An Early Visit to the Rose Garden

Dear Liza,

It was another pretty day! This makes three in a row! It might really be spring this time. But we aren’t taking it for granted.

Auntie Bridgett needed to do art work, so Grandpa Nelson planned an adventure for he and I. We started by boarding the “Magic Bus”, the number 15, and heading downtown. I needed to put some money in the bank, and it is always nice to walk around downtown, taking time to notice the old buildings.

This one, The American Bank Building, was not the bank we needed to go to, but is pretty just the same. It was built in 1913 by A.E. Doyle, the same fellow who designed Reed College. I love how he makes huge buildings pretty but not garish and dark. He used white glazed terracotta for the decorations, so they have stayed bright all these years. We took the train to Washington Park, then the number 63 through the park to the Rose Garden. We have seen a few roses blooming in town, and hoped for a good show.

We looked and looked, but out of the 10,000 rose bushes at the garden, we found two, count them, two, tiny miniatures in bloom. Debut, a lovely dark pink, and Dee Bennett, a bright orange, were the only bright spots in acres and acres of green. The view of Mt. Hood was fantastic, however, and the azaleas were nice. It’s hard to have a BAD day at a garden.

Grandpa Nelson, after he got done chatting with this statue of a Royal Rosarian, looked at the map and found a trail to lead us down the mountain. It was sunny, warm, and everything smelled wonderful. Wildflowers, crows, even a few butterflies, were all out celebrating spring.Coming off the trail, we found ourselves just across the street from an old friend, the beautiful statue of Sacajawea and her son, Jean-Baptiste. This statue was commissioned from artist Alice Cooper for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition. Besides city funds, it was paid for by school children who sold buttons to raise money for it. I have seen articles in newspapers of the time about contests between grade levels at local grammar schools. Apparently using school kids for fund raising is a time honored tradition.

Nearby is the less-beautiful column that memorializes Lewis and Clark, who were appointed by President Jefferson in 1804 to travel west from St. Louis, Missouri, and find a route to the Pacific Ocean. Thanks to Sacajawea, a Native American woman they met in North Dakota and who knew the land, plants and animals of the area, they made it through the mountains and to the coast safely.

After we rested a bit and enjoyed the breeze and the views of the city, we headed down about a million steps to West Burnside Street, where we bought lunch at Zupan’s. This is a very upscale grocery store, and it sure smelled good! The deli had pulled pork tamales and the bakery had cinnamon rolls, so we both ate just fine!

On the way down the hill we found a giant redwood tree in front of an elegant 1920s apartment building. At the foot of the tree was a brass plaque:

Hmmmm…. The tree is beautiful, and probably older than the building, but Portland’s FAVORITE tree? We have trees in our park that we have named, for goodness sake! We get very attached to trees.

As it turns out, during the 1987 Rose Festival, the Oregonian newspaper held a popularity contest, and this redwood, (a native Californian, I must note) growing in the west hills, won. Since the contest hasn’t been held since, this is the reigning champion.

Smiling about how silly, and beautiful, the world is, we caught the magic bus just a block from the market, got home, and crashed. Views, hikes, art and lunch…we had had a full day.

I wonder what adventure we will find tomorrow?

Love, Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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