Gateway Discovery Park

Dear Liza,

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The Fifth Wind

After walking in a light rain around the Leach Botanical Garden, we were hungry. Dairy Queen to the rescue! The restorative powers of ice cream and french fries always amazes me.

We visited the Cedar Crossing covered bridge (who knew there were covered bridges in Portland?) which crosses Johnson Creek. It feels more like the Connecticut countryside than suburban Portland, and is lovely. It was built in 1982 and feels wonderfully historic.

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Cedar Crossing Covered Bridge

Then Grandpa Nelson had another surprise up his sleeve, and we drove north about 4 miles to Gateway Discovery Park, which the city of Portland calls the “newest urban park”, as it just opened in August of this year.

This four acre park and plaza has newly planted trees, a fountain, a covered meeting and arts and crafts area, an open, grassy play area, creative sand play area, climby toys, adult exercise equipment, and a skate park, all laid out in a shared space.

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Great Sand Play Area!

We wandered from bit to bit, chatting and watching families enjoy their favorite spots. I loved how involved and happy everyone was in their own activities. There was plenty of room for everyone.

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Scooter on the Edge

The park is on the corner of NE Halsey and 106th, and there is lots of street parking. The main area is marked by a piece of steel and stained glass art called The Fifth Wind.

I wonder if I will ever run out of new things to see. I hope not!

Love,

Grandma Judy

OMSI

Dear Liza,

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We’re Here!

Yesterday Cousins Jasper and Kestrel and I went to OMSI, The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It is only one train stop from their house and we spent the whole day there! At the train stop, we met a nice lady named Maria and her son Josue. They mostly spoke Spanish, so I got to practice speaking Spanish for a while. They met some friends and off they went.

The Museum moved from Washington Park, where the Zoo and Rose Test Garden are, to the current site on the east bank of the Willamette River, in 1992. It has a Planetarium, space capsule, a hall for changing exhibits, and a large hands-on room called Turbine Hall.

We started with a visit to the temporary exhibit on The Robot Revolution. The first floor was very informative, and we read a lot about how robots are built, how they ‘learn’ new information, and how they move. There was a small soccer filed sort of area where two robots were trying to score goals while another robot tried to block them. We could even make robots move, like this big spider walking one, or a robot about 10 inches tall who was programmed to do different moves, like push-ups, headstands, or wave.

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Big Spider Robot
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Learning by Watching, then Doing

Upstairs, the exhibits were much more hands-on. Kestrel played tic tac toe against a robot, and mostly played to a tie. She used “grippers”, what robots use for hands, and had to do a lot of figuring out to make them work. It was great to watch her brain work!

While Kestrel was doing these things, Jasper was building robots with Cubelets. These are, as you might guess, cubes that you put together to make robots. Each cube has a different job: battery, mover, light, rotator. By putting the different cubes together in different order, you can make robots that move, light up, or other things. Jasper worked on these for almost an hour, finally creating a robot different from anyone else’s, that walked in a weird wobbly fashion while lighting up.

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Jasper’s Robot

We bought lunch in the cafeteria, pizza and fruit juices, and ate on the patio that looks out over the river between the Tilikum Crossing Bridge and the Marquam Bridge. It was a very pretty day, so there were lots of bicyclists, joggers, and boats to watch, as well as cars and trucks on the Marquam and trains on the Tillikum, which is only for mass transit, walkers and bikes.

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Tillikum Crossing

After lunch we visited another part of the museum, Turbine Hall. This is a room almost as big as a football field, full of hands-on activities to study air pressure, gravity, wind, sound,water and engineering. The exhibits are so well designed that if a child can reach it, they can be successful at some level at it. Kestrel enjoyed exploring the wind and water areas, while Jasper enjoyed working with other kids to build an arch or make a machine play Score Four. There aren’t any pictures of Jasper because he hates having his picture taken.

We stayed at the Museum until almost 5 o’clock, and there wasn’t a cross word or bored moment. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Portland with children!

We left in time to make dinner and feed the cousins and Auntie Katie when she got home from Books with Pictures.

What a wonderful day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

The Laurelhurst Neighborhood

Dear Liza,

Today, while Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett were working, I went for a walk around the Laurelhurst neighborhood. It is just next to our Kerns neighborhood and very shady and pretty.

There is Laurelhurst Park, which I have told you about, 31 acres of maple, fir, oak and elm trees with places for kids to play and dogs to run, as well as a small lake for ducks and turtles, picnic tables and toys to climb on. The Park was built in 1909,  and the trees were planted then, because this land had been a farm. So these giant trees are “only” one hundred years old.  The Park was made by a landscape architect named Emanuel Mische. The hills and valleys of the land helped him make it feel like a forest and not just flat land with trees. It is my favorite place in Portland.

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Lovely old tree in Laurelhurst Park

 

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Sunlight through leaves

Back when the park was new, boys and girls played very different games from each other and didn’t play together as much as you do now. The south side of the play area was “for boys”, and the north side was “for girls”. I will have to do some more reading and learn what games they played. Now, everyone plays together, however they like.

While the park was being planted, houses were being built on land that had been William Ladd’s Hazelfern Farm. Mr. Ladd had been a mayor of Portland, and when he died, his family sold the land to the Laurelhurst Company to develop a neighborhood. It was built right along the streetcar lines, so it was easy to get to from Downtown Portland. This was before many people had cars, so they rode horses, walked, or took streetcars to get around.

Before the building started, the Laurelhurst Company put up sandstone arches at the entrances to the neighborhood. These made the place feel very special, even when it was just hills and dirt.

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The houses people built were very different from the house you have in Salinas. There are Bungalow Style, Spanish Revival, a very pretty style called Fairy Tale, and many others. Some houses are a combination of styles, so it is hard to give them all names. Sort of like if one of your Little Ponies had a crown on her head, butterfly wings, and strawberries on her bottom!

 

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Bungalow Style

thumbnail_FullSizeRender-5.jpg Spanish Revival Style

 

The building started in 1910 and in six years, 500 houses had been built. In another ten years, there were only about 20 empty lots left to build on!

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Fairy Tale Style

This was a very popular place to live. It was far enough out of town to be quiet and peaceful, but the streetcar made it easy to get to.

Coe Circle was a grassy park in the middle of the Neighborhood, and the streets go in curvy lines around it, very different from the straight streets in most of the rest of Portland. The streetcar ran right to the Circle and turned around to go back into town. In 1925, Henry Waldo Coe, a doctor who lived in Portland, wanted to give a gift to the city. He bought a copy of a statue of Joan of Arc, a famous French heroine, and had it placed in Coe Circle. It wasn’t put in the middle of the circle, because the streetcar tracks were there! The streetcar line was removed in 1925, but the statue is still off-center.

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Joan of Arc Statue

I walked for about an hour, got tired and came home to read more about what I had seen, and make lunch.

Love,

Grandma Judy