Those of you who traveled through our blog with us during our full-time RVing years will know that we’ve spent a bit of time in Oregon. A good deal of it was spent exploring in and around Portland. So understandably our selected activities for this visit were quite different from the usual tourist itinerary. Of course, our timetable is different from that of a tourist since in the daytime hours Monday through Friday we have work to do.
Thankfully we usually have evenings free and since the days are so long (it stays light until at least 9pm) there is plenty of time for adventure. Which means we could grab dinner with Lisa and Gino, go for a walk, check out a park, or some other form of exploration. One evening we wound our way up the curvy roads to Council Crest Park. It was exceptionally sunny and even the major peaks of the Cascade Range were out from under their cloud hats. From our tall perch we could see snow-capped Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier (104 miles away). Quite an impressive view!
Weekends we mostly followed where our hobbies led, disc golf for Lance and Letterboxing for me. Okay, okay, I’ll admit that mine is more like an obsession. Thankfully, Letterboxes often serve as invitations to explore locations that we would not have otherwise known to visit. That was definitely true the morning we drove over to the Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
Driving there it didn’t seem possible that the “largest protected wetlands within an American city” (source) could exist in such an industrial area. Yet we were pleasantly surprised. Highlights of our treasure hunt included a tree recently felled by a beaver, berry-eating Cedar Waxwings, an intently hunting Great Blue Heron, sunning Western Painted Turtles, and one bright green Pacific Chorus Frog.
The trail was a bit shorter than we would’ve liked, though we still had a good time. It appears the best way to explore the wetlands would be by kayak or canoe. There is a boat launch at the far end of the parking area where we enviously watched a family get under way. Roughly 2,000 acres of calm water with tons of wildlife, right in the city. What fun that would be!
Speaking of fun, one of the area’s disc golf courses wasn’t all that far away so we headed over so Lance could play a round. I chose to wander the edges of the park and look for photo opportunities. I tried in vain to get a decent shot of a Blue Jay but he was having none of it. Since when did jays get so shy? At least the squirrels were happy to pose. It seemed like they rather enjoyed themselves. I honestly think one was laughing. At me, definitely not with me. Creeper.
On Sunday Andrew, one of Lance’s Automattic co-workers, and Andrew’s other half Leah, led us on a lovely hike in the Gorge. Our destination was the aptly named Triple Falls, which had three separate spillways. Though technically the trail itself could’ve been called Triple Falls since it wound past three scenic cascades (though beautiful I won’t include Horsetail Falls in my count since it was practically in the parking lot).
Ponytail Falls was unique since the trail took us behind the curtain of water. Up next was Oneonta Falls, named after the creek that formed it. And finally we came to Triple Falls, easily the most scenic of the day. We found a sunny little spot for lunch and were soon joined by a cheeky Least Chipmunk and a tiny salamander. Being from the Sonoran Desert, a place of little water, I’m not all that up on my salamanders; we only have one species there. Later I identified the little critter as a young Oregon Ensatina.
Like the first week of June this second week was cool (often in the low 60s) and mostly gray and drizzly. What a novel idea—a summer season that actually waits for the Summer Solstice to begin. The weekend weather was fantastic, however—sunny and 70s. What a nice reprieve from the triple digits in Tucson!
Photos: View our photographs from Second Week in Oregon.
Dates: We made these outings June 9–15, 2012.