The calendar says it’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and here in Portland, it definitely feels it. It’s been nice and sunny the last few days, highs around 60F/16C. It’s that type of weather that just makes you want to be outside as much as possible, before the novelty wears off. Don’t get me wrong, I spend a lot of time outside in summer, there’s just something about the first month of good weather that demands action. And while many crow about Daylight Savings Time (and I don’t like losing the hour of sleep), it is nice to have “extra” daylight after work.
This is the feeling that gripped me after work on Saturday. I raced home to Woodlawn from SE and grabbed my preferred outdoor coffee making apparatus, my Esbit coffee maker. Where to go? I could go over to Woodlawn Park, just a half-mile away. But being where I am living now I have some other choices, and I want to explore them more because there’s no telling how long I’ll be living up here before I decide to plant roots in another district.
So I rode a short distance over to Farragut Park in North Portland to make coffee and listen to NPR on my solar radio. There are many nice parks in Portland, and Farragut ain’t bad. But Farragut is “off the map”, so to speak. On the very north edge of Portland before it drops off into the industrialized bottomlands along the Columbia, Farragut provides some good views of the mountains to the north like St. Helens. Of course, it’s hemmed right up against Union Pacific railroad tracks and that industry that I was talking about. But I like watching trains, too. And Farragut is never a busy park, so it was easy to find an empty picnic table to set up my coffee making station. Compare that to say Laurelhurst, which would be choked with people on a nice Saturday. (I don’t need to go there to know that.)
The only issue with where I set up camp was the picnic table was in the shade. 60F is nice…when you are in the sun. In the shade it doesn’t feel so warm. So it was time to move on. I was getting hungry so I picked up a burrito then head out to the bluffs above the Willamette in North Portland. Here the gentle plateau of North Portland drops dramatically and steeply, with an elevation of about 100-150 feet above the river. This is a great spot to watch the sun set.
The default option for most folks is to go to the “Mocks Crest Property”, or popularly known as the Skidmore Bluffs since it’s at the west end of N Skidmore Street. This was once a “secret” location, but now it seems like most of the city comes here to watch the sun set, especially the young and hipster. I don’t feel like competing for a square foot of space against what could literally be a couple hundred people in a “park” barely a couple acres in size. So I end up going to the “Horseshoe” for want of a better term. It’s a swath of parklike land where N Willamette Blvd makes a big horseshoe curve just south of Rosa Parks. Much more open, and much less crowded. When I got there, there was a party of a half-dozen hipsters under the dead madrona tree (which I call Rivendell Ridge), and some scattered other folk. A few people played with their dog on the land just underneath the bluff. I don’t think this is officially an “off leash” area, but this place doesn’t feel like it’s officially anything other than open space that couldn’t be developed.
I dove into my burrito while listening to classic rock radio. I read a book while I waited for the sun to go down, occasional hoots and hollers from the hipster party to break the calm. I saw many a cyclist riding along Willamette, a few “packs” of folk, laden with panniers, heading to some other destination on the Peninsula. A party? Bonfire at Kelley Point? Everyone wants summer to be here, and is acting like it. Myself included.
The official sun set was 7:24 pm. Because of the West Hills, the sun actually set here about 7:10 pm. Soon after the rays of solar energy went behind those mountains, I started to feel chilly again. As I said, 60F is nice when the sun is warming your body. I packed up my gear and rode the couple miles back to my house.
There’s going to be a few more nice days, then the rain will return for a bit. Then it’ll be nice again.