September – wildfires and smoke

September began with a heat wave, too hot for hiking. I went on my usual walks through the neighborhood, noting the late summer flowers and early signs of fall.

And I finished sewing my summer kimono robe.

We were planning some adventures after the Labor Day weekend, when the trails would be quieter. Instead, quite literally, all hell broke loose. In my last post, I expressed my “hope for a late summer without a local fire season.” I could never have predicted the late summer snowstorm in the Rockies that created an ‘unprecedented’ giant windstorm that swept westward across the continent, fanning the flames of wildfires in every combustible forest on the west coast of North America. We were safe at home, watching in horror, as the news kept getting worse.

Satellite photos from September 11th show the smoke being pulled far out to sea:

After the winds died down, the heavy smoke settled in, limiting visibility, and making breathing painful. We learned how to use the AirNow app to monitor our air quality, constantly refreshing the page, hoping for better results.

For six days I did not go out of doors at all – grateful to have a safe home to harbor in, knowing there were so many families evacuated, and many with their homes burned. Many have still not been able to return; meanwhile the firefighters, Red Cross, and all the social support services have stepped up to aid those in need. I have only gone out once, so far, to pick up a prescription and some groceries. Nobody is walking our neighborhood streets – the air has been too bad. Today it finally shows signs of improvement, and we may be able to step out in the next day or two.

September 16th – our first glimpse of the sun in more than a week.

Knitting

Once again, knitting to the rescue. I have had time to finish a few projects:

And make progress on other projects:

Awake and say
“What time is it?
What day is it? What season?”
No sun,
but not dark,
so…
daytime…

End of summer in a strange year
when all the cues are gone,
and now gone again.
Most things closed down again.
Wildfire smoke blankets our part of the planet.
Fall approaches, but is it the fall of our civilization? Or autumn?
Invisible viruses still pervade the air.
Not quite invisible smoke particles dim our sight, harm our lungs.

A metaphor for the insidious gloom covering our entire nation in an unprecedented election year, the outcome to determine how we will breathe going forward.

9/12/2020

Another couple of pandemic weeks with a birthday, two hikes on Mt Hood, and knitting…

8/17/2020 – I’ve had a birthday, which we celebrated with a hike and a socially distanced takeout Thai dinner with our two sons. Despite the palpable pandemic/political chaos tension in the world I have much to be grateful for. Although I am missing having our usual summer get togethers with extended family, so is everyone in the world right now. I am especially grateful that we saw almost every relation last year, between two weddings and a graduation trip to the east coast. My latest acromegaly lab tests all look good, and, we are eating homegrown tomatoes and basil almost every day.

Birthday cake, flowers from my daughter,
and a few lovely presents.

I have been knitting, knitting, knitting away on a few projects, fingers keeping the anxiety away.

My neighborhood walks continue to reveal signs of encouragement and solidarity.

Also in the neighborhood, late summer flowers, shadow play, interesting architectural elements, and tinges of the autumn ahead….

Two hikes on opposite sides of Mt Hood  –

Burnt Lake August 5, 2020

My birthday hike on the west side of Mt Hood was mostly through shady forest, on a hot day, with a few stream crossings, and late season flowers. The other time we hiked here the mountain was under a cloud, so today we were very glad to see the beautiful reflections of Mt Hood in the lake. Hike #55, 8.5 miles, 1500 feet.

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The shady forest

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Tree scorched in the early 1900’s.

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Mt Hood, Burnt Lake

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Mountain close up

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Reflection

Notable flowers and plants:

Newton Creek to Timberline Trail,  August 10, 2020

We started from the Elk Meadows trailhead, then walked uphill along the Newton Creek Trail, stopping for lunch near the Timberline Trail junction where we enjoyed lovely views of Mt Hood and Gnarl Ridge. We then walked south on the Timberline Trail toward Mt Hood Meadows for a short distance before turning back. Hike #56, 7.7 miles, 1600 feet.

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Moon over Clark Creek

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Newton Creek trail

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Ghost tree in the forest

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Gnarl Ridge beyond Newton Creek

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Upstream

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Downstream, fireweed

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Mt Hood ahead

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Lunch view of Gnarl Ridge

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Gnarl Ridge closeup

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We saw a few tiny hikers crossing Newton Creek on the Timberline Trail.

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Glacier closeup

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The peak

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Backside of pea gravel ridge, which we walked along as far as the descent into Clark Creek.

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Return hike down Newton Creek.

Editing note – This is my first post with the New WordPress Editor, so there are lots of formatting inconsistencies. Not loving it, but I suppose I will get used to it as I continue hurling forward into the future, keeping my synapses sharp by constant novelty….

