Signing Off

I’ve been giving it some thought and I’ve decided to stop blogging.  I hadn’t been doing such a great job of it anyway, and then this summer was kind of crazy busy with trying to pack in a whole year’s worth of experience into one summer that I never got a chance to blog about the super fun things we did, even though I was creating blog posts in my head.  Added to that was the fact that Davan asked me to not take as many pictures and be more in the moment.  I did.  I feel ambivalent about that.  I like having the pictures, but it was also nice to just not worry about the camera very much.  I did take some.  It’s not a totally undocumented summer.

Now, to add the kicker, my best subject is off in Oman for a year.  If you haven’t already, go check out her blog.  She’s done one entry in country now.  I’m hoping for more soon.  Several of the other YES Abroad Omani young ladies also have blogs.  A couple of them have posted in country, also.  If you want to know more about the adventure overall, check them out, too.  There’s Strawberry Blond Abroad, Talya in Oman, Nantucket to Oman, and The Curly Muscateer.

While I’m at it, let me share one more.  This YES Scholar isn’t going to Oman.  She’s going to Turkey.  I’m sharing hers, though, because she and Davan met while flying to the ISPE (the first trip to DC for interviews and stuff) and have become friends.  She’s not in country yet – the Turkey folks leave next week, but here’s her blog, too.  Subterranean Homeskick Linguist.

For any of you who are still coming around after all my sporadicness of the last many months, thanks.  If you’d like to keep up contact and we don’t already, leave a comment and we’ll exchange emails.


Hello from Colorado

Davan, Anthony, Ranger and I have road tripped ourselves to Colorado to visit with my parents in their newly built house.  We’re helping with the settling in, eating lots, doing fun activities and generally having a good time.

I haven’t uploaded pictures on this computer yet, but I may get to that.  Otherwise, more when we get home.

Walk #14: Linnton to Forest Park

This 4 mile walk is a one way walk mostly in Forest Park, which means mostly trails.  Anthony dropped us off at the start and drove off, which was a little odd-feeling, as we were at the end of this very rural seeming road, but we had faith that it would work out.  While Davan and I had both been feeling a little drained at the end of the previous walk, our spirits boosted as we started walking through Forest Park.  They boosted so much that we even did a little trail running just for fun.
The walk started off on a dirt road, which lead us steeply uphill to Lief Erikson Dr.


Lief Erikson Dr is a dirt/gravel road that is now a bike/walking path which is 11 miles long with plenty of width for all comers.  It was built in 1914 and 1915  with the intention of building subdivisions along it  However, it proved prone to washouts and too difficult to maintain.  It became a Depression era work relief project at which time it was graded and graveled, but slides again made it impassible for cars.

At the end of Lief Erikson, we took a firelane steeply down, down, down.


We were all alone, so we let Ranger off leash for a bit to romp.


After a while, it seemed like we were starting to come to civilization again, so I leashed her back up.  Shortly after that, we came across three kids, ranging in age from about 3 to about 6 at best out with their labradoodle puppy all on their own.  Their dog became really interested in Ranger and moved on down the trail with us, causing the children to come along.  It became apparent that they lived in the house right at the terminus of the fire lane.

I have really mixed feelings about this encounter.  I love the idea of giving kids the freedom to explore and, for these kids, this was probably like an extension of their backyard.  On the other hand, they seemed pretty young for the responsibility of an off leash puppy on a trail open for public use.  I’m still conflicted.

With this, we were in Linnton, which is older than Portland by a couple of years and vied to be the preeminent port on the Willamette.  That would have meant that we’d all be living in a town called Linnton.  It’s now part of Portland, but not much on the radar, which is interesting as it’s really close, but has this small town feel.

After reaching the freeway and sea level, we climbed some stairs back up and through more of Linnton before dropping back down to the freeway and the car.  We just had time to go home, have a bite to eat and shower before picking up a few Zig Zags and heading to another of the Zig Zag’s graduation party.  Whew.

Walk #13: Willamette Cove to Saint Johns Bridge Loop

We set off Saturday morning after breakfast to do this 3.5 mile walk with the plan of following it up with another walk just after.  The second walk was the one I referenced a while by that involves a bus ride.  We went another way with it, though.  Anthony joined us for this walk, bringing his bike along.  He then dropped us off at the beginning of the second walk and then parked the car at the end of that walk so we could just drive home rather than take the bus.  He then went for a bike ride.

First, though, we did this walk.  We started in St Johns (a neighborhood), walking toward a view point of the Saint John’s Bridge.


Anthony and I often ride our bikes across the Saint John’s bridge and back through this area, but it was interesting to travel it on foot and to discover some interesting places.


We soon came to a view point of the next bridge to the south, which is the railroad bridge.


After this view point, we started descending.  Okay, typing that sentence made me realize I wasn’t quite accurate when I said that there was only one walk that started high and went low.  This one does, as well.  The elevation change isn’t as great, but still.


