Trying to be in the moment: A ramble to Kelley Point Park, 12 Feb 2018

Things have been a little stressful here at the Urban Adventure League HQ. At work, we got a new reservation system that I’m still trying to figure out. In my personal life, I have a lot of projects to tackle.

Like most fully employed “regular job” folks, I get two days off a week, typically on Sunday and Monday. While I’d love nothing more to just go ride or do something fun on my weekends, sometimes I just gotta take care of business. This is where I found myself this past Sunday and Monday. There were the prospects of going with  Emee to the coast or bike camping with my friends*, if I didn’t have to work on Saturday. (Oh, to have a regular weekend again!)

Sure, I could have made my own adventure, like go camp alone, but 1) lonely 2) dark and 3) cold.** Plus, I have some big travel plans coming up in March, where the first three weekends of the month consist of going out of town. So I’d feel guilty about goofing off for the weekend when I have so much I want/need to do and so much travel coming up. Now is time to get shit done.

On Sunday I attempted to put my nose to grindstone. I did get a few things around the house done, and worked on a bit of bike stuff. But not nearly as much as I wanted. Of course I was looking out at that blue sky taunting me all day…

Monday came and I decided I needed to do a little bit of riding, because I felt like I was getting nowhere fast. It was another sunny and mild (50F) day, but there was a good east wind, so riding east to the Gorge didn’t sound tantalizing. I’d like to get up to Powell Butte again, but the day was waning, so I went with the tried and true: Down to the Slough. I hadn’t been all the way out to Kelley Point Park in a while, why not now? And I haven’t done a true solo Coffee Outside adventure in a bit, so what better time to pull out the Esbit coffee machine?

The bike I’d be using for this ramble is the Robin Hood. I’ve been riding it a bunch in the two months since I got it built up. I really like riding it a lot, but I still need to tweak some things. I got around to fixing the rear flat from the week previous, and also reinstalled a bag support that I hadn’t been having much luck with. I wanted to give it one more shot. Normally, I use the Carradice Nelson Longflap bag with this bike, but with all the supplies I wanted to take (coffee kit, a bit of lunch, an extra layer for when it gets cold later, my sketchbook and other implements), it was a bit much. So I got the larger Camper Longflap and it absorbed everything. I hit the road.

That’s when things went a bit south.

Immediately when I sat on the saddle, the nose of the Brooks tilted upwards dramatically. This was the problem I had with the bag support before, since all the weight of the bag was attached to the back of saddle (vs. saddle and seatpost when not using one.) I made sure that the bracket attaching saddle to seatpost was as tight as possible, but it still didn’t stop the nose up. I rode a few miles down the road since the day was waning and I wanted to “keep the momentum”, damn the discomfort.

I got about five miles in and took a break at the picnic shelter by Smith Lake. I decided to take the bag support off, since that should mitigate most of the “upward nose” Brooks issue. And it did, but it of course caused another issue: the bigger, laden bag rested up against the rear brake cable. causing the brake to drag.*** (It hadn’t done this with the Nelson (or as much) since the bag is smaller.)****  The four miles to Kelley Point felt draggy, like I was facing a headwind (even though it was a tailwind.) I didn’t realize what was happening until I got to Kelley Point.

I was a bit frustrated. I know that Any Bike Ride is good, and I should enjoy the moment. But it’s hard to do this when frustrations like this cloud the experience.  I started thinking about All The Things I’m Putting Off Because I’m On A Bike Ride. Sure, I need to take care of my mental health and do things like this for myself “because”. But I couldn’t think about all of that at the time.

Thankfully, there was no issues with the coffee making. And things were beautiful at the point in that brilliantly clear February day way. There were quite a few people enjoying the park on a Monday afternoon, so much that it made me think Washington’s Birthday was today, not next week. The mountains were out and dazzling. And I got to see two bald eagles–two!–fly overhead. So it wasn’t all bad, but it was hard to think that while in the moment.

