It’s mid-August and I feel summer fleeing. Though the weather is hardly fall-like: Right now, we have tied our record of 90F (32C) and above days, which is 24 days in a year. And summer ain’t over, I’m pretty sure we’ll break it. All these hot days have made me lethargic, and I haven’t adventured as much as I’d like.
Nor have I camped as much as I want. Let’s face it: I haven’t been in a camping mood lately. Partly because of the heat (where I end up may be cool, but I still have to get there), partly because work has worn me out, meaning I haven’t had the energy to go to further camping destinations, and partly because I’m bored of most of the stuff nearby. Now I do have a couple cool adventures planned before summer’s over. But I was honestly hoping of camping about every other week. And that’s not happening.
Take, for example, my past “weekend”. Since I don’t have real weekends off, my weekend was Tuesday and Wednesday. I had the idea of taking the bus out to the coast and camping at Cape Lookout, one of my favorite camping destinations. But by Monday night I was worn out from work, leaving me with no energy for planning or packing for a camping trip, one that I’d have to leave for fairly early Tuesday morning. So I skipped it, with the idea that I’d “do something” with my time off, but I didn’t know what yet.
Tuesday was mostly spent catching up on household things, emailing people, and zoning out. I woke up late Wednesday morning (yeah, I wish I could be one of those folks who can get up early and ride), got distracted (more emails to people, more stupid stuff on the internet), and before I knew it, it was 4pm, and it was of course 90F. But screw it, I needed to get out of the house. So I got on my bike and went.
But where to? Going to Kelley Point would be relatively easy (about 9 miles away) and flat, so I didn’t have to sweat up big hills in this heat. And the way there is mostly bike path too! Some of the path had recently been closed due to construction at the Denver Ave viaduct, but they’ve reopened it all, so now it is possible to ride the slough sidepath all the way from N Vancouver Ave westward to N Portland Road!
One of the things that shocked me about the ride was the lack of water. I knew that we are in a drought, but I had never seen the Columbia Slough so low. What was more surprising was Smith Lake, as there is no “lake” there anymore: it’s completely dried up and covered in grass and other low plants. I walked out a bit on the lakebed because it was so eerie, but the cracked surface made walking difficult. And unfortunately ATVs have found this dry lake as well, as you can see their ovious tracks on the playa. Ugh.
Onward I pressed towards Kelley Point, where I hung out for a little bit. This park is generally sparsely used, since it’s miles from the nearest house. But it’s got a beach (or two beaches, one on the Willamette River, the other on the Columbia) so there were a bit more folks here. I should have expected this: while it’s a weekday, it’s a hot weekday. And it’s after work, too. I can’t fault the appeal, since this beach also offers a bit of shade. (Broughton Beach, about 10 miles east on Marine Drive, has a bigger/better beach, but no shade.) Still, I was hoping for a little more solitude, so I didn’t hang out super long.
But I did appreciate the time I spent there. It made me wish that I got going earlier in the day, early enough so I could have spent several hours here, hanging out by the water. I’d bring more food, a book, the sketchbook, enough for me to last the day. But I would have had to get going early, something that’s hard for me to do on a lazy day. So I have to settle for a quick ride in the afternoon, right when it’s hottest. Eh.
The other thing I realized is how much I like being by big rivers. When I was in the San Juans a few weeks ago, I got jealous of those living so close to the sea, even folks in Seattle. When I got off the train at King Street Station, I could smell the salty air immediately. Portland’s as far inland as I’ve ever lived. But there’s something…serene about a big old river, something you don’t get from the ocean or sea. (Water warm enough to swim in, for one.) I wouldn’t get this feeling living in Seattle, though Vancouver BC has the Fraser on the far end of town.
I decided to move on and head into St. Johns for dinner and drinks. Along the way I ran into Timo who was leading a bike ride through Pier Park. A nice end to a nice ride.