The above path took us down to the Willamette Cove greenspace.  This area is a Superfund site, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which means that there is extreme pollution here to be cleaned up.  It’s okay to walk in, but it’s not recommended that you let your kids dig in the dirt here.  The toxins in the area are from when a creosoting company was in business here from 1944 to 1991.  The problem was noticed in 1988 when kids wading in the area suffered from chemical burns.  Bummer.

The area is pretty, though.

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Davan enjoyed the railroad tracks.


And a graffiti-ed wall.


We walked along a path through the greenspace, emerging in the campus for the Water Pollution Control Laboratory.  In addition to work they do analyzing local water, they have 6.5 acres of native landscaping, architecture that demonstrates ways to save energy and use of bioswales for water run off plus some water-related sculptures, such as this one that inspired Davan to create an on the spot dance.

A short walk on an actual street then lead us to Cathedral Park, which is located underneath the Saint John’s Bridge.  We’d never been to it before, either, and discovered a treasure.  There is a pier that goes out over the water, under the bridge.  Davan and I always like going out on top of the water like that.  Anthony thought it was okay, too.  😉

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When we were done with the pier, the walk lead us through the part and pack up to the heart of Saint John’s.  We walked along a street of shops and restaurants for a while, coming to the farmer’s market.  There was hunger in amongst the troops again and a desire for something savory, rather than fruit, so we picked up a pretzel each and a lime-aide to quench our thirst.


Then we were back to the car and off for our next walk.

Walk #12: Portland Heights to Park Blocks and Goose Hollow Loop

We actually did this walk the other way around:  Park Blocks and Goose Hallow to Portland Heights.  This was the only walk in the book where the author has you start at the high point of the walk and do your downhill first.  The reason for this is parking, but we really like doing our walks the other way around.  We decided to ride our bikes so we didn’t have to worry about parking and do the 3 mile loop from the low point.

This was the walk we had been trying to fit into our Wednesday walk, but ended up doing it Friday morning instead.  This meant that Anthony could join us, as it was his Friday off.  We did also have limited time for it, as Fridays were my early day for work due to our weekly meetings, so it being a shorter walk was good.

We rode the 3.5 miles or so to the downtown park blocks and parked near the art museum.


This walk is an old stomping grounds sort of walk for us, as, when Davan was born, we lived very near here.  I was going to school at Portland State University, which we walk through at the end of this walk.

We knew we’d be in an area with food possibilities, so we each had a piece of fruit before we went and figured on picking up breakfast in the form of maybe bagels along the way.

We headed out.  When Anthony is with us, sometimes we notice different things.  Here he and Davan are checking out the stone work.


We had our share of stairs.


One set of stair cases took us right into this person’s driveway.


There were construction signs on the stairs, but we opted to take them anyway, as they seemed passable.  One set took us pretty much through a couple of front yards.


However, after climbing most of the stairs, we ran into the construction.  They’re working on the stairs for safety, which is great, but it meant we had to go all the way back down and find a way around. This we did, finding streets to take us to the top of the stairs.

Near the highest point of this walk (which was half way up to Council Crest, and, thus, there was still a lot of hill above us), was a lot for sale.


Unless we put a tent on it, which the neighbors might frown on, it would be in need of stilts to be buildable.

The path back down involved yet more stairs.  We came out by this structure:

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This, according to our book, is an authentic ruin.  I was a brick gate house for a city reservoir which is no longer there.

Soon after this, we joined back up to the park blocks, on their opposite end.  Right at the start is a small playground, where we used to take Davan when she was a baby.


We were meant to just continue straight through the park blocks, but we detoured off to go to a Pho place I’d noticed on a nearby corner.  We never had found our bagels and we were all hungry.  Davan didn’t think she’d make it riding back up the hill without sustenance.

The Pho was good, but not the best we’ve ever had.  It certainly filled us up and we were ready to move on.  We came across this test garden on the edge of PSU.

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We explored for a bit, but I was feeling like I really needed to get going to get to work on time, so we moved on.  We went back to the park blocks, moving through the PSU campus.


At the food cart area (there were food carts there when I was a student, too, but they’ve changed in the 14 years since then), there was a cart with Arabic writing.  Davan was very excited.


Finishing our stroll though the park blocks:

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We got back to the bikes with just enough time for me to ride directly to work.

Walk #11: Sellwood Riverfront to Johnson Creek Loop (sort of)

As it turns out, we only did half of this walk.  We decided that we’d make Thursday a two walk day by going in the evening, after work, for the second walk.  Davan packed a dinner and she and Anthony picked me up after work and we were off.