No matter which way I went, I was a ways away from home. So I decided to head back home via St. Johns in order to get some dinner and maybe a beer. The ride was still a bit draggy, but since I knew what was up, I didn’t mind as much. I just know I need to tweak things a bit more.

*Yes, in February!

**No, not as cold as most of the country, but we did see our first frost in over a month Sunday night. My equipment could handle it, but that long night alone would be daunting, unless I sprung for a cabin.

***It’s a steel rim, so no worries about “wearing out the rim” by this.

****Remind me why I like these saddlebags so much again? 😉

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Riding Back Towards Wellness

It’s been a quiet week around here. That’s because I’ve been sick. I started feeling ill on Tuesday the 9th. It was the classic flu, with all its classic symptoms like headache, aches, cough, congestion, fever, nausea.

I spent a few days primarily in bed, not necessarily sleeping, but in that sickly in between state, wallowing in my own sense of despair and melancholy. I thought I was well enough to go to work one day, but really wasn’t so it probably pushed me back more than help. Each day started out with me being the same sick I was the day before. I started to wonder: Would I ever get better?

Of course, things like the flu typically end, and Sunday saw me turning the corner. I still wasn’t healed, and felt a bit blah, but it was a marked improvement. Things started to feel positive. If there’s one thing I can appreciate about sickness is how you feel–not just physically, but mentally and spiritually–one it starts to subside. I wanted to enjoy life again, be out in the world.

Now I wasn’t going to go overboard. But I wanted to go outside. It didn’t hurt that the weekend was a real nice one, sun and temps in the high 50’s F, very springlike. Why not go for a bike ride?

I decided to roll down to the Slough, since it was close by. And if I started to feel down, I could get home quick. The ride was nothing new or spectacular by my standards, but a good soul-affirming ramble. I hit up favorites like Columbia Children’s Arboretum, the little slough by Heron Lakes Golf Course, the path and bridge by the wastewater plant. The mountains were resplendent in snow and there were other folks enjoying nature.

I rolled home right around dark, after stopping by the market. My Robin Hood doesn’t have a cyclocomputer, and I don’t use Strava, so I didn’t keep track of distance while riding. But mapping it later, I realize that I did about 17 miles! Wow! A bit more than I thought I was doing–and probably a few miles more than I should have, owing to my health. But I survived with no adverse effects.

I’m still getting over this sickness, but it won’t be long before I can enjoy life to the fullest again.

An optin’ outside, givin’ thanks kinda ride: Mon 27 Nov

Last Thursday (November 23) was Thanksgiving in America. For most, a four day weekend, a time to travel home and/or eat lots of food. For others, the start of the holiday shopping season. It’s become a big thing over the past couple years to buck the whole waiting-in-line at midnight for doorbusters by #optoutside. Y’know, don’t go shopping, do something outdoors instead. I get it, but it somehow feels a li’l smug to me, especially when I get bombarded by everyone’s “rad adventure” photos on Saturday.

And why is that? Well, since I work in hospitality, I don’t get things like four day holiday weekends, even for Thanksgiving. In fact I work most Thanksgivings and Black Fridays. I can’t do the crazy awesome adventures. At best, I can hope for a little something.

And a little something was what I was hoping for on Friday morning (November 24.) The weather was nice, and there was a late-edition Coffee Outside near my house. So I hoped to do a little ride on the way to work at 3. That all got thwarted when I got a bit of a head cold on Thanksgiving night. So no optin’ outside that day. Nor the next several days, since I was still sick, had to work, and the weather got crappy.

But Monday November 27 turned out pretty okay. I had a little bit of time off, so I decided it was now or never for a bike ride. And I was jonesin’ for something, since it had been awhile. Quick and easy was the order of the day, so I headed down towards the Columbia Slough. First stop, Columbia Children’s Arboretum, a fairly obscure and secret spot of woodsy solitude, theoretically featuring every state tree. I had been down here a month ago, and the leaves were mostly gone. This time, I decided to take the path closer to a slough side channel vs. the main route through the arboretum.

I winded my way out of there and westward until I hit Smith and Bybee Wetlands. Smith Lake was full of water and geese, and the rapidly setting sun shone through the alder forest that lined the banks. Another peaceful moment.

Kelley Point Park was just a few miles away, and there was still daylight, but I didn’t feel like going that far, especially since it was becoming rush hour and the traffic would get bad.* Only if I left earlier, oh well. I headed southward, crossing the Slough at the ped/bike bridge by the treatment plant. I steered for St Johns for food and drink. I soon realized that St Johns on a Monday isn’t the best idea, as it seemed like half the restaurants were closed. Still, I found a great Indian place, and got a drink elsewhere.

I’m really thankful that I have spots like the Children’s Arboretum, Smith and Bybee Wetlands, and other lands around the Columbia Slough close at hand. All I need is an hour or more to unwind and recenter, and I can easily do this with just a couple hours left of daylight on an almost-winter day.

*While there’s a “bike path” that goes all the way there and almost into St Johns, it’s really an overglorified sidewalk with lots of driveway crossings.

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…

Slough Country Ramblin’, 14 May 2017

Originally I was supposed to head out to the east side of the Columbia River Gorge for a ride on Sunday. But this was going to be a carpool type affair with folks I didn’t know. And I got the word on Friday that fitting my bike was a “maybe”. Plus, the meet point was ten miles from my house, at 7 am. I said, nevermind, I’ll try it again some other time.

The initial weather forecast for Sunday May 14 was crap,* but something remarkable happened: Around noon the rain stopped and the skies cleared up a bit. Nice weather for a bike ride.

I decided to pull out the ol’ three speed, my trusty Raleigh Superbe. This was also the same weekend of the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour. After going for three years in a row, this was the first year since I started going that I wouldn’t make it. I’m a bit bummed about this, but honestly, I’m not as bummed as I thought I’d be. Well, if I couldn’t be physically in the Midwest, at least I could be there in spirit!

It seemed as appropriate as ever for a nice little ramble down into the lands of the Columbia Slough, especially since I have an upcoming ride down here. What better time to test that route than now!

First stop was Columbia Childrens Arboretum to eat my lunch. This obscure park was peaceful (and a bit muddy) on this Sunday afternoon, just the hum of industry in the background. That’s the ultimate irony of the lowlands of the Slough: One moment you are in a forest of cottonwood and alder, or next to a peaceful pond. The next moment you’re near an auto wrecking operation or trucking company.

Further on, I took a pause by that secret slough by Heron Lakes Golf Course. Parking the Superbe against a pine, I had a postcard perfect scene. Nevermind that I-5’s roar is just less than a mile away, and quite audible.

I rambled further down the Slough trail. The bike/ped bridge across the Slough by the wastewater plant is open again, so good news. But I decided to press on. The water in Smith Lake was quite high. I made it all the way to the “edge of the peninsula”, Kelley Point Park, where the Willamette and Columbia meet. The rivers ran high here as well, swelling with spring rains, obscuring most of the sandy beaches.

I rode back towards town, using Marine Drive towards St Johns. The busy freight route was quiet this Sunday, but there were still trains a’moving and other things humming. St Johns was quiet. I got a couple slices of pizza for dinner, then a drink, and headed back home.

As I’ve said before, I’m not totally in love with living all the way out on the edge of NE Portland. But having the lands of the Columbia Slough so close by is a big perk. I can get to peaceful nature settings in a little over a mile by bike. I wouldn’t be able to do that in many other parts of town. And I can’t take that for granted.

*If I did go on the original Gorge ride, the weather would be nicer, since it was on the drier side of the mountains.

Pedalpalooza coming! Here’s what the Urban Adventure League (and Society of Three Speeds) has in store.

pp2017fullposter_DONOTPRINTYes, my friends, Pedalpalooza, Portland’s annual celebration of bike fun, is just around the corner. This year, it’s all of June! Which I’m not super stoked about, as I feel it’s just a bit too long. But whatever. (And I’ll be gone for a good chunk of the first half, due to bike tour.) But come the second half, I’ve got a lot of great rides lined up, including a new history-themed ride!

So, what do I have in store?

