Epic Walk

Dear Liza,

We don’t like to drive much. I mean, driving is okay for bringing heavy groceries home or getting to the coast, but our adventures around town usually don’t use the car.

So yesterday, when we wanted to see the installation of the new Earl Blumenauer Pedestrian Bridge over the Banfield Freeway, we walked! It’s only a few miles north, after all.

Well, and about a mile west…. Anyway, after a wonderful stroll through the Irvington neighborhood, we found the freeway.

It was EMPTY. Not a car in sight! The city had blocked off a few miles of freeway so they could install the bridge safely. I wonder how all those thousands of cars were getting around? After we had soaked up the quiet of six lanes of silence, we walked toward the installation site.

The work was going slowly and carefully, with gantries and cranes and dozens of people. We realized it wasn’t going to be done for hours and hours.

We stared for a while. We had walked about three miles, maybe more, with weaving through neighborhoods, and we were foot sore. The search began for coffee and ‘a little something’.

We knew busy Broadway Street was just up a few blocks, so we headed in that direction. On the way, we found these plaques showing the state bird, fish, flower, insect and mammal of the state of Oregon. They were a nice decoration, making the back of a parking garage interesting and educational.

We found coffee, then pastries, then a new cone for Mouse, at shops along Broadway, and we were all feeling the milage. We charted the most direct route home and trudged along, only stopping to notice that the flamingo flock by the park is showing their support for our favorite San Francisco baseball team. Go Giants!

We got home, rested our poor feet, and drank lots of water. We had a right to be tired. We had walked 6.4 miles!

What a day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

North in the Sunshine

Dear Liza,

The other day I knew I needed to get out of the house, but had no motivation. Grandpa Nelson suggested a walk, and promised me goodies somewhere along the way. I went.

We headed north through the Laurelhurst neighborhood, then kept going up to Kerns. About a mile and a half from home, we stopped at Oregon Park and watched two little girls learn that going down a slide doesn’t have to be a straight forward proposition. It was fun to see their inventiveness.

“Where next?” Grandpa asked.

“I’m not sure, but it seems I remember a bakery just over that way,” I said, pointing north west-ish. He checked his phone.


“Good call! Helen Bernhardt Bakery is just 1.2 miles away. Practically around the corner.” So off we went. In the neighborhood in between, we found all sorts of delights. These stone lions are very stylish and Covid-aware.


These vintage, hand-carved children’s rocking chairs sat outside a turn of the century home, as if waiting to be adopted.

Window art is wonderful along Broadway.


We got to Helen Bernhardt’s Bakery, which has good Covid procedures in place, and chatted with the lady behind the counter.

She said that this past Easter, a week ago, was the best Easter ever for the business. That’s since 1924! It’s nice to know that some businesses have been able to survive and even thrive in this weirdness, and that we will have this lovely bakery around for a long time.


Grandpa Nelson has been eaten by a camellia!

After sitting on a low wall outside the bakery, enjoying our donut, Florentine and coffee as we watched happy folks come and go from the bakery, it was time to “South” a little. That is, to head towards home. We found this incredible camellia bush that was huge outside and magical inside. The flowers under the ‘umbrella’ seemed to glow pink with the afternoon sun.


We walked back across the Banfield Freeway and were soon in our own neighborhood. We stopped to say Hi to Auntie Bridgett, who was working her shift at the SideStreet Arts Gallery, then got home to crash before dinner.

The Banfield….. an ugly scar of a road with good views

Another fine adventure!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Across the Banfield

Dear Liza,

Multi-leveled tree

I wanted to go for a walk the other day., and Grandpa Nelson decided to come with me. It looked like it could rain, so of course we left the umbrella at home.

Walking through the Laurelhurst neighborhood, we kept a sharp lookout for early Christmas decorations. We had read about a family that got scolded by their neighborhood association for putting up trees and such “too early”. But we didn’t see any!

Puzzled turkey

What we did see was evidence of Thanksgiving and football loyalties. This turkey looks bit puzzled, as though he suspects his owners are not committed to his long term good health. His family also supports the Washington State Cougars.

Down the block we found this house with an inflated Bernie Beaver out front, so there is a lot of college football love around here.

Go, Beavers!

Going north, Grandpa Nelson showed me this nifty pedestrian bridge over the Banfield Freeway. It is very noisy, going over ten lanes of traffic, but gets you safely across, anyway.

Stairs up to pedestrian bridge

What is odd that the little bridge transports you from the tree-heavy, arts and crafts neighborhood of Laurelhurst smack dab into the middle of the bustling Hollywood District.

The Bustling Banfield Freeway

By now I realized Grandpa Nelson’s hidden agenda: Fleur de Lis Bakery! Of course, I was a willing participant. The croissants were lovely.

So much yellow!

By the time we walked back home, we had covered about 5 miles and were well worn out. But what a nice adventure into the fall colors!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Taking the Banfield to Edgefield, Part 1

Dear Liza,

Yesterday we had a road trip, going 14 miles east of home. We actually got on a freeway!  ( Not nearly as common for us here as in California). The number 84 freeway is also called the Banfield. We went out to visit Edgefield.

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Mt. Hood in the distance

Edgefield is a beautiful, interesting place with an even more interesting past. From 1911 to 1982, this complex of buildings and farms was the county poor farm, 292 acres of land where people came when they had no where else to go.

There was a real farm, with cows, pigs, chickens, orchards of fruit and acres of vegetables, which was tended by the folks who lived here. They provided food for their own tables, as well as to the county jail and juvenile facility.

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Main Building

There was a power station to supply electricity for the place. The staff had farmers, nurses, cooks, and administrators. The residents weren’t required to work, because some were old and sick. But if you could work and did, you ate better than if you could work and didn’t. The Depression, when many people were poor, filled the place up, and World War II, when lots of work was needed, emptied it of able bodied people, leaving just the old and sick.

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Gardens and Original Water Tower

After the war, Social Security and other social safety nets came into being, and fewer people needed to live on the farm. A hospital was built as the population got older. By 1982, the buildings were too old and out of compliance with safety laws, and there were so few residents that the County moved them to other hospitals and closed Edgefield down.img_7911.jpg

It stood, abandoned, for eight years. It was big, old, in need up repair, and quite a way out of town. No one knew what it could be used for.

Then The McMenamin brothers, Mike and Brian, who are known as The Brews Brothers because of their work developing the microbrewery industry in Oregon, came along. These men had, by 1982, created more than a dozen bars and restaurants out of historic, abandoned buildings. They had been successful in re-imagining spaces they felt were worthy of saving. In 1990, they saw Edgefield  and fell in love.

I will tell you what they did next tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy