Monday’s Meanders: More Summer Hikes and Rambles

Willamette River, Oregon

I know–more rivers and woods, what’s the deal? Since travel is limited and close to home, that’s what I see most often in Oregon. (I promise to dig into photo archives if there’s nothing more noteworthy to share next time!) Over the week-end we did a lot, though–a visit to the more urban Willamette Park along our trusty Willamette River (which flows through the center of Portland); a good work out hiking trails at Tryon Creek State Natural Area; and a long peaceful meander through Tualatin Hills Nature Park. All of it was a pleasure, a fun prescriptive action that always fills and calms us.

First off: another park by the river. Lots of people enjoying the spot (looks sparse but I seldom photograph strangers) while reading, eating, visiting with friends or family, snoozing and, always, kayaking or other boating.

Note the houseboats along the far shore–we have many on our rivers.

After a short look around the smallish park, we headed to a favorite–Tryon Creek State natural Area.

This state park offers a 650-acre-plus area with second growth forests, located between Portland and city of Lake Oswego. Many creatures live here, not the least of which are cougars that sometimes wander into our nearby city. It is a 15 minute drive to this wonderland for me. There is much to enjoy with 8 miles of hiking trails, plus 3.5 miles of horse trails and a 3-mile paved bicycle trail. Additionally, there are easy access trails with viewing platforms for those who may require smoother paths, or use wheelchairs. There are lots of huge Douglas firs, Western red cedar and hemlock, Ponderosa pines, etc. , ferns, mosses and lichens galore–and often we find wildflowers. Never enough time to try to identify such wealth of nature.

This land belonged to several Native tribes/bands, including Clackamas Chinook, the Wasco-Wishram, the Willamette Tumwater, the Multnomah, and other Chinookan peoples and more of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

We took an ascendant winding horse trail and before long I realized I’d chosen one of the steepest paths back to our starting point. Horses were not to be seen this time–though they had left plenty of evidence of their passage–and it felt wilder as we kept on. It looked more lush than when I was last there. I carried dwindling water and my shirt grew damp; the forest was permeated by late day heat. I trudged on with knowledge that this was a great exercise, and the air released its sweet and loamy fragrances of forest. We hiked two hours altogether and were fine–only tired and sweaty.

The horse trail we climbed and climbed from a deep valley.

The next day we chose a milder outing, labor-wise, and walked a couple hours in Tualatin Hills Nature Park, a half hour or more from our place. It is a stone’s throw for bustling southwest Portland suburbia. There was something extraordinary about the honeyed light making those trees golden and bright. Perhaps it’s because there are more deciduous trees than I am used to, and sunlight suffused the acreage with larger patches of sky glimpsed.

There were a number of families so we zigzagged along side paths. There are wetlands, forests and streams with 5 miles of mostly flat trails on 222 acres. Plenty to observe and enjoy. We were especially taken with the many spiders at work–did not get a good enough shot this time. (I tried to capture one in a smaller gallery picture, below, showing branches curving in an arch–a web is faintly seen as a shimmery spot mid-picture.)

Since there are extensive wetlands with boardwalks in various places–handy, and protects a lot.

Pretty lily pondso full pf the broad leaves, could not see much water!

We circled back to the nature center which has resources and staff to answer questions in healthy times. It was a bit sad to see the nature center closed up tight, as it is with other such centers due to COVID-19, as well as severely decreased staff. Otherwise, it would be a lively scene with people attending any pictures, examining various specimens, sitting and chatting outdoors. But it is what it is.

We did try out a lens that produced a kaleidoscopic effect so we could gawk at tiny succulents and lichen rather psychedelically transformed.

Behind shuttered buildings was a peaceful spot, it being uncharacteristically empty of human activity. But the breezes were refreshing, the heat more gentle in the shadiness, and birds kept singing and chattering. There are some things still right and good in this world…

Marc took several photos of me–the light was good, setting perfect. It’s a bit odd to have two here but I thought I’d use one for an updated photo of this blog’s “About” page. If you have an opinion, please note below! I prefer outdoors shots of all people–and certainly it is my favorite place to be, year after year.

