Stepping Away

Dear Liza,

It has been hot in Portland lately (though not as hot as some parts of the country). Also, Auntie Bridgett has been working very hard on her art fairs, an upcoming show at the SideStreet Arts Gallery, and her new Zine. We decided to take a few days away to cool off and re-charge.

So we took a road trip! Driving north along the Willamette and then west along the Columbia, we came to Astoria. This still-busy port town was founded in 1811 as a fishing and shipping port, the gateway between the US northwest and the rest of the world.

We had a nice lunch at the Fort George brew pub, enjoying sandwiches, cider, and other people’s kids and dogs, and then walked down to the wharfs.

We found an interesting installation showing the history and culture of the people from Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark who came to Astoria in the 1800s as farmers, lumbermen and fishermen. It included images of the maypole, viking ships, flags of the countries, weird and funny trolls, birch trees, and other iconic images.

This piece of advice was given by recent Astorians and can apply to all of us.

“As your ancestors’ sole reason for being, embrace the virtuous and use your gifts with purpose and generosity.”

We wandered some more along the shore and then decided it was time to cross the Columbia River for the next part of our adventure.

We drove up and up to the high point of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, then swooped down like a rollercoaster to the lowest part, just skimming the white capped waves. Whoosh!

I will tell you what we found over there tomorrow.


Grandma Judy

Tryon Creek State Park

Dear Liza,

While I was in Lake Oswego, we made the most of being close to a state park. Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Katie and cousins Jasper and Kestrel all came down and we had a fun afternoon.

Since Tryon Creek runs right through the middle of the park, the trails in and out of the park are steep : DOWN going in, UP coming out. You start in an ivy covered, sparely spaced wood, and hike down to a fairy land forest of mushrooms, marshy berry patches, and ghostly trees.

The park doesn’t have any picnic tables, but we found a fine fallen log to enjoy our lunch on. Right near it was a “seesaw” , made of another fallen tree wedged in between two standing trees. Jasper and Kestrel, with Auntie Katie’s help, got it balanced and made it work!

Besides the seesaw, we found, further on, a “slide”, which Kestrel came down and lost some skin, and a “swing” created by a very loopy growing branch.

There was so much to see! Katie and the cousins climbed down to a boggy spot and found wonderful fungi growing in logs, and we found more just growing by the trail. This would be a perfect home for some goblins.

All in all, it was a day to have fun and remember what wonderful people my grandkids (and daughter!) are growing into!

(And now one with just the girls!)

We drank about a gallon of water and had nice long naps when we got home. What a wonderful day!


Grandma Judy

Sunny Day, Sweeping the Clouds Away….

Dear Liza,

It was so pretty out Saturday, we just had to get out in the sun!

Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson figured out what we should do. While they got dressed, I packed a picnic lunch, and we headed off across the Willamette and south toward Lake Oswego. Looking ahead on the map, Grandpa Nelson found a park we had never been to.

Fanno Creek and footbridge

We drove through a forested neighborhood with Tolkien-inspired street names like Rivendell and Arkenstone to the Durham City Park. The trees are still bare, but tiny green shoots are bulging and showing color. We found a picnic table above the soggy ground and enjoyed sandwiches and fruit in the nearly blinding sunshine. People walked by with dogs and kids, scooters and walking canes. It was a slow parade of humanity, all out enjoying the sunshine.

We crossed the footbridge over the Fanno River, enjoying the sounds of the rain-fattened stream. As we walked around the park we couldn’t get over the colors. Ruby red branches. Baby green leaves. Buttery yellow Oregon grape blossoms.

We walked until we were tired, chatting with people about their dogs. We got back in the car, and I thought we were heading back home. But life is full of surprises.


Grandma Judy

Sauvie Island

Dear Liza,

The Tiny Sauvie Island Bridge

Sunday, we went to the farm. Several farms, in fact, and all just about 25 minutes north of Downtown Portland. We went to Sauvie Island!

This island is where the Willamette River meets the Columbia, and at 26,000 acres is one of the largest river islands in the country. It is almost all farmland, flat, green, and beautiful. We drove up highway 30 and crossed the tiny Sauvie Island Bridge over the Willamette Channel, which is only about 20 feet wide, and there we were.

No Partridge, just pears

First we stopped at a lavender farm. It was small, and the season was just over, but it was sure nice to walk around and see the flowers, as well as pear trees on the property.


We got hungry and stopped at Kruger’s BBQ for lunch. Friendly people, pulled pork, salmon sandwiches and corn on the cob put us right. Bridgett was in heaven, walking around in the incredible sunflowers, zinnias and chickens. She likes to talk to chickens, but these were busy and didn’t talk back to her.

Tall Yellow Joy!

Further along, Grandpa Nelson must have read my mind, because he found Columbia Farms where we got to pick our own blueberries. My farming genes must have wanted to get out and stretch, because it sure felt good to be out in a sunny field, picking the food I was going to eat. It only took about 20 minutes to get our flat full. We grabbed a couple ears of fresh corn for dinner and headed off. We drove the rest of the way around the island and headed back into town.

Happy Berry Pickin’ People!

On the way, Auntie Bridgett realized we needed a few things from the market, so we stopped the New Seasons in the northeast part of town. We found some new things and had a sort of food adventure. By the time we had shopped, we were done in.


Just waiting there..



Grandma Judy