Posting from my peaceful Portland neighborhood –

A trifecta of crises descends on my town –

I have been distracted from posting by current events. All I have been able to think about is how my community has been attacked by our own government. Federal gestapo-like forces have invaded Portland’s mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations, and created a war zone in the four downtown blocks around the federal building. Click-bait and spot news entertainment have focused on the four square blocks of federally-incited violence that occurs after most demonstrators have gone home. The leadership void in DC is trying to distract from inept pandemic management and interrupt local progress toward ending white supremacy. The ‘stormtroopers’ sent by a failed president are causing the violence. Today there is an announcement of an agreement to withdraw the troops. Our state and city have serious antiracist/police reform legislation proposals underway. I am cautiously optimistic.

I am speaking from a condition of white, middle class privilege. I myself have not been downtown, although I know people who have. I am of an age and health situation that I  think the best thing I can do to help is to stay home, not contribute to spreading Covid-19. I stay aware of what is going on, donate money, and hope that the trifecta of political, economic, and public health crises our country is experiencing will begin to resolve after November elections.

I honor the Black Lives Matter protesters. I appreciate the wall of moms, the dads with leaf (teargas) blowers, the wall of vets, the volunteer medics, street cleaners, and cooks, all the folks who have put themselves on the line to keep the conversation about systemic racism and police reform going.

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Meanwhile, in my neighborhood…

The quiet and calm in my neighborhood are uninterrupted. I see signs of support and blooming flowers on my walks.

We have been eating sungold tomatoes and basil from our garden, and we’ve celebrated another family birthday.

I seem to be obsessed with knitting dishcloths and have also cast on a new sweater.

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We have been out hiking in the past two weeks to places we have been before.

Lookout Mountain, July 22, 2020

Wildflower meadows and views of nine Cascade volcanoes, from Mt Rainier to Broken Top. Hike #53, 3.5 miles, 650 feet.

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Mt Adams beyond the wildflower meadows of High Prairie.

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Mt Hood from the volcanic spire overlook.

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Glacier close up.

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Mt Adams from the summit approach trail.

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Mt Hood from the summit approach trail.

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Washington Cascades from the summit.

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Oregon Cascades from the summit.

Notable wildflowers:

 

Salmon River, July 28, 2020

A mostly shaded trail on a hot day along the Wild and Scenic Salmon River through old growth forest on the slopes of Mt Hood. Hike #54, 4.5 miles, 300 feet.

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Peaceful lunch spot along the river…

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arnica

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monkey flower

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Notable flowers…

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Ghost pipe

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Clarkia and blue gillia on a sunny cliff

Finding some peace in the old growth forest…

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Two hikes as our trails reopen…

Boundary Trail, Mt St Helens, Washington –

May 27, 2020 – Trails and parks in Oregon and Washington are slowly reopening for careful, “social distance” hiking. We chose a sunny Wednesday to hike at Mt St Helens. The road to the Visitor Center is still closed, so we began our hike on the Hummocks Trail, and continued on to the Boundary Trail. (Hike #42, 8 miles, 1625 feet)

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Red marks our route.

The trail crosses through the hummocks, which are debris avalanche and landslide deposits from the violent May 18, 1980 eruption. Though once a barren moonscape, the hummocks are now lush and green, covered with plants and shady alder groves, and surrounded by ponds and wetlands.

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Alder groves and ponds near the trailhead.

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The trail comes out into open landscape at the junction with the Boundary Trail, then heads off into lowlands along the Toutle River, before climbing steeply up the flanks of Johnston Ridge. From here on we almost always had a full on view of the mountain.

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Boundary Trail Junction

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Zooming in…

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Crossing the Toutle River lowlands.

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Heading up, Indian paintbrush and Mt St Helens.

Once high enough, we can see north to the west end of Coldwater Lake, and back to the ponds in the hummocks, our starting point.

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Closer view of Coldwater Lake.

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Lovely view from our lunch stop.

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Red current in bloom as we continue eastward.

We reached our farthest view point, not quite to the Loowit Turnout on the road.

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Coldwater Peak

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Mt Adams and a glimpse of Spirit Lake

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Mt St Helens

I felt a bit out of shape on this hike, so we only went as far as a viewpoint where Mt  Adams comes into view, before we reached the Loowit Viewpoint. It was fairly hot, and once out of the hummock zone, there is no shade. What is amazing is how much shade there is in the hummocks area, because everything in sight has regrown since the eruption 40 years ago.

A last look back at the mountain on our return hike:

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40 year old stumps, with younger trees in the foreground.

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Sheep sorrel, Toutle River

Wildflowers are beginning to bloom – in a couple of weeks it will be very colorful here.

We stopped at the Castle Lake Viewpoint on our drive home for a last look today, with plans to return in the not too distant future.