However, the walk presented challenges.  We started out right down by the Willamette River at Sellwood Riverfront Park.  The plan, in the book, is to walk along the river bank.  The water was too high for that, so we ended up backtracking and walking on the Springwater Corridor, which is a mixed use path.  However, it is too busy with bikes to really feel like a nice walk, at least in my opinion.  Not that I don’t think bikes should be there.  I use it all the time for biking myself, but it wasn’t a lovely walk.


Fine, really, but not a highlight.  Then we joined back up with the walk to enter Oak’s Bottom, a wildlife refuge.  That was fine…but the path up the hill to Sellwood Park that we were supposed to take is no longer there.  So, we wandered about for a while, trying to figure it out.  We did, eventually, get up into Sellwood Park, where we decided the full walk just wasn’t going to happen that evening.

We had our dinner at a picnic table, followed by a little playing at the park.  I have no idea why there are no pictures from that part of the evening, which was lovely.  Ah well.  Then we did the tail end of the loop – what we were calling the bottom half – and headed home.

The full walk is 3.75 miles and we probably walked about 2.5, but only about 1.5 of the actual walk.  The other 2.25 would have to wait for another day.

Walk #10: Nob Hill to Kings Heights and Pittock Mansion Loop

On Thursday morning we, once again, packed a breakfast and headed out first thing.  This 4.75 mile loop was a great one.  Most of the walk was through residential neighborhoods with a jaunt into Forest Park for some trails and Pittock Mansion.

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These are quite posh neighborhoods and we passed many nice houses.


We climbed a bunch of steps.


And found our next house.


This house is probably on the lower side of medium for the neighborhood, which makes it right in our price range.


Luckily, I’m actually very happy in our condo and don’t really wish to live in a big place with so much upkeep.  I guess if you can afford this place, you can afford to pay people to keep it up for you, as well, but still.  I love our little place.

Because the hill sides are so steep and developers are trying to build everywhere, here, as in many of our other hill walks, many houses are on elaborate stilts.


While it doesn’t seem to have come across very well in the picture here, this was one of my favorite houses in the neighborhood.


As we made our way up, we went on little paths and even more stairs.

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After some trail hiking, we made it to Pittock Mansion.  You can tour Pittock Mansion, which I’ve never actually done.  I hear it’s best to do during the holidays, as they do all sorts of Christmas decorations.  The house was built between 1909 and 1914 by Henry Pittock – a newspaper man – who obviously did well for himself.  He and his wife had 7 kids, but didn’t build this home until after they were grown.  Two of them, however, ended up living with them here along with their kids, so the two of them weren’t rattling around in their themselves.

I didn’t take any pictures of the mansion myself, as the exterior is scaffolded right now for maintenance, but here’s a borrowed picture for you.

We just went right around to the back, as the grounds are all accessible to the public, for lovely views and our picnic breakfast.

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After our repast, we nearly immediately left Forest Park and went into a residential area, where we enjoyed looking at more houses and, of course, stairs.

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It was another lovely walk!  There were so few from this book we didn’t like.  To anyone else looking to do one of Laura Foster’s books in total, so far, I’d recommend this one!


A Lena Visit Video

It’s sad how much of Lena’s visit I didn’t have the camera for.  There were many things we did that weren’t photographed.  However, there are some good ones.  I made a video of some of the pictorial highlights.  Some of what I’d have liked to included but didn’t have the camera for would be the first camp show, rock climbing, Tree to Tree and the water park portion of Great Wolf Lodge.  Oh well.  We got what we got and it’s still fun.

Lena, it was great having you in town again.  I hope you enjoy the video!

What’s Up? Some Catch Up

I haven’t been very on task with blogging…busy with our crazy summer and just generally being out of the habit.  As I often say, though, I do want to get back into regular blogging, as it really helps me organize my photos and serves us as a journal of our lives.  That said, let me catch us all up a bit, then I’m planning on going back and filling in more details.

As I think I did write about (but maybe not), I’ve opted not to go back to working in the after school martial arts program in the fall.  There are a lot of reasons for this and I’d be happy to explain why to individuals if curiosity has the better of you.  I’m not really sure what I’ll be doing with myself in the fall at this point.  Possibilities include training to do an Ironman triathlon, doing some part time work, doing some volunteering, getting started on going back to school and, definitely, going back to being the primary runner of the house.  Of course, Davan will not be here, so my duties there are lessened greatly.  It may well be a combination of several of the above listed ideas.

This summer, though, I’m throwing myself into having lots and lots of memory building activities with Davan.  Our trip to California was part of that experience.

Lena came to visit for three weeks, just leaving this morning, and, boy, did that ever keep us busy.  The girls did their bike trip to the beach, then did two weeks of day camps at Do Jump together.  Lena was staying with her host family again, but that did not mean that we didn’t see lots and lots of her!  They had their bike trip to the beach, after which we all three camped overnight then played on the beach before getting home just in time for them to go to camp.

