As Grandpa Nelson and I walked south from Downtown along the West Bank of the Willamette, we saw how quickly the environment changed. Glass condominium towers had views of wooded banks and open river. The paved path passed under dense canopies of cottonwoods.
There was traffic on the river, but it was more recreational than industrial. A small sailboat had to pull over and make room for a large river cruiser taking tourists upriver to Oregon City, and we even saw a fellow water skiing behind a motor boat! This is where the river comes to play.
We found this charming bronze beaver installed at Heron Point. It is a memorial to Stuart Wells Jr., who worked to clean up and maintain the river and its ecosystem. It was next to an informational sign showing how the river’s channel has changed over the years, making it better for shipping, but worse for wildlife.
We passed the Willamette Sailing Club, where young folks were carrying their paddle boards to the river, and eventually entered our destination, Willamette Park! It was five miles from home, and we felt very accomplished as we sat in the shade, watched the trees dance in the soft breeze, and took inventory of our feet.
“How are you feeling?” Grandpa Nelson asked. “Because the Sellwood Bridge is right there… I mean, it’s only a mile away.”
I looked upriver. The Sellwood Bridge, which I had not even counted as being in the city, was indeed, right there. It was sort of waving to us. We could so do this.
The walk between the park and the bridge was hot. There were no trees along the path for shade, but there were a few places where you could walk right down and get your feet wet. I did, once, and even picked up two river stones.
But I knew that the longer we spent in the full sun, the less we would enjoy the rest of our walk. So we hustled along, finding our first shade in a half hour under the Sellwood Bridge.
I stood for a minute, just relishing where we were and how we had gotten there. I felt pretty good about it, I must admit.
We walked up onto the bridge, looking upriver and down. We were amazed at the views of wooded banks upriver and the sparkling city of Portland, our new hometown, in the opposite direction.
The city of Sellwood was founded in the 1890s and has a history all its own, of a playground for the well to do of Portland, of golf courses and rowing clubs. It has a population of about 10,000 and is now a neighborhood, rather than a city, but it still has its own distinctive flavor.
We knew just where to stop for lunch! Ancestry Brewery was just a few blocks from the bridge. We had stopped on our way back from the Lake Oswego Arts Festival last month. The beer, cider, burger and fries refreshed us from what was now an EIGHT mile walk. We sat for quite a while, enjoying conversation, air conditioning, and rehydration.
And it turns out, the number 70 bus back to town runs just a block away! We caught it and enjoyed the parade of humanity and neighborhoods from our seats, transferring to the magic 15 to complete our ride home.
What a great day!