Back to an ordinary suburban life with all its clamor and the anxious squash of humanity–for now. I will be outdoors tomorrow, God willing! Every day I have is a day of more mystery and beauty, a day of learning, a day of gratitude. I sure hope you find your own natural haven and absorb all the good energy and interest it offers. We need such a sanctuary even more during these hard times.

Blessings on all.

Monday’s Meander: A Seattle Visit with Sweet Returns

I have several hundred pictures of Seattle to go through (on a new computer–learning its ways but so far, much better!) but want to share a few right now. Though we go a couple times a year at least (less since my sister and brother-in-law passed plus my niece and husband relocated to Texas…) we were excited to visit. Brisk, moist sea air that can be smelled and felt on the skin while walking up and down city center’s steep hills, coupled with beauty of Pacific waters and Cascade and Olympic Mountains ; the high energy of an innovative, bustling city with unique neighborhoods; the variety of architecture, shops, cultural options–well, you get the idea. And it’s the Pacific Northwest, our beloved home, only bigger and farther north!

It was a brief meander, a refreshing three days. The photos above and below are views from our hotel 25th floor room–with a little magnification–with some loss of clarity, sorry to note. Note the ferry on Elliott Bay (part of the more vast Puget Sound) glimpsed between buildings. The famous Space Needle, left of center, built for the 1962 World’s Fair, rises above and seemingly between several skyscrapers and has an observation deck at 520 feet. Marc suspected our room at the Renaissance Hotel (excellent beds and appointments) was nearly as high–alas, we were two hundred feet lower and that was high enough…I have night time pictures to best demonstrate that in another post.

The Olympics show up more readily in the larger 4th picture, and we were fortunate to have some sunnier days so they better showed off their splendor here and there.

The beauteous Mt. Rainier of the Cascade Mountain Range, seen from the inimitable Queen Anne neighborhood, rises above the city, above. A bit dusky here–as well as misty, usually the case in winter. It is 63 miles from Seattle, but we can see it from Portland at over 130 miles without massive cloud coverage. Additional info: Mt. Rainier is 14,411 feet as opposed to “our” mountain, Mt.Hood, which is 11,250 ft. Both are enthusiastically and frequently scaled. About 10,000 people attempt to climb Rainier; 5,000 perhaps succeed. Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and last erupted in 1894.

Here are few other teasers as I work on the bulk of photos later this week. They are from a variety of sights, from heavily visited Pike Place Market to Chihuly Garden and Glass, a fascinating art museum; to random city streets and the city’s vibrant waterfront and a marvelous outdoor sculpture park. And there is even more to come in future posts. Pus, I feel better restored on every level. May I suggest that when you get rough around the edges and feel worn out, don’t take a nap–take a trip!

Monday’s Meander in Autumn’s Palette: Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Preserve

I had so many enjoyable outings over past week-end it was hard to choose just one to share today. Marc and I always look forward to roaming Steigerwald Nature Preserve in Washington and especially the fall. We had a perfect day for roaming and wildlife scouting. We were met, however, with changes in the habitat. Strewn about were large tree stumps and roots and logs, for one thing. (Slide show below for a panorama of beauty.)

We learned that this year begin a $22 million habitat restoration that will entail reconfiguring a floodplain of this Lower Columbia River area. The refuge will be reconnected to the natural ebb and flow of the mighty Columbia; 2 miles of US Army Corps of Engineers levees will be lowered to natural levee height. A major reason is to allow six species of salmon and trout as well as lamprey to better benefit. Nine hundred acres will be restored over 3 years. Placing woody debris is part of preparation and invasive vegetation management has begun. We are excited to hear of the improvements and partnerships that are involved in this huge project for supporting wildlife and for greater public viewing.

I hope you enjoy the walkabout and will visit if you can do so.

