After camping the week before, I knew that I would have a more low-key adventure this week, especially since I had things to do and social obligations on both of my days off (Tuesday and Wednesday.) The weather was a bit better on Tuesday, sun and high of 64F/18C (I wore shorts and sandals!) but it worked out better to do something on Wednesday. This day was overcast and a high around 55F/13C, more typical weather for this time of year, but it felt a tad…cold after a week of above 60s weather. (I know that all you folks in the east with highs around 5F can totally relate right now! 😉 )
I decided that my adventure would be along the bottomlands along the Columbia River, which are practically out my back-door. This area is a favorite of mine, as it hits up a lot of things on the checklist: bodies of water, good views (when clear), bike paths, natural areas (in between industry), and just the notion that one is off the beaten path. I decided to head all the way up to Kelley Point, the furthest-most point on the North Portland “Peninsula”, where the Columbia River (and Columbia Slough) meets the Willamette. It’s not particularly far, about 10 miles from my door, but because it is never on the way to somewhere (unless you get to St. Johns the very, very, very long way), I don’t go there as often as I should, the last time being in October. What better time than now? And what better bike to bring than my Raleigh Wayfarer, as a ride like this just speaks “three speed ramble!”
From my house, I rambled through the neighborhoods of North Portland for a bit, trying to stick to the streets I rarely (or never) go on, getting all the way to the Peninsula Crossing Trail by the sewage treatment plant. From here, it would be bike path in various conditions and configurations all the way to Kelley Point. Much of it was pleasant despite the skirting of industrial areas and train tracks…until I got to the few miles of bike path paralleling N Marine Drive. The Drive was busy with truck traffic, and the path has several driveway crossings, where drivers of small cars and tandem tractor-trailers alike pay no attention to anything happening on the bike path. (Yep, a couple close calls.) I often forget about how bad it can get up this way, probably because I often come out on weekends.
Thankfully the badness ended, and I was at Kelley Point Park. I ended up at the picnic table right at the confluence of the two rivers, my preferred spot. I got the Esbit stove going to make tea while listening to the radio and watching the boat traffic pass by. Or in this case, not pass by, as all West Coast ports in the US have been effectively shut down over the past week. There were several ocean-going cargo ships sitting in the middle of the Columbia, waiting for the next move. The cranes at the nearby Port of Portland terminal sat idle. The only shipping traffic moving on the river were tugs and barges. Maybe that’s why things seemed a bit more peaceful than normal? Anyways, I drank tea and ate a snack. I felt like I should have gotten down here a few hours earlier (it was about 4 pm) to linger a bit more, but the relative coolness meant I didn’t want to linger that long.
I returned home primarily along the same way I came out. But I paused at a small lake along the Marine Drive bike path, just north of Smith Lake. I had seen this nameless lake countless times before, but this was the first time I noticed that there was quite a bit of flat, grassy land on the other side of the jersey barrier. I thought this would be a great spot for a clandestine urban camping expedition, as it looked pretty and vehicles on Marine Drive wouldn’t be able to see me. Of course, there was plenty of evidence of human activity here as well, so it may not be as peaceful as it looks right now. Still, I savored the moment, then headed home.