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Castle Lake Viewpoint

Wildwood Trail Hike 4

Friday, May 29, 2020 – In continuation of a pandemic goal to hike all of the 30 mile Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, we walked another section, from Springville Road to the Wildwood Trail, to the Trillium Trail and back to our trailhead on Fire Road 7. This section of the Wildwood Trail is cut into the sides of steep forested slopes. It was dry and warm today, but well shaded. We saw a few flowers, a few birds, a lot of trail runners, and a few hiking groups. Most of the hikers pulled masks up when passing. Trail runners mostly did not. We did our best to give them a wide space. We all need the fresh air! (Hike #43, 5.2 miles, 460 feet)

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Trailhead

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Springville Road

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The first wild roses I have seen this year.

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Fern shadows

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Ferns

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Our return trail is all uphill!

Knitting

I am getting ready to start new projects, so I have been hand winding yarn, knitting a gauge swatch, and spending lots of time searching the glorious Ravelry pattern library, which in my opinion is the very best place in all of the internet. I also cast on a gift knit – fingerless mitts.

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A note on the times we are living in  I support the Black Lives Matter protests going on this weekend. It may be a long time before the “all are created equal” spirit of our nation is realized, but I try to live my life in support of it. On a more positive note, I was happy to see the successful SpaceX launch this weekend, furthering work my father participated in as rocket scientist.

Knitting finish! and another Forest Park hike –

May 22, 2020

For the third week in a row we went to Forest Park on Portland’s west side to hike. We chose the segment of the Wildwood Trail from Germantown Road to Springville Road, looping back to where we started via Leif Erickson Drive and the Cannon Trail (5.6 miles, 500 feet, hike #41 for 2020.) There was a 20% chance of rain for the day – I think we got all of it during our hike. The last time I hiked in this much rain I was in a rainforest in New Zealand! 

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We began our hike in the rain.

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A cedar dripping with rain and moss.

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There were some sun breaks.

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Returning down the wide, social distance friendly, Leif Erickson Drive.

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Robins were hopping along the trail.

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Honeysuckle blooming along the Cannon Trail.

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Thoughts of New Zealand!

Knitting Finish!

The Which Came First? shawl by designer Cheri Clark used three full skeins (1260 yards) of Malabrigo Mechita in the Piedras color way! I will be mailing this to my daughter, who chose the yarn when I saw her in January.

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From bottom to top, eggs (eyelets), chicken feet, chicken wire.

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Remains of the three skeins of yarn.

Garden and neighborhood:

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Penstemon blooming in our front yard.

Two kinds of poppies in the neighborhood:

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California poppies

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Oriental poppies

More words of encouragement on a local Poetry Post:

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Forest Park again…

May 15, 2020 – Wildwood Trail: Newberry Road/BPA Road Loop

We returned to the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park on the west side of Portland for another pandemic hike. It had been raining off and on all week, and the forest was a little drippy. Clouds blocked the view of mountains we saw from the BPA Road last week, but there were lots of new wildflowers this week. (Hike #40, 6.5 miles, 1250 feet)

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Newberry Road trailhead

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Fern-lined trail

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Forest

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Powerline cut – no mountains this week.

In other good news, nearby forests and state parks are gradually reopening, so we will soon have a wider geography available.

Knitting

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A finish!  Patons Kroy Celestial Purple traveling socks.

Neighborhood walks-

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nasturtium

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dogwood

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Porch parade

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Porch pig

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Tethered horse

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More words of encouragement!

Addendum – Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, May 5, 2020

When Washington State reopened some public lands, we went to the driving loop at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. The wintering birds – swans, geese, and sandhill cranes – had flown on. Today we saw turtles, redwing blackbirds, egrets and herons. This was our first foray out of our neighborhood in two months, and it was great just to see some wide open spaces from the safe space of our car!

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Egret in the distance.

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Turtles

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Red wing blackbirds in the meadows.

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Forest Park

Friday May 8, 2020 Wildwood Trail

We hiked out and back, from the Germantown Road trailhead to a little ways up the BPA Road. It was wonderful to be able to hike a good distance on an actual trail. The forest was beautiful, wildflowers were blooming, and we got an unexpected view of two mountains at our turnaround point.

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Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens on view from the power line road

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We decided to hike with masks and careful distance mode, in Forest Park, a huge city park in the hills west of Portland. We don’t often hike here because it is across town, and we usually drive a little farther to go to the Columbia River Gorge. It is one of the few trails close to us that is open, and friends reported that they felt safe on their hike there. The Wildwood Trail is 30 miles long. I hope to complete all the segments over time. Hike #39, 6.4 miles, 1060 feet.

