Monday’s Meanders: Hark! To the Volcano!

Since most of the smoke from the terrible wildfires has dissipated for now, it is a joy to once more climb the hills, take in lungsful of fresh air and feast our eyes on the terrain. We undertook a Sunday outing at Mt. Tabor, a volcano in the city limits. Though still too dry, it was great to see the colors of life everywhere.

The Boring Lava Field, a 1-2 million years old volcanic zone, underlies Portland, OR. with 32 cinder vents and several small shield volcanoes. Portland metro area has four dormant volcanoes. Mt. Tabor, right in city limits, is not very high at 634 feet but there are still good views at top. (The towering, snow-domed Mt. Hood, 100 miles to the east of us, is on the U.S. short list of “very high threat” volcanoes. Though it hasn’t erupted for about 220 years, there was again activity in the mid-1850s; it is still monitored closely.)

A reservoir and the city below. This is a popular Fourth of July fireworks viewing spot.

Mt. Tabor has many old fir stands and other wooded areas, plus open meadows which embrace dirt and paved trails. There are three water reservoirs that a long while supplied drinking water but now are offline. These manmade lakes are still maintained for their attractive features and are a draw for visitors. Three main trails are marked; we took the Blue Trail, the longest loop at 3.31 miles. We meandered among shady trees, dry grassy meadows and on moderately demanding trails. Many other folks were reveling in blue skies and warm temperatures.

Lamp posts are located on the trails as they are open until midnight. Never have hiked that late!

Early fall cannot be denied with fallen leaves that crunched beneath our feet, the faintest cooler edge to some of the breeze. The earth smelled of fall!

Nearing the top, there are more open areas.

Please click for slideshow, below, to see the city and hills from the top.

Still near the top, the trail descends slowly to a children’s play area and a small amphitheater (not shown). This is very popular for family gatherings and picnics. There were three birthday or other parties in progress.

We headed further down the trail, then rested a bit on a slope where many were sunning and visiting. It was good to see so many people feeling peaceful and sociable–though there were those, ourselves included, who wore our masks much of the time.

Please click for a slideshow and enjoy groups relaxing–and pretty views of the water and beyond.

We wound up by the main reservoir which always intrigues me. It was a public water source for so long, yet it is lovelier that something so utilitarian–tranquil to look upon.

One last gaze over the lowest reservoir, below, and the city backdrop with foothills of the Coast Range, then home again. A perfect afternoon of gratitude for all we still have in Portland.

Monday’s (Dream) Meander: The Gem of Yachats

Ah, what a picture of simple pleasure, even innocence. And good Yachats, how I long to see you!

I am dreaming of travel, any kind of small rambles, as I remain captive indoors here in Clackamas County, OR. It has been 7 days since Oregon’s catastrophic fires began to rage closer to our home and seriously threatening the county I live in. In fact, there have been 40,000 evacuated people, many of whom have lost their homes already in this county; 500,000 in all of Oregon have been evacuated; ten confirmed deaths with a dozen more persons missing at this time in Clackamas Co. The air quality is so hazardous–Portland metro’s is reportedly the world’s worst now– we are strongly advised to not leave our homes (those who have dwellings still).

So I have not set foot outdoors yet, though our suburban city (set among woodlands) is no longer on alert to evacuate since yesterday–a small mercy. I unpacked my “GO bags” finally this afternoon, a bit uncertain but trusting our experts. The constant barrage of images and news is hard to hear and see. Below is one terrible shot of the devastation not so far away. Some fires have been contained now; many others yet burn on and spread.

(Image on left: AP Photo/Paula Bronstein. Image on right: citizen Dale Voris, from car.)

Even large areas of Oregon’s Pacific coast lands (and of course, California…) have been aflame. But I believe beautiful Yachats has remained safe and in good shape. I’ll visit there today with you via photos from a trip in 2016. Most important, too, is remembering the wonders of Oregon, and that we’ve had many bad fires each year as this is part of living in the Pacific Northwest. Just not like this conflagration of 35 fires that have ravaged 1 million acres, so far. It is inconceivable to me.

You can see I have mixed feelings: relief and worry; gratitude and some lingering fear; hopefulness and sorrow. And I keep thinking of the people whose lives have been altered beyond recognition, some lives having been lost. And , as ell, the fleeing and harmed wildlife. Someone I know heard a cougar roar outside her bedroom window in the night. Yes, we live that close to these creatures and many others.

But at least here on WordPress we can take in a breath of fresh air, even when it happens with memories sparked via pictures. I value these even more today.

The village is a favorite because it is less touristy and gentler in mood, and I am fully absorbed by nature’s charms–which is always my first and last priority when I am not in the city. But no matter where I go–like so many– I enjoy cultural attractions, shopping a bit, savoring tasty food at cafes/restaurants. A local good place for coffee, baked goods and sandwiches is the Green Salmon. Another favorite stop is Earthworks Gallery. Many favorite pieces of jewelry have been found there over the years. This village lures artists of all mediums in residence. I can see why they end up staying…

I will get back to the green and the waves and the forest trails, the wildlife and open sky. Patience, I counsel myself. Faith in nature’s remarkable ability to regenerate. Even with such glaring evidence of climate change as these fires, there remain possibilities to improve things. I know environmentalists and others are working hard on it. We must–so that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren may well inhabit and revere an earth they can yet call home territory.

Monday’s Meanders: “Wishbone” Island

Mary S Young State Park

A major wind storm is stirred up– no rain, just warm, parched winds off the Cascade Mountains east of here. This is really not the usual. This high wind warning may last for a couple of days. A red flag warning is also up for fire danger, which is usual at this time. The gusts might reach 45-65 mph. An acrid haze of smoke from fires in our many forests covers all–the fires ar not close and we hope to keep it that way. I had to shut windows before writing, as my throat was getting sore, eyes burning. We live among very tall trees, near the top of an extinct volcano; here’s hoping nothing topples!

