landscape flushed with honeyed light once more.
It was a soothing while also stimulating afternoon, and I always feel happy photographing nature. We will return when more paths are opened to our eager feet.
I could make up a song about all the rivers I love! Once more to the Willamette River, a safe place to walk about during these times and partake of a good variety of beauties. This is the Foothills park area. It is a quieter river southwest of Portland without the big ships, though we have seen seals swim up here.
I became, to my surprise, 70 over the week-end! Despite not being able to go to a favorite beach cottage in Yachats (OR.) or Cannon Beach as we often have this time of year, we enjoyed our meanders nearby. I do miss traveling, however, modest. Next week’s post I will share Yachats as it truly is awesome there. Meanwhile, I hope you can feel Spring’s peaceful breezes off the water if only in your imagination. And one day perhaps you can visit Portland area and find our many great rivers for yourselves. One reason I love it here are the various bodies of water. Enjoy.
For some reason I have lately been having problems downloading iPhone photos to my Dell laptop. These few show a small array from the wonderful walk yesterday as it edged towards mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit. There were more shots of people fishing, of flowering bushes and 6+ feet tall graceful grasses and others… In any case, I am grateful we could get out and enjoy this. About a quarter of the sparse number of walkers had masks on. There was plenty of room to keep our distance–a little lonely for this time of year. Many cyclists of all ages sped by. Heartening to see kids on their bikes having fun.
Such a relaxing couple of hours outdoors! Spring perhaps means more than ever.
It was less empty than it appears…but in ordinary times, this area would be full of folks barbecuing (there is a covered picnic area just left of photo) and gathered in groups to chat. There were several dog walkers (I didn’t want to intrude upon snapping a pic) and a few couples and families on pathways alongside the water. We all found the relief of beauty and other peaceful moments, as well as friendly nods or greetings as best we can.
Until next time–be safe, stay connected to others, keep nurturing hope and spread small kindnesses.