Flowers in the neighborhood

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native iris

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red clover

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rhododendron

Knitting

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One of the sleeves cooperated and the other did not. Maybe next week…

A sad week. We lost a family member to a long standing illness (not Covid). He lives far enough away, that given the pandemic circumstances, we can’t go and be with his family. The key people that need to be together are together, but it is difficult to participate from afar. I will be thinking of him when we go for our next forest walk, because he was a man of the forest.

Pandemic Week 8 – a strange family birthday.

Another week. I continue strategies of sheltering in place, and keeping my distance from too much news – there is too much cognitive dissonance of what is reported, what is predicted, what to expect. We are well trained scientists in this house, so our decisions are logical. But having never chosen to live in Antarctica, or on a submarine, or a space station, I miss living my life in the world among other people. I watch from my window. On my moderately quiet street with bike lanes and good sidewalks I see plenty of bikers and walkers, but the interaction is passive. On we go, though, knowing it may be like this for a while.

On a positive note, people in my neighborhood have been creating flower hearts for all the walkers:

Hike of the week: laps on the dirt path at Wilshire park-

April 28, 2020 – I continue my neighborhood walks, but the cement is hard on my feet. I walked extra laps on the bark chip paths at Wilshire Park to get in a longer distance “hike” that was easier on my feet. And there were a few wildflowers blooming in the native plant garden! Hike #38, 4.5 miles, 180 feet.

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fringe cup

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salal

A double birthday cut in half-

My husband and son share a birthday, 39 years apart. We would normally celebrate together, but our son lives across town in a flat with four flatmates, and is not in our isolation pod. I baked the traditional family chocolate birthday cake and cut it in half. We delivered the half cake and gifts to his front porch, then had a brief conversation from the sidewalk.  My husband said it was his strangest birthday ever, and is grateful to have had a big party last year. Both had plenty of well wishes delivered by various electronic means.

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Sad half birthday cakes, but they tasted good!

I am still knitting…

on the same projects (sock, sweater, shawl). I have made a fair amount of progress, and am clinging to my knit group google hangouts for connection. I might have a finish next week.

Peninsula Park Rose Garden

 

April 23, 2020 – Another urban hike-

We walked to the Peninsula Park Rose Garden through northeast Portland. Neighborhood gardens are bursting with flowers, but it was much too early for the rose garden.

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It is pink snow season in Portland! (cherry blossoms)

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These red and white camellias reminded me of the “Painting the roses red!” scene from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.

Our route took us through the Alberta Arts neighborhood where personal artistic expression is abundant!

We finally reached the Peninsula Park Rose Garden after walking about 4 miles. 

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The rose garden was built in 1913.

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The rose beds are sunken below street level.

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Peonies near the entrance were the brightest color there today.

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Brickwork paths.

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The gazebo

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The only blooming roses.

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Looking west across the rose garden.

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Hike #37, 8.4 miles, 200 feet. We are hoping to find a dirt trail nearby to walk next week – the cement is very hard on my poor arthritic feet, as I am trying to keep my fitness levels up for the duration…

Knitting

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I finished the ‘eggs’ and the ‘chicken feet’ on the Which Came First shawl. On to the ‘chicken wire’!

PS. Happy 3rd Blogiversary to me – I published my first post in April of 2017!

 

Rocky Butte

Another week of Pandemic, another urban volcano hike, new spring blooms, a bit of crafting, and some good advice from George Washington.

April 16, 2020 – Hike of the Week

Rocky Butte is another Boring Volcanic Field volcano in Portland. We walked there from the Rose City Golf course, and had a great view of the High Cascades Peaks, with a coyote sighting along the way.

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After walking flat city streets, we began the uphill climb on Rocky Butte Road.

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A coyote, crossing the road ahead.

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The coyote continued up into the forest.

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Meanwhile, we walked up the road and through the tunnel.

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The road, tunnel, and stone walls were built in the 1930’s as part of a WPA post-depression infrastructure project.

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Eventually, we reached the park on the summit.

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Views in all directions:

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East to Mt Hood

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North to Mt St Helens

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Columbia River, Mt St Helens

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Mt St Helens

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Northwest, down the Columbia River

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West to the Fremont Bridge, Portland

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West to downtown Portland

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Southeast to Mt Jefferson

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Mt Jefferson

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Mt Hood again

And a last look at Mt St Helens before heading down.

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I always love a Peak Finder!

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Hike#36, 6.5 miles, 420 feet.

New blooms in the neighborhood and garden this week:

Crafting:

I made forward and reverse progress on my Meris sweater. While playing yarn chicken, I made the sleeves too short. I have knit just about every part of this sweater three times, so now I will reknit the lower sleeves.  I sewed more masks, started sewing a new bathrobe to replace the one I left behind in Queenstown, and continued knitting Emily’s shawl, and the purple socks.

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Meanwhile in Portland:

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Physical distancing demonstrated by our founding father!