Our dear Volkswagen needed some service the other day, so we drove miles east to the dealership. We had an hour to kill while the oil got changed and the tires adjusted, so we took a picnic, art supplies, and found a new park!
Ventura Park is a little over seven acres of grass and trees in the Hazelwood neighborhood of East Portland. It is on Stark Street, which used to be called Baseline Road. One of the 1850 mile markers is set in the corner, showing that it is seven miles from the Willamette River. These markers were set every mile along Baseline Road, which was the main road that farmers in this area used to get their goods to the markets on the river.
There are 121 trees in Ventura Park, many of which were planted back in 1959 when the city bought the land as a park for new post-war housing boom in East Portland. The website for the park has a map to show which trees are where, so this is a good place to learn about different trees. The 37 species include Blue Spruce, Ginkoes, and Deodar Cedars, which have aged well. The park has a foresty area, and also a baseball diamond and lots of grass for kids to play.
There is also something I have never seen before. It is a ‘pump track’, a small dirt ring track for little kids to ride their bikes on. It is designed with banked corners and small rises so that, with practice, a kid could ride all the way around without having to pedal their bike! We saw a few kids enjoying the track… some pedaled, some didn’t. They sure were having fun!
There is a smooth paved walkway all the way around the park, and we saw an older gentleman doing smooth, slow laps in the Fall sunshine. There are interesting stainless steel and stone sculptures, too.
We got a call that said our car was ready, so we had to scoot away. I hope we can come back to Ventura Park and see some more
At Tanner’s Spring Park, we all enjoyed the undulating fence made from old railroad rails and the paths paved with ballast from sailing ships.
The Spring itself rises through a paved circle and meanders along tiny streams on its way to the Willamette, creating an environment enjoyed by birds, insects, and lizards, and us! We imagined our characters shrinking to one inch tall and adventuring on the tiny “river” and flying between the tall grasses. My delight in this nature preserve surrounded by glass high-rises must have been contagious.
At lunch time, the kids agreed on sushi. We stopped at Sinju, where the ladies were very accommodating and made Kestrel mango sushi. Though she ended up mostly lunching on the crackers and fruit I had brought along, her roll didn’t go to waste: Jasper enjoyed his California roll AND his sister’s lunch. He’s a growing dragon, after all.
Walking toward the streetcar home, we watched it go by…but no harm done. It went by just in front of Cool Moon Ice Cream! A wonderful snack, Shel Silverstein poems (I always bring books on adventures) and interesting knit cow heads helped pass the time until the next streetcar.
Our energy was starting to fade as we watched the city pass by the windows. Crossing the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, we had incredible views of Mt. Hood with a fresh frosting of snow, rising like a ghost over the east side of Portland.
We switched from the streetcar to the Orange line at OMSI and rode it just one stop down to get off by Books with Pictures. We were all pretty much out of gas. The kids tucked in with books on the beanbag chairs, and I walked home and napped for an hour. Adventuring is exhausting!