Hangin’ with the Rhodies

Snow drops looking lovely….

Dear Liza,

Once we got to the Rhododendron Garden, we saw all sorts of interesting things. First we met Chunkers the squirrel, who is famous and has his own Instagram feed. He is also a bit overweight, so the garden folks are discouraging visitors from sharing their treats with him. Chunkers does not approve of this decision.

Chunkers himself!

We also saw that there is quite a bit of repair work being done. As with all trails, the ones in the garden need to be kept clear of small landslides and built up so they drain properly. I’m glad they take care of these chores in the off season!

Path maintenance work
Early rhododendrons

We found the earliest Rhodies tall and beautiful, standing against the blindingly blue sky. The lower azaleas weren’t blooming yet… maybe we’ll come back in March to see the progress!

Ducks, out and about….

The ducks and geese that call the lake home were being very vocal and friendly. They are so used to people, they only pay you any mind if they see you have treats. We didn’t.

Stay at home geese….

There is a small waterfall on a tiny pathway and it may be my favorite part of the garden. It isn’t the sweeping views or the bursts of color, but it sings a cheerful song.

Bouncing waterfall…

When we had seen all there was to see, chatted with all the critters and sat on most of the benches, it was time for the next part of our adventure.

Grandpa Nelson, waiting for the train…

We walked through the neighborhood and caught the Orange Line Trimet train downtown, where we enjoyed lunch at Bless Your Heart Burger. Yummy!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Another Transit Adventure, Part 2

Dear Liza,

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Yes, it’s supposed to do that!

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.

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Urban nature preserve

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.

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Jasper of the Jungle

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.

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Knit Cow? Why not?

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!

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Mt. Hood with frosting

Love,

Grandma Judy

Another Transit Adventure, Part 1

Dear Liza,

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Kestrel at Union Station

The other day I got to take Cousins Jasper and Kestrel and head into another part of Portland I hadn’t been to yet: North of the Pearl District to Jameson Square. It was journey of transit and imagination.

I walked down to Auntie Katie’s shop, Books with Pictures, to pick them up, and we got on the Orange Line train. It took us through downtown and all the way up to Union Station, which was built in 1896. Being so close, I couldn’t help but step inside. It has been in  use for over 120 years, so it has been redecorated, but has kept that lovely vintage look…giant clocks, shiny floors, and neon everywhere.

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Very Vintage Decor

This train station is actually in my story of 1903 Portland. I had to stop for a few minutes to mentally erase the car traffic and picture horse carriages pulling in to fetch passengers. I love being in a space where the past overlaps so perfectly with the present.

We walked a few blocks between the tall glass and stone apartments and office buildings, playing Adventure.  This is an ongoing, free-style fantasy game, where we create our characters. Jasper becomes a human/dragon hybrid, Kestrel channels her inner baby water dragon, and I am the Grandma horse who can fly. We fight invisible foes and overcome obstacles. Imagination makes everything better. The high rise buildings became sheer cliffs as we walked through the canyon.

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Flying with Viny the Bear

At Jameson Square, we found that the water feature was turned off for the winter, and the waterfalls became cliffs to climb. We also found a stone bear, which Kestrel immediately named Viny, who took us flying. We talked about seeing what was on the tops of the ‘cliffs’, like gardens, helicopter landing places, and barbecues.

The passage to Tanner’s Square Park is a lovely paved path lined with camellias, but Jasper named it Marauder’s Passage and found all sorts of pitfalls to make it interesting.

Viny the bear became invisible came along with us, reminding me of how the Panther at Hartnell College walks along with you and me as we adventure in Salinas.

I will tell you about the rest of our adventure tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy