Home Again, Home Again…

Dear Liza,

It was really warm the day Grandpa Nelson and I walked to Mt. Tabor. The grass in the park was golden brown from our unusually dry summer. Even the breeze felt more Southern Californian than Southern Portland.

California-golden grass And Grandpa Nelson

We enjoyed watching the people come and go. The cinder cone that is Mt. Tabor is a favorite for hikers and bikers looking for an in-town challenge. They are resolute going up and joyous coming down.

”Mom…..”

Not everyone is equally enthusiastic, however. One young fellow who was cycling with his mom kept up a steady stream of complaints as he rode up the hill. “Mom, you said we were just going to the park!” … “Mom, I don’t want to go all the way up!” … “Mom…” But Mom wisely kept riding and eventually he followed her up.

Lovely lichen


It was hot and dry, but the Pacific Northwest is where I developed my love of moss and lichen, and I was not disappointed. I wandered into some usually- shady spots and found several kinds of lichen flourishing on pine branches. The scaly bits will wait patiently until the rains return.

Pines, firs, and blackberries

Once we had caught our breath, we headed down the hill for hot dogs and fries at Zach’s Shack. A sparsely populated, shady patio and a Chicago dog put me right again, with the thirteen eyes of the weird mural watching over us.

Zach’s Shack back patio

Heading home we found new garden delights. Someone has created this hand-hammered, pomegranate shaped metal fire pit and placed it among blackberries and roses. I imagine it is wonderful on chilly September evenings, glowing in the greenery.

Giant pomegranate fire pit

And just a few blocks from home, we found this carefully tended tunnel of bushes and vines, making a cool passage on the by-now really hot afternoon. We appreciated it and headed home for water and a rest.

Lovely shady tunnel

Five and a quarter miles, and well worth the sweat!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Celebrating Health

Dear Liza,

Nothing makes you want to get out and about like spending a long day in a hospital. So after Wednesday’s eternal visit to the Emergency Room, I took Grandpa Nelson on a long walk. We went all the way to Mt. Tabor Park.

A fence with benefits!

Mt. Tabor is a 636 foot high dormant volcano right here in Southeast Portland, two and a half miles from our house. We started after coffee -and-crossword puzzles, when it was sunny but still cool.

Portlands’s own mythical animal

I love walking through new neighborhoods! I always discover beautiful and unusual houses, gardens, and …. well, things. These sheet copper fence-toppers, shaped like silhouettes of a squirrel, a dog, and Sasquatch, tickled me.

Who knew?

Further on, we found the Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum, with a small handmade boat in the window, as well as books and other information. It is closed for now, of course, but is delightfully dusty and quirky. According to the website, the collection is mostly full-sized functional replicas of traditional small craft, created by Harvey Goldman,” to augment his research. Peering through the window, I could just make out the outlines of more than a dozen narrow boats up on racks.

Yep, that’s the frame for a kayak!

As we got closer to Mt. Tabor, the hill got steeper, and we slowed down a bit. It was getting warmer and we were starting to run out of gas. We were thinking maybe we had violated my Dad’s rule of “only walking until you are halfway tired.”

We’re going here…. not all the way up there!

But we soon saw the long stretch of grass that is the off leash dog park, continued past the community garden, and found some shade. We sat and delighted in watching the world go by as we caught our breaths.

Grandpa Nelson, feeling shady…

Tomorrow, I will tell you about our return trip!

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Long Walk to Bipartisanship

Dear Liza,

Mt. Tabor in the clouds…

As you may know, there is a trial going on in the Senate to decide whether President Trump should be removed from his office. The Democrats have argued that using the influence of the most powerful position in the world to force a weaker country to do your political bidding is wrong. The Republicans disagree.

There are a lot of negative feelings about it. We worry about how our country is seen in the world and how this may change how we are governed. Grandpa Nelson decided that the remedy for this worry was a nice, long walk to The Bipartisan Cafe. There was a solid rain coming down, but no wind, and about 50 degrees…. pleasant for this time of year. So I said, “Sure!”

We walked East on Belmont, past lovely old house that is being restored, and up onto the shoulder of Mt. Tabor.

I was thinking about how homeowners living here must battle to keep their houses secure against the elements when I saw this, a garage that is almost completely hidden by ivy. I guess sometimes, the battle is lost.

Lost garage!

Further up the hill, we found this delightful mosaic covered tiny library! The roof, glass door and tile exterior make it beautiful and weather proof. It was a joy to see.

Little library…

When we had worked up a bit of a sweat inside our coats, we reached to top of Belmont Street. There was the paved road down, or an “unimproved road”… guess which we took?

unimproved road… nice!

Yep. It was a bit muddy, but delightfully rustic. Tall trees and shrubs leaned over picnic tables and little yards. This would be heaven in the summer.

We headed down the East face of the Mountain into the quaint neighborhood of Montavilla. It used to be called “Mount Tabor Village”, but the name was too long to fit on the streetcars. They shortened it, and the name stuck.

Gnomes!

Enjoying the window displays (gnomes!), we finally arrived at our destination, three miles from home. We were damp but victorious. And there was pie!

Inside the Bipartisan Cafe… photo by Bridgett Spicer

The Bipartisan Cafe is decorated with old political posters, from John Tyler’s presidential run to John Kennedy’s campaign in the 1960s. It is funky, comfy, delicious, and feels very much like home. It was busy, but we were able to find a small couch all to ourselves, and enjoyed tea and pie.

As we sat there, we realized that our feet were chilly, that it was still raining, and that it was another three miles back home.

Waiting for the Magic 15

We are adventurous, not foolish! We took the bus.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Navigating by Serendipity

Dear Liza,

Yesterday we decided it was time to visit Mt. Tabor. This is a 636 feet high extinct cinder cone volcano right here in Portland. It is covered with a forest and has hiking trails. We wanted a nice walk up the hill.

As so often happens, we got much more than we bargained for! We wandered into a fabulous event called the Adult Soapbox Derby. This is an annual event that happens the third Saturday of August here in Portland. Teams create vehicles with no engine, that are started by a big push and stopped by their own brakes, that roll down the road of Mt. Tabor three at a time. The vehicles are funny, beautiful, and whimsical.

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Catvan from Totoro

Dozens of people raced, pushed and helped direct people and traffic. Hundreds more  watched from the sidelines with picnics, kids, and dogs. There were food trucks, Frisbee games, and even dancing along the way. We sat in several different places, watching the racers come down, some really zipping along, others just barely moving, but all being met with cheers and applause.

Auntie Bridgett’s favorite was the Kraken, a colorful sea creature that squirted water at the crowd. There were cartoon characters like the Catvan from Totoro and Johnny Cab from Total Recall. And, there were ponies! A My Little Pony car was decorated with pink and purple fluff and driven by two ladies in pony costumes.

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Pony Car

We were glad we had taken a picnic,  because we ended up walking four miles, up and down and around the mountain. By the time the drum corps marched down the road announcing the end of the race, we were ready to find our own car and drive into the Montavilla neighborhood to look around and get some refreshment.

 

GetAttachmentThumbnail-68.jpgWe found The Bipartisan Cafe, a politically decorated place for cakes, pies, coffee, and interesting old political posters. Ice Cold Ice Cream provided Grandpa Nelson with a delicious root beer float, and we were ready to head for home.

So far we still don’t know which car won. But we enjoyed being steered by serendipity!

Love,

Grandma Judy