  • Thursday June 1, 5 am SUNRISE COFFEE CLUB Mount Tabor Park, SE 69th Ave and Yamhill (group picnic area on east side nearest 69th/Yamhill gate, NOT THE VERY TOP) What better way to start Pedalpalooza? Get up before the crack of dawn and ride up to Tabor to make coffee while watching the sun rise. Coffee and camaraderie guaranteed. BYO coffee, water, and way to make coffee. Think camping stoves and the like. Sunrise is hoped for at 5:24. Bringing some breakfast ain’t a bad idea, either.
  • Tuesday June 13, 5 pm PIZZA RIDE Yep, my semi-annual crazy mystery ride hitting up five or more pizzerias is BACK! Start location will be revealed a t registration but it’s somewhere around Tabor. $15/person, capped at 25 peeps. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pizza-ride-2017-head-east-tickets-33880030082?ref=wpwidget NOTE: Ride is currently full, but there is a wait list. If you are interested, I encourage you to SIGN UP FOR THE WAIT LIST. We may expand the size of the ride, and that will only go to people on the waiting list!
  • Sunday June 18, 11 am STARK ST MILEPOSTS  Stark St Station, 6049 SE Stark St  (Meet outside cafe.) Back in the day, there were stone markers laid out for every mile on SE Stark St. Miraculously, more than half survive! We’ll take an eastbound tour of the extant ones from MP 4 to 14. Ride will end out in Gresham. You can take transit home, though I’ll probably grab lunch at the end! Moderate pace, we’ll mostly be riding OFF Stark.
  • Tuesday June 20 6:45 pm POWELL BUTTE SOLSTICE SUNSET Taylor Court Grocery, 1135 SE 80th Ave (Meet outside store, but stock up on supplies inside!)
    Watch the sunset on the shortest night of the year from one of East Portland’s highest points! We’ll tackle the butte the easiest way possible, but it will still be work. We’ll have a lovely picnic (BYO) waiting for the sun to set. About a 7 mile ride one-way, some unpaved action. Not a loop but we’ll get you home. Sunset at 9:03 pm.
  • Thursday June 22, 5:30 pm ROUGH STUFF RAMBLE, EASTSIDE EDITION Fillmore, 7201 NE Glisan St An afterwork romp around the lands bordering I-205. Expect a 15 mi moderate pace with a mixture of paved/unpaved, a hill or two, and a lot of places you may have never been to. Route not a loop and will remain a mystery, but we’ll end up in NE and can get food/drinks at the end. Wider tires recommended. Bring lights/layers, we’ll be out until dark.
  • Sunday June 25, 9 am WOODLAWN PARK COFFEE OUTSIDE Woodlawn Park (under the bridge), NE Dekum St and Bellevue Ave (This park has cover, no excuse for rain to keep you away.) Wake up at a civilised hour to roll over to the park for coffee. This is a BYO affair, either make it there via camp stove, or bring brewed coffee. Something to eat isn’t a bad idea, either. Spend a bit here with friends, what’s the hurry?
  • Sunday June 25, 9:45 am THREE SPEED RIDE Woodlawn Park (under the bridge), NE Dekum St and Bellevue Ave A tour of the northern regions of the city on your humble internally geared three speed bicycle. Bring your trusty three speed bicycle from any nation. Three speeds preferred but any bike welcome if you don’t have one. Casual paced ramble,approx 15 mi, fairly flat, with a little unpaved “rough stuff” action thrown in. We’ll have a picnic and tea brew up on the way, bring all the necessities like food, a teakettle and a camping stove. Ride not a loop, ends near transit and adult beverages. Check website for more info.
  • Sunday June 25, 10 am SLOUGH COUNTRY RAMBLE Woodlawn Park (under the bridge), NE Dekum St and Bellevue Ave Let’s explore the nearer reaches of the Columbia Slough! This approximately 20 mi ride will feature sleepy reaches of this waterway, plus other secret spots. Mixed surfaces, may have to push or carry a bike for a bit. A bit of high traffic roads, too. Not a loop but will end near transit, and maybe we’ll do lunch, etc at the end.
  • Monday June 26, 10 am MIDWEEK RIDE TO THE COLUMBIA GORGE (start location revealed upon registration, but somewhere in Gresham) Riding to quiet country roads and spectacular scenery is easier than you think. The Columbia River Gorge is just a short bicycle ride away. And you can totally handle it if you are an everyday rider. Bring a snack, water, and Trimet fare. Geared bikes recommended. Approx 40 miles round trip. Camping option at Ainsworth State Park. REGISTRATION REQUIRED! https://ualmdwkgorge2017.eventbrite.com
  • Monday June 26 MIDWEEK CAMPING IN THE COLUMBIA GORGE Ainsworth State Park, Historic Columbia River Hwy, just S of I-84 (at the hiker/biker sites) After the Gorge ride, let’s camp at Ainsworth State Park for the night and head back Tuesday. Hiker/biker site $5/person. You can ride out with the main Gorge ride or come out on your own. Registration required. https://ualmdwkgorge2017.eventbrite.com
  • Thursday June 29, 6:30 pm PROPER PEDAL PICNIC  P’s and Q’s Market, 1301 NE Dekum St (Meet outside store, but stock up on supplies inside!) A classy type of picnic ride. Leave your ratty t-shirt, cutoffs, and “I just ran to the store” chips and hummus for ANOTHER picnic ride, this one is about stepping it up. Dress up nicely (you don’t have to be super-fancy, but it wouldn’t hurt) and think about nice foods and beverages to bring. Blankets and nice picnic setups are good too. Thankfully we start at a classy joint to buy provisions. Ride will be about five miles to a mystery picnic destination. Bring lights and layers, we may be out after dark! And stay classy.

