Sunday Parkways

Dear Liza,

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Grandpa Nelson and me on the Tilikum Crossing Bridge

Bicycles are very popular here in Portland. Not just to play with, but for people to get to work and school. The city makes this easier by designating some streets as greenways in the neighborhoods, where bikes are the main traffic and cars are discouraged.

But riding downtown or along busy streets like Division is still hard because there are just so many cars. So since 2007, the city and local businesses and hospitals have organized a fun way to enjoy riding in different parts of town. It is called Sunday Parkways.

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Just the place for third breakfast!

For the five warmest months of the year, one Sunday a month, in one section of the city, streets are closed to car traffic in a loop from 7 to 10 miles long. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett got to ride in our Sunnyside/Belmont neighborhood in May. Grandpa Nelson and I rode through the industrial and downtown area this past Sunday.

We started with coffee and pastries at Trifecta on 6th street, because every good day starts with third breakfast. I got to chat with a delivery person for B Line, a company that delivers Trifecta’s baked goods to restaurants and stores by bike! He said he liked being “in the middle of the future.”

When we saw other cyclists passing by (dozens of them, right in the middle of street!) we knew it was time, and off we went. The path for us was marked with signs and helpful folks willing to provide shade, water, directions and advice.

We rode up to the Moda Center, an indoor sports arena, where a bike fair was happening. There were booths for registering your bike, music, food, and a huge event with the Portland Trailblazers basketball team. It was so crowded, we had to get off and walk our bikes through the people.

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Traffic downtown

When we were past that, we continued ACROSS THE STEEL BRIDGE. It couldn’t be closed to traffic, since it is so busy, but we got one lane to share for the bikes going in both directions. Downtown it was crowded again, with booths and so many people. Think of it like when you go for a Sunday drive and everyone else in town does, too.

But the joy of riding with thousands of other people on a warm sunny day is no small thing. Last year, over 74,000 people rode on some part of the Sunday Parkways. That is about half the population of all of Salinas!

In an unexpected historical moment, we passed the Simon Benson House. Mr. Benson was a lumberman from the 1800s and 1900s whose good works have lived after him. He donated money for Benson Polytechnic high school, the land where Multnomah Falls is, and the wonderful always-running water fountains called bubblers. One of them in right in front of his house!

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Simon Benson House

Coming home, we rode over the Tilikum Crossing Bridge. This is the newest bridge in the city and is just for trains, buses, pedestrians and bikes. NO CARS, ever. We stopped to enjoy the view and chatted with some folks riding with three generations of family, and took each other’s pictures.

Back on the east side of the river we rode on the Vera Katz Esplanade, created by a former mayor and named for her. There was a band on a barge playing music, more treats and happy people.

The last part of the ride (as it often is) is coming back up the hill to our house. You understand that rivers are always at the lowest part of the land, and that we are 33 streets up from that. It adds up to about 150 feet of elevation change, which feels like an awful lot at the end of an 8 mile ride!

Finally home, we drank lots of water and enjoyed the wonderful cool rest of knowing we had done something very special, and very Portland.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Walking, Walking by the River….

Dear Liza,

Yesterday Auntie Bridgett wanted to get out during the day and write for her comic strip, so we set off to find a new coffee shop. We walked down Burnside past Heart and Grendel’s, and settled in at Ristoretto on Couch for some pastries, chai and coffee.

After an hour of relaxing, reading, writing and listening to some pretty weird music, we headed off again. We walked past some very interesting new buildings, like “The Fair-Haired Dumbbell”, and I realized we were only five blocks from the Willamette River. We had been talking about making time to walk along the river, so we did!

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Fair-Haired Dumbbell

But you simply can’t start a major adventure on just coffee and a hand pie. Wandering down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive (we call it MLK) we found the Sheridan Fruit Company. It is SO much more than fruit! They make sausages, cheeses, have a food truck, and a whole grocery store that has been there since 1906! The whole place smells fabulous. We shared the Seafood Creole Special of spicy shrimp, sausage, polenta and veggies and felt properly fortified for our journey.

 

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Sheridan Fruit Co., since 1906!

There is a huge freeway that runs between the east part of Portland and the River,  but with Googlemaps and patience, we followed bridges over freeways and under bridges and found the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. It is named for a woman who was mayor of Portland and in the Oregon government for years, and this wonderful path follows the Willamette River for one and a half miles.

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Vera Katz Statue Photo credit mygola.com

Along this path are water fountains, bubblers, benches, sculpture, trees, and even floating public docks to sit on and even jump into the river from, if you like. A few fellows did, and it looked like fun, but we didn’t…wet and drippy are not a good way to walk around town.

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Auntie Bridgett, me, the Hawthorne Bridge, and the Willamette River

We walked to the south end, just under the Hawthorne Bridge, and then north to the Burnside Bridge, up a long flight of steps, and turned east towards home. It had gotten warm and we were pooped. We walked up Ash Street and realized we had walked six miles! No wonder we were tired!

We sat on the couch, drank lots of water, and both fell asleep. After dinner, when it was cooler, Grandpa Nelson joined us and we…..walked some more! Just through Laurelhurst Park this time, not even a whole mile, but the breeze was cool and dogs and kids were playing in the park. It was worth it.

Love,

Grandma Judy

PS The flamingos are celebrating a birthday AND the eclipse! Check out this picture!

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Flamingo birthday/eclipse party