On a cheerier note, here is an array of photos from a recent day jaunt to Mary S. Young State Park, 128 peaceful acres along the Willamette River–and rather close to our place. I love the color in these, as the day was bright and hot. Many people were enjoying family water fun. The island was something we stumbled upon as we followed a path farther than usual on our mini-hike.

We were greeted with an abundance of flowers that favor bees and butterflies as we entered.

As we headed out, someone’ small dog, at left, seemed keen to follow.

It took only about 10-15 minutes to spot water and we followed a mostly rocky shoreline. The happy voices of folks big and small were sweet to the ears–and nature’s music, as well, of birds. There were small skittering creatures, four-legged and no-legged–a snake, slugs, fish–and so many birds and dragonflies and other bugs.

Leaving this stretch of river, a family skirted us as we moved away. (Many were not wearing mass–when near water they seem to abandon them, but we place our back on whenever we note people coming close. Rather safe than sorry…)

We followed a path we hadn’t taken before when visiting and were surprised where it led.

A very small, wishbone-shaped island! We do have many in the Willamette River, just have not been to this one. More sunbathers and swimmers lounged and gallivanted–and kids romped! There was a canal, I would guess to call it, around the island.

We crossed the metal bridge to find a ramshackle sign admonishing us to follow all rules. Then we continued to the other side, a quick trip through woods and brush.

Flip through the slide show to see more of what I saw as we checked things out and headed back to the other side again.

It was another very hot day in the 90s (Fahrenheit) so it was time to head home after an hour and a half exploring.

The way back was steeper at times but mostly flatter–still good exercise as we kept the pace up.

A satisfying day in the state park! I will end with another shot of that curious pop–this was a dog run area, it turns out. We all enjoy our outings as summer comes to a slow closing in the Pacific Northwest. But when these smoky winds and fires ease up, it will be much better again…Have a good week, everyone!

Monday’s Meanders: Salmon Creek, Late Summer

Salmon Creek, WA.

This Washington State recreation area, Salmon Creek Regional Park, is a place we return to at least once a season. Being only a 30-45 minute drive from our Portland suburb, it is an easy day trip. With over 375 acres of bottomlands, wetlands and forested hills, it also has a lovely greenway with three miles of mostly paved walkways. It is peaceful although well-utilized by many visitors. (We felt safe here, though people didn’t wear masks much, which our state of Oregon has mandated–and most people wear them outdoors, too, if there are groups of people or not enough room on narrower pathways to keep 6 ft. distanced.)

We start at Klineland Pond at the edge of lush acreage–one of the few in this area with many fun features for families–and then move on to more of nature’s delights. Families and groups of friends were having a great time out there. The scents of grilled food was enticing!

An area roped off; I have seen people fishing there. I imagine that house has a pretty view, if at times a noisy one.
Below, another part of the pond.
A view from a dirt trail in the woods above the pond.

Moving on, we made frequent stops creek-side–to enjoy the beauty and to stay cooler. It was closing in on 90 degrees Fahrenheit with no clouds.

As you can see, there were stretches with few to no people. Just sunshine, too-dry grasses and bushes. Trees set away from the water looked parched. This is fire season–fires are now often breaking out in the Pacific NW and California; one can imagine how fast this would burn–a sobering fact. It was very dusty and the air fairly crackled with dryness.

So, back to the creek and shadier areas. My water was getting low in my bottle–I need a bigger size I can carry comfortably. A visit to REI (outdoor gear) is due.

Marc debating whether or not there are any good rocks to find.

As I was snapping away, a family edged out from brush to wade with their grateful dog. I was feeling a bit envious–next time, I’ll come ready to take a dip, perhaps!

Pardon my turned back but I am hot and thinking: soon, a tall, super-chilled iced tea
Heron observing us observing it.

Back on the walkway, we headed for our car, waving to youthful skateboarders gliding along and stopping briefly by a women’s softball game–with a few folks watching. I felt for those athletes–but good for them!

After a last look about, the afternoon came to a pleasing end: off to find Marc a vanilla sweet cream cold brew and for me, an iced Passion Tango herbal tea. Heavenly day.

Monday’s Meander: A Day with Dahlias

What an afternoon out in the country! Flowers are always worth a half hour drive–and braving a strong bathing in August sun. And dahlias are one of my favorite summer garden offerings.

But I hadn’t ever been to a strictly dahlia farm, so what a pleasure to see the varieties and spectrum of color. I was amazed by the intricate, varying designs of petals and bloom sizes, as well as rainbow of hues. Dahlias look so beautiful and yet hardy, stems strong and topped by bright faces, camera-ready.

The white ones above struck me…they proudly thrust toward the sky. They seemed valiant, large flowers a bright yellow- white, swaying a bit in soft gusts of breeze–so at ease amid the strife in our world.

Long views of the 35 acres of this flower-producing farm were gorgeous, as below.

Moving among the rows, one is aware that life is far more wondrous than we can imagine at times. We decided to browse a smaller show garden area, as well as check out the gift shop area. A nice group of folks milling about, families having a good time. I got a couple bunches of blooms, too.

Some of the blossoms are showy and gigantic.

After over an hour of wandering, it was starting to feel a bit steamy…and I sought shade.

Marc thought better of entering–not enough room to socially distance. I sort of wanted that Bless Our Home outdoor mat, but it was pricey, anyway…!
Below, an angel, saints and a maiden for your garden guardians.

That wrapped it up for a wonderful afternoon outing. We will return!