A foggy slough and Couve ramble, Wed 28 Dec 2016

Wednesday was a day off, and the weather was supposed to be okay. So a perfect opportunity for a little bike ride! As I stated previously, the Columbia Slough is “my jam” so I decided to aim that way, since I didn’t want anything too ambitious.

The big problem though was a persistent fog that clung to the lowlands. While the fog was clearing around my house when I left after 1 pm, it wasn’t going anywhere by the river. As I got deeper into it, feeling that chill that only fog plus just above freezing temps can give. (Oddly enough, I felt a headwind when I traveled west.) Originally I had a vague notion of heading up towards Kelley Point, but that changed. How about Hayden Island instead?

Hayden Island is an island that sits in the middle of the Columbia River. Well, “middle” isn’t exactly correct, as it’s closer to the Oregon side. As such, most of Hayden Island is a Portland neighborhood, generally known as Jantzen Beach because of the former amusement park/current mall that takes up a good chunk of the island.* I wanted to check and see if Ricky Point, one of my favorite sunrise/set/moonrise spots is still locked off. ** (Unfortunately, it still is.) Even worse, now the wild side of Hayden Island, the part just west of the railroad tracks where we brought Grant Petersen out that one time is also completely fenced off and inaccessible. Sigh.

With an air of resignation I took a coffee outside break at tiny Lotus Isle Park. The fog made everything look eerie, which was cool. But I sort of questioned my own judgement of standing still for so long to make coffee in these conditions. It’s probably because I dragged the kit along, so I felt like I should use it. (And if I somehow didn’t bring the kit along, I would have regretted it. Damned if you do…)

At this point I could head back south and do some more rambling, but since I was practically to Vancouver, Washington I might as well take advantage of it. I rode over the Interstate Bridge and was quickly in downtown The Couve.

While Vancouver is still a bit sleepy and doesn’t feature the explosion of construction that Portland does, every time I visit I see changes. Seems like there’s a new brew pub or cafe, or a restaurant or store. And there’s a lot of murals! For the longest time it didn’t seem like anything was going down downtown, but now there’s even things for a Portland snob like me. I tried out a couple brew pubs, and also visited Niche, the wine bar that my friend Leah owns. (And of course Todd would be there too, so he can finally see what I did to the Superbe since I bought it from him so long ago!)

