The non-travel blog

Dear friends and family,

In this year of not traveling, I have missed being in touch with all of you and hearing your friendly messages and kind comments. So even though I haven’t been more than a couple hours outside of Portland since early March, I decided to share a new blog post about my adventures in my own backyard. Of course, WordPress decided to do a total remodel while I was gone, so bear with me as I learn how it works.

Pink Snow Day in Portland

I stayed pretty close to home in the beginning, as we all have to some degree. I mostly enjoyed walking around my neighborhood seeing the spring flowers–including what we call “pink snow day,” when the flowering cherry trees all drop their blossoms at once.

Another marker of spring in Portland is the long-awaited opening of the dozens of farmers markets. Here is my favorite vendor at the Hollywood neighborhood market. They have the best berries and for some reason the shortest lines.

Pablo Munoz Farms at Hollywood Farmers Market

Gradually we all got used to the idea of wearing a mask whenever we went outside. Here’s a little reminder from my neighborhood grocery store.

By July I was starting to realize I needed a change of scenery. I had a strong urge to look at something farther away than the house across the street. So I drove out to one of my favorite viewpoints in the Columbia River Gorge.

View of Crown Point from Portland Women’s Forum State Park

The Portland Women’s Forum did a lot to preserve the scenic beauty of the Columbia Gorge. They built this viewpoint in 1960. Vista House, which you can see in the distance on the top of Crown Point, is the most popular viewpoint, but from there you don’t get to see Vista House!

Lower Reservoir, Mt. Tabor Park

Closer to home, I love the view from Mt. Tabor Park. The extinct volcano has views in all directions, as well as two city water reservoirs. Downtown Portland is in the distance.

My next adventure took me to the St. Johns neighborhood in North Portland, home to the St. Johns Bridge and Cathedral Park. Legend has it that this graceful suspension bridge was an inspiration for the engineers who designed the Golden Gate bridge a few years later.

St. Johns Bridge

The support structure underneath the bridge resembles Gothic arches, which gave the area its name, Cathedral Park.

Cathedral Park, N. Portland

Fans of the TV series The Librarians, based on the movie starring Noah Wyle, may recognize this medieval looking structure that served as the filming location for their secret hideout.

Portland is full of lovely views from the surrounding hills. This was a rainy day in Washington Park’s International Rose Test Gardens. The Rose Festival had to be canceled this year but you can’t cancel the roses!

Washington Park Rose Gardens

This view of our newest bridge, Tillikum (Bridge of the People), is taken from the top of Terwilliger Blvd. This bridge doesn’t allow cars or trucks–only pedestrians, bicycles, and public transit. That’s so Portland!

Tillikum Bridge

The best view of Mt. Hood has to be the Jonsrud Viewpoint on Bluff Road in Sandy, OR just east of Portland. This land belonged to a family that built a house across the street and cleared the site to get a better view. In the late 80s-early 90s the younger generation of Jonsruds donated the land to the city and the viewpoint was built with support from the state as well as local citizens whose names are commemorated on the bricks.

Mt. Hood and Sandy River Valley from Jonsrud Viewpoint

Commemorative Bricks at Jonsrud Viewpoint

By now I realized I hadn’t seen a waterfall in a long time, and chose Starvation Creek Falls state park in the Columbia Gorge. A lovely place with an ugly name, it commemorates a train full of people getting stuck in a snowstorm. They survived due to the kindness of local people who brought them food.

Starvation Creek Falls

Of course, August is not the peak season for viewing waterfalls. But the Columbia River itself makes for good viewing any time of year.

Trail along the Columbia

Another kind of waterfall can be seen from the I-205 viewpoint, just before you cross the Willamette River into Oregon City. Willamette Falls is more of a “working waterfall” with locks that operated from the 1870s until about ten years ago. I once had the opportunity to go through the locks on a restored sternwheeler–quite an adventure!

Willamette Falls, Oregon City OR

The end of our summer is taking a strange turn, due to the wildfires you have probably seen or read about. The closest one to me is about 30 miles away, and is still only around 10% contained. For a week or so it filled the skies of Portland with smoke and ash, and we mostly stayed inside to avoid breathing the hazardous air. My neighborhood was not too bad–not sure why–but other parts of the city were almost invisible.

NE Broadway

Cabin fever began to get to me after a week of this. Luckily, before the fires got out of hand, I had made a reservation to spend a day and night at the Oregon Coast. After hearing from friends that road trips were possible–stores, hotels, and rest areas open–I realized it had been at least a year since I’d traveled to our beautiful Pacific Coast. I waited until after Labor Day to avoid the crowds and then set off for Cannon Beach.

Along the way I saw this Unidentified Flying Object (I believe it’s called “The Sun”) near the Sunset Highway Summit.

Cannon Beach was a bit smoky and very foggy, but the breathing was definitely easier. I couldn’t see much when I first arrived at Ecola State Park, but the fog cleared a bit later and the coast was fairly clear.

Morning, Ecola Point
Haystack Rock and Cannon Beach from Ecola Point
Ecola Point

After a short walk around downtown Cannon Beach with its restaurants, candy stores, and souvenir shops, I headed for my hotel at Tolovana Beach on the south end of town. This beach has my favorite views of the famous Haystack Rock. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to be able to walk around breathing the fresh air!

Haystack Rock in fog

In a perfect end to a perfect day, it started raining that evening. The rain made it to Portland Thursday night and it poured all day Friday, cleaning our air and giving our firefighters some better conditions to work in.

Hang in there and maybe someday soon we’ll be able to do real road trips again!


7 thoughts on “The non-travel blog”

  1. Andrea you are amazing. Your travel around Portland, the Columbia River Gorge and Oregon coast are beautiful and your commentary outstanding. Look forward to your far away trips in the future. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s nice to go sightseeing in your own backyard! I especially enjoyed your pictures of Haystack Rock – I saw it long, long ago (1968) on a road trip with my parents and aunt and uncle. Brought back good memories so thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Andrea you amaze me you make our almost everyday sites look not so everyday. You have a real skill at seeing our beautiful state even in these crazy times..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sending this account of your travelling to your surroundings. You are fortunate to have so many beautiful sites around you. I have been wondering if you’ve been affected by the fires. I am glad to know you are safe and sound and haven’t gone berserk by having so many restrictions on your adventuring.

    Liked by 1 person

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