Monday’s Meanders/Photos: Portland’s Saturday Market

Photos, Cynthia Guenther Richardson 2019

Take a gander at a few of our Portland, Oregon city scenes. I had a lovely week-end hanging out in city center, so had to shoot a few views. Our Saturday Market (also on Sundays) is bustling from March til after Christmas (despite formidable rains), and our diverse citizenry are as interesting as arts/crafts and random offerings. I picked up a few birthday gifts and enjoyed the afternoon with Marc despite it being in the upper 80s Fahrenheit; it made for sweaty browsing and walking for about 5 miles around the market and along the Willamette River.

I’ve ended up with extra time to post a little more–a change since our joy-eliciting and thriving twin grand babies arrived. There’s a different baby caregiving schedule, for now. And since I don’t always (usually, though) choose written language as my main mode of creative expression, this Monday spot will be primarily photographic pieces. I do like to share shots of places roamed and views that draw eye and mind, so Monday is once more for designated for just that.

Friday’s Quick Pick: Boat Cruise on San Diego’s Bay

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Since we both love boats, a ride around North and South San Diego Bay beckoned us. Hornblower Cruises seemed the way to go. We lined up, boarded and soon plowed across deep green-blue water.

If San Diego is anything, it appears to be a boating town. Everything from various-sized sailboats, motor yachts, tall ships, small sport motorboats, dinghies, fishing boats, battleships, submarines and so on share the harbor waters. The recreational boats tantalized me more than the Naval Air Station or the history/missions/repair work of naval destroyers and frigates, but the Captain and First Mate gave very good narratives, Marc assured me as my attention drifted here and there.

We passed 50 landmarks and historic sites along the way, but I recall most of all the chug and surge, the lulling slice though vast water. There is something invigorating and soothing, both, about being on a moving aquatic craft. With that temperate breeze and clarifying sunlight, I felt carried farther than the radiant bay to a place of blithe rejuvenation. I had a moment’s fantasy of becoming a genuine, permanent boat dweller….oh, I wish! Join me in viewing many of the sights we saw.

 

We head to Coronado Bridge, 2.1 miles long and 200 feet tall. It links San Diego to a peninsula of land called Coronado Island, on which is the resort town of Coronado. The northern two-thirds of that land mass is the Naval base operations. A sailboat glides before a background of Point Loma, which juts into the into open ocean. Mexico is approximately ten miles from the bridge. We could just make out a blurry coast due to a lingering marine layer of fogginess. Along the southern coastline of the city are naval destroyers and frigates, one of which was dry-docked and being repaired. They are duly impressive. I hadn’t realized how mammoth they are, that they can hold a crew of around 6000 people. There is also a shot of a white NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) ship. I have a fascination with the weather so this compact ship excited me!

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We passed the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier, now a museum at Navy pier, is the longest serving US  carrier of the 20th century. It was also the largest ship in the world for ten years. More than 25 restored aircraft are displayed but we did not visit the museum this time.  Next comes the elegant Star of India, still in use; it also appeared in the film “Master and Commander”. My husband, Marc, is seen enjoying the salt air and  narration as we venture north (his jacket billows in the wind so that he looks a bit like “the Michelin Man”!), passing more sailboats. We slip close to contented California seals, a lone floating pelican. The two bright Navy tugboats are powerful, used to move gigantic Navy vessels. Next, inactive sailboats bob along a palm-lined shore of the North Bay.

We head back to the dock and onto dry land to explore more streets on our way to finding dinner. The public sculpture is “Pacific Soul” by Jaume Plensa, 2017; an admiring person can easily fit inside it. We later settled on Liberty Public Market out of curiosity. It has been a successfully renovated group of large–at first glance austere–buildings, once a part of a military complex. It now offers attractive shops and restaurants with courtyards. There is all manner of food in the Market and I enjoyed a dish of freshly made, varied vegetable pasta with a scrumptious marinara. (Another night, Argentinian chicken empanadas.) After the meal, we sat outside in a courtyard, chatted at the fire pit as others joined us. We thought it entirely appropriate when we read the colorful sign on a building near the fire! A good way to end our second full day of vacation.