Then it was dark and late. I headed south, home. I’ll be in Vancouver again, hopefully soon…

*It’s a popular shopping spot for Washingtonians since it’s right across the river from Vancouver, and Oregon has no sales tax.

**Technically Ricky Point is on Tomahawk Island. It was once separated from Hayden Island, but is now connected, so there’s not much of a distinction anymore.

Slough Country Rambling, or I have finally figured out my “jam”.

It seems like most cyclists have a certain “jam” with regards to where they bike. Look at their photostream or blog, where do they usually end up on a bike if they don’t have anywhere more specific to go? For years I thought maybe my “jam” was something more cool and exotic in the Portland area. And while I do ride in Forest Park, or up to one of the many east side buttes, I’ve come to realize that the lowlands around the Columbia Slough are my jam.

While riding on a floodplain isn’t as challenging as riding up a big hill,* many scenic nooks and secret crannies abound in this area. The lowlands are a patchwork of industrial and residential, wild and developed. It’s where we put the airport, sewage plant, and landfill. But it’s also teeming with wildlife and big ol’ cottonwoods. There are a lot of bike paths down here, too. And most importantly, it only takes me a mile to get there. This makes the Slough area a very easy destination for a later day bike ride, or on a day when I just want to get out there and ride but don’t have any real plan.

And that’s how it went on Tuesday December 20. After all that snow** over the weekend, I was itching for a ride. And a great day for it! It was fairly clear (though no mountain views) and a high of 52F/11C. Yeah, low 50s, twenty degrees warmer than it was a few days ago! To some of you folks living in more wintry winters, 52 seems hot. And while it’s indeed a bit more mild than we’d normally get on December 20th, you have to remember that the average high here for December is 46F/8C. Compare that to Duluth with an average December high of just 22F/-5C! It’s like almost twenty-five degrees warmer! And today there was practically zero sign*** of snow from Wednesday. The snow felt like a decade ago.

Anyways, I left the house around 1:30 pm, with about 3 hours of daylight to spare. I could head west towards Kelley Point Park, which is always nice, but I went that way a couple weeks ago when I went to Smith and Bybee Lakes. (I didn’t write about it, but pictures are here.) Instead, I decided to head east since I could hit up the Swedish Embassy of Shopping for late lunch and pick up some more coffee.****

On the way I hit up the East Columbia neighborhood, a truly obscure district in the Slough lowlands. It’s a small collection of houses plus a few small urban farms, with a feeling far from the rest of Portland, yet it’s only about a mile north of my house as the crow flies.***** I passed by a cornfield and saw a turkey! Within East Columbia lies one of Portland’s more obscure parks, the Columbia Children’s Arboretum. The idea of this arboretum was to show the state tree of all 50 states. It’s not well marked, so I don’t know if they ever met that goal. But it does have the state tree of Connecticut, the white oak, and that’s all that matters to me!

From there eastward, it was a quick and sucky mile on NE Marine Drive until I got to the dedicated bike path. A quick pause at Broughton Beach to watch a guy fly a kite and watch a few jets take off from Portland International Airport. Another few miles eastward onto the path until I took a side path to get over to the Cascades Crossing retail development where the Swedish Embassy of Shopping and their delicious veggie meatballs (and all you can drink free coffee) was located! Despite it being just five shopping days until Christmas, the place was only modestly busy. I guess housewares and bags of frozen meatballs don’t make good gifts?

From there, I took the more direct way home, which wasn’t as fun because it was dark and busy and the shoulders full of gravel. (We use gravel here for traction in snow and ice.) I guess the “storm” wasn’t as long ago as I remembered, eh?

So there you have it: my go to biking spot. I will be back soon enough, yes. Do you have a “jam” of your own?

*Unless of course you have a headwind!

**Relatively speaking.

***There were a few lingering snowpiles from plowing in the parking lot at IKEA.

****I was running low, and I actually do like IKEA coffee. It doesn’t hurt that it’s $4 for a half-pound bag.

*****There’s no direct “air line” route between the two, so the ride is more like two miles.