Many days prior to camp found us on outings such as to Sky High or rock climbing at the Circuit Gym or the like.

The weekend in between we packed in so much!  On Saturday, we went to Tree to Tree Adventure Park where we did their combo package, taking a zip line tour and then doing the aerial obstacle course.  I couldn’t figure out how to safely carry the camera, so there aren’t any pictures of us there.  We were there most of the day, but finished our day with a trip to Trader Joe’s because we had to resupply for the next day, when we were off for a night at Great Wolf Lodge, which had been something Lena had really wanted to do when she was here, but we never had.

Tanner, a fellow Zig Zag and friend of Davan’s, joined us for Great Wolf Lodge, which was a whole lot of fun.


One of the best parts of that trip was doing parkour in the hotel room, which I have to admit was quite a lot my idea.  I’m such a bad influence.

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While the kids were all exhausted by the time we were driving home, in spite of my imposed midnight lights out, we got home just in time for Davan and Lena to get to the 5-7 camp of that week.  Tanner, who’d done the prior week’s camp with them but not that week’s, went home and crashed.

Just because all of this wasn’t quite enough, I picked Davan and Lena up on Wednesday from camp and we drove to the coast (then back inland a ways because no camping was available where I’d planned to camp) and camped, then played on the beach again.

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While there was a camp show for each of the camps, I only have pictures of the second one because I forgot the camera for the first and, oddly, Lena didn’t have my back on that.  Sigh.  Here is a bit of video from the second camp show.  It’s not overly polished, as camp show shouldn’t be overly polished.  They’re just for fun and showing off anything new learned that week.  Lena is in an orange tank top and Davan is in an orange/pink tank top.  Davan’s friend, Summer, was also both camps.  For this show she’s in a teal tank top.  The last piece they do is an improve with their eyes closed.

We had our goodbyes with Lena last night, taking the girls to Red Robin for dinner after the show.  Then Anthony and I said goodbye, but Davan had a final send off this morning, as she accompanied Lena and her host family to the airport to see her off.

While she was gone, Anthony was busy packing.  Nearly as soon as she got home, he and Davan went off on a father-daughter backpacking trip.  I have to say that I’m having such a nice day with being only responsible for myself and the cat.  It’s really lovely.  I can’t remember the last time I had time alone like this.  Of course, I’ll be happy to have them all back again…even more so if they had been able to spend two nights out rather than just one…

I finally got the walk book from the library and will post about at least two walks before they come home.  Promise!

Walk # 9: Portland Hights to Council Crest Loop

We had decided that we’d try to get two walks in on Wednesday the 5th.  We had 12 walks to go and 10 days, so we knew we had to do a double walk day on two days.  We were thinking that with nothing but work to do that Wednesday and a busy weekend coming up, we should try to do it on this day.  We chose a walk that connected with another walk – they shared a parking location, but went in different directions.  What was going to make it challenging was that this walk was 4.5 miles and the other 3 miles.  While the second was pretty short, the first was a fair distance and both had a lot of hills.  We set out not knowing for sure if we’d do both or just this one.

We packed a picknick breakfast to eat at the top of Council Crest and set out first thing in the morning.  The first thing we did was climb.  As we were already on a hill, the views, when not blocked by houses, were quite nice from the start.


This house kindly angled their slats in one part of the fence to allow pedestrians to enjoy the view.


One of the things that delighted us about this book were all the hidden stair ways and walkways that you wouldn’t know were there or that you might think were private property.  We got to take a lot of these quirky passage ways.


After passing through residential areas, we spent a good amount of our climb time on trails, which often backed right up to people’s yards.  One yard had this in it:


Often, though, it felt like we were in the woods, hiking.

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After a lung-bursting climb, we made it to the top of Council Crest, which is the highest point in Portland city limits with an elevation of 1073 ft.  In addition to a water and cell phone tower, there are grassy areas and benches with views.

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We sat on a bench to enjoy our breakfast of peanut butter and strawberry sandwiches made with fresh strawberries we’d bought the day before at a stand as we were leaving Multnomah Village.


Ranger rested in the shade of the bench.  Poor dog.  We kept wearing her out.


As we ate, though, she recovered and was chomping at the bit to go soon enough.


Over breakfast, we discussed the one walk or two dilemma and were still unsure.  We decided if we got back to the car by a certain time, we go ahead and do the other walk.  If not, we’d do it another day, but start it in the middle, which was the lowest part, but also where parking is a challenge.  If we went that way, we’d ride our bikes there.  It was going to be tight to make it to the car by our cut off and we decided not to rush ourselves, but just see how it played out.

We followed a different trail down to more residential areas, skimming the edge of Washington Park before crossing this bridge next to a school and returning to our starting point.


We got to the car just at our cut off time and still had to make the call.  We opted to go home and do the other walk another day.  We were in need of a little down time and didn’t want to have to run it.