The Palm Tree Ride Report (21 Jan 2018)

Hello folks! I had a pretty darn successful Palm Tree Ride on Sunday. Despite an unpromising forecast, seventeen people showed up! And thankfully, the weather wasn’t as bad as it could have been. There was light rain at the beginning that tapered off. Eventually we even saw the sun! Compare that to the last time I did the ride in 2015: We got a whopping 1.8 inches of rain that day. That ride was not a fun ride to be on, unless you like being soaked to the bone within five minutes.

Anyways, I designed this ride to be a replay of the “greatest hits” of previous rides, especially the first couple I did starting in 2005. So nothing was unfamiliar to those who had done it before, but since I had new folks, it doesn’t matter. Plus, these stops were always great destinations!

What did matter is two driving reasons I decided to bring the ride back from the dead. The first is the media. There’s a documentary crew I’ve been talking with for the past couple months, who are documenting palm trees in Portland. So I decided to do another ride so they could film it. (So vain, yes! 😉  )

But there’s also a bigger reason: The last stop features Sean Hogan’s house on NE 11th at Knott. Sean is the owner of Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island. His house is an oasis of palms and other exotic evergreens. It was featured on the very first Palm Tree Ride back in 2005, and I’ve stopped here one or two times since then. But Sean has decided to put his house on the market. So this could very well be the last time I could take a Palm Tree Ride here, because the new owners may not be cool with people wandering around their back yard, or…they may even do the unimaginable! So now or never.

The ride was just about seven miles, winding through inner SE and NE. After the ride, half the folks went their own ways, while the other half retired for food and drinks at the nearby Hophouse.

Will I do another Palm Tree Ride again? Maybe. I don’t think I’d bring it back as a regular, annual thing. I did that for ten years, and got burnt out. But I may bring it back sporadically, when the need or desire arises…



Yes! Meet me at 11 AM tomorrow, Sunday January 21st at Five Points Coffee, SE Division and 35th Place. I will promise a ride under 10 miles exploring the palms and other interesting trees in SE/NE. I can’t promise that we’ll be dry, so come prepared!

Palm Tree Ride returns! Sunday January 21st.

Yes, three years ago I said I was done with the Palm Tree Ride. After 10 years of doing it annually, I had “lost the passion”, so to speak.  I’m not one for perpetuating traditions “just because”.

But never say never again!

I’ve decided to bring it back at least for 2018, mostly due to a couple personal reasons that I won’t divulge here, but you can learn about them if you come on the ride!

On Sunday January 21st at 11 AM, meet me at Five Points Coffee Roasting on the corner of SE Division St and 35th Place. Grab some coffee and food inside, we leave at 11:30 AM. Expect a social paced, easy cruise of 10 miles around the city, checking out palm trees and other exotic/interesting evergreens. We do stop frequently, so if you are one of those people who get antsy (or have children who get antsy), this may not be the ride for you.

We’ll end near transit and a spot to get food and adult beverages.

Will I do another Palm Tree Ride after this one? I don’t know for sure, we’ll see if I get the spark back after this year! So maybe you should skip your midday plans for Sunday January 21st and come along!

Coffeeneuring 2017, Ride 6: Moto coffee? Sun 5 Nov

Yep, I cancelled my originally planned Chehalem Range Ramble because the weather forecast was fairly dire. And true to form, it ended up being not that bad after all. Maybe a sprinkle, a temp around 50F/10C. Oh well, I do know of a few folks who went out and did some form of the Chehalem Ramble after all, so all was not lost. And honestly, after a tough work week and working until 10 PM on Saturday, I’m glad that I didn’t wake up early, hustle on the MAX, and do a 40 mile ride with about 2,500 feet of cumulative climbing.

What I did instead was a bit more mellow. After spending the AM around the house, I departed the Holland House around 1:30 with a general objective of heading west through the Peninsula. First, I aimed north towards my favorite bottomlands of the Columbia Slough. Oh slough, you are so peaceful, and so close. The first bit of exploration was along the levee on the north side of the slough just east of NE MLK Blvd. This is technically “off limits” to public use, but that gap in the fence is so damn wide due to years of use and abuse, ain’t no stopping no one. The first bit was a rough grassy track, then the inexplicable orphaned paved path behind FedEx, awaiting a linkage to a network that may be decades in the making.

I descended down from here and made a beeline (relatively speaking) to one of my favorite spots down here, the Columbia Children’s Arboretum. The gist behind this random park is to have a state tree from all 50 states. I don’t know if that ever happened, but I do know that my home state of Connecticut is represented with a White Oak. (It also happens to be the State Tree of a bunch of other states too, but did they have The Charter Oak? No!) Of course, all the (deciduous) trees were at peak poppin’ now, so a great time to be down here.

I kept heading westward along the Columbia Slough path, which sits on the north side levee above the slough. While it had remained dry and off/on sunny, the stiff west wind was not exactly fun, and made it feel a bit colder than it probably was. I paused at the bridge over the slough by the wastewater treatment plant, watching a UP freight pass by in the distance, and hoping for a heron to pop out of the water.

So it was definitely time for coffee. My original hope was to try Willamette’s End Coffee on N Lombard, since it was a cafe I had never been to before. And also, a cafe on N Lombard as well. I commented a few years back about how N Lombard was one of the few long avenues in Portland to be bereft of coffee shops. That’s been changing over the past few years. But unfortunately Willamette’s End closed at 3 PM and I was too late. I could just go to Cathedral Coffee, a great place, but I’d been there before. Is there another new-to-me cafe? I did a search and found a few in St Johns, Portland’s farthest-flung North neighborhood (and own city at one point.) One piqued my interest: 2 Stroke, a two-wheeled themed cafe, albeit around motorcycles. They promised some interesting coffee drinks and food trucks in back. Why not?

I rambled further west, trying to find some great off-the-beaten path streets. And I definitely found one on the north side of St Johns, N Seneca St. Most of it was in some form of unpaved, yes! (I even passed by a chicken coop.) I found myself at 2 Stroke around 3:30. Normally I go for a tried and true “house”/drip coffee, but they had an interesting menu of specialty drinks. I got a “Vermont” which was espresso, white chocolate, maple, and cinnamon. Delicious, especially with a marionberry hand pie!

And then it was nightfall, so early with Daylight Savings Time done. I got some food, drank some beer, headed home. It was cold now, around 40F/4C. Winter is on its way…

Ride Report: East Portland Cemeteries, 29 Oct 2017

Fun fact: I get a lot of “crazy” ideas for bike rides, but only do a fraction of them. And when I throw out something that’s a bit off the beaten path, a bit eccentric, I wonder if anyone is going to show up to these things. So it’s always a pleasant surprise when people do.

And that’s what happened on Sunday October 29th, with my tour of four different pioneer cemeteries on the east side of Portland. My starting point was a bit out of the way: Parkrose Sumner Transit Center. Yes, this goes against the conventional Portland bike fun wisdom of starting your ride in a central location, but where else to start an out-of-the-way ride than an out-of-the-way place? (And it’s a light rail station, so it’s not exactly “hard to get to”.) We had a total of eleven people for the ride! It didn’t hurt that it was a pleasant day, sunny and 60F/16C.

The first stop was Columbia Pioneer Cemetery, aka Parkrose Cemetery, a mere tenth of a mile from the station! Like all the cemeteries we visited, this one was started in the mid-nineteenth century by the pioneer families who settled the area, then got transferred to government supervision in the mid-twentieth century. The graveyard was just a couple acres, so we walked around checking out the place.

Stop 2 was Powell Grove Cemetery at NE Sandy Blvd and 122nd. This one acre plot has the misfortune of being in a traffic circle, so I’m sure most people zip by without even noticing it! Like all the other graveyards on the tour, actual information is scant, so I couldn’t give any grand tour with stories, I just let everyone look around.

Then came the long stretch without a graveyard stop, about 10 miles. While there are plenty of pioneer cemeteries on the east side, they are not all close together. We broke up this section with a stop at the brand new park off of NE 122nd and Fremont, Luuwit View Park and a break at Jet Black Coffee at NE 111th and Halsey. (A vegan coffee shop in Gateway? Yes!) Then a bit of “rough stuff adventuring” as there are quite a bit of unpaved/unimproved roads out this way.

Finally, as the sun grew lower in the sky, we hit Cemetery No. 3, Multnomah Park Cemetery at the corner of SE 82nd and Holgate. This was the largest graveyard of the tour at 9 acres, and the one most people knew about. It also featured a small mausoleum, the only one we saw on the ride.

And then we headed north to the final stop, Brainard at NE Glisan and 90th. Another tiny plot (one acre) and on a rise above busy Glisan, so not noticed by most. This one featured a few veterans of the Civil War. It was dark at that point, and we all went our separate ways.

I had a lot of fun on Sunday, and hopefully everyone else did as well. I might do another East Portland Cemeteries Ride at some point (next Halloween?) but may mix it up with different ones…

You can see all the photos over here on flickr.


Chehalem Range Ramble may not happen this Sunday…

Yes, the weather forecast for Sunday is not looking good. And doing the Chehalem Range Ramble in wet and cold conditions is not fun, especially since there are few bail out points and/or places to warm up. Heck, there could even be a li’l snow at the top, just like it was when we last did it in February.

I’ll have the final decision Saturday. Don’t worry, if it doesn’t happen this Sunday, it will happen at some point!

East Portland Cemeteries Ride this Sunday October 29!

Yes friends, the next Urban Adventure League ride will happen Sunday October 29 at 1:30 PM. Come explore at least four and possibly five different East Portland Cemeteries with me!

Meet at Parkrose Sumner TC (near “the bridge”), we’ll depart at 2 PM on a 12 or so mile ride exploring at least four and maybe five different and lesser known cemeteries along the spine of 1-205, and also a brand new park! We’ll also have a quick coffee stop about five miles in.

This ride is more about the ride and checking out things. Don’t expect an immaculate and exquisitely detailed tour at each cemetery, I don’t have all that. (If you want that, I hear they do a good job at Lone Fir.😉) Expect a lot of places you haven’t been before! And yes, ride not a loop but ends near transit. I’m going to get food and beer at the end, maybe you will too?