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…