Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bertie Tries Blogging

This is Bertie here, or Bertram, which is what the staff calls me when they think I've done something untoward. Those who think they're in charge claim I was named for Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, of Jeeves and Wooster fame, but my name was already Bertram when they came to work for me. My namesake is that famous explorer, McBertram McTavish. But enough of ancient history. While perusing my Facebook account recently (have you ever tried clicking a mouse with a paw? Obviously someone with prehensile capabilities designed the thing) I noticed that my picture was once again displayed for all to see. It occurred to me that I never get to explain my side of the story. Instead, all the poor unsuspecting public sees is what the staff, whom I shall also refer to as Mr. Jeeves and Mrs. Jeeves, has decided is of interest. So now it's my chance to say what's really going on and give a report of how the year was. Overall, Mr. and Mrs. Jeeves have quite improved. Although, waiting for five minutes or more for my breakfast is quite unforgivable. Still, I suppose everyone has their bad days. This particular incident was documented during my New Mexico travels. We stayed at the home of  Mrs. Jeeves' sister. I suppose in light of the circs (as Bertie Wooster would say) and being in unfamiliar surroundings, I should let little incidents like this fall by the wayside.

Our drive back was most enjoyable, even though I did have to share the backseat with Mrs. Jeeves. I thought it quite generous of me to allow her a full one-third of the backseat. After all, we Scotties can take up a lot of space when we relax. Mrs. Jeeves was even kind enough to share her lunch with me and let me look out the window as the scenery flashed by. I almost wished I'd remembered to ask her to pack my gloves and scarf. Yes indeed, a most enjoyable trip.

Once we were back in Oregon, I quickly returned to my usual rigorous routine. After a strenuous bout of calisthenics, it's always good to relax amidst a pile of much loved toys. Mr. and Mrs. Jeeves have finally learned to discern my "I want water" bark from my "I'm hungry" bark and the "where are my toys" bark. It did take a while, but I understand that we Scotties may speak with a bit of an accent.

My only real trial during this year, other than the occasional frustration with having to repeat myself numerous times to Mr. Jeeves who seems much more interested with working on pictures from his travels than my comfort, was my stay in hospital (I've watched enough British shows to say "in hospital" instead of "in the hospital." It's much more efficient). The doctor very diplomatically said I had reached an age where nonmalignant growths can appear and, while they're not dangerous, they can be very inconvenient. I had told the staff I didn't want to go under the knife, but they overruled me, or rather I let them. I had what I like to term a face lift. It really wasn't too bad, especially after I put my paw down and refused to wear the dreaded cone of shame.  Mrs. Jeeves was convinced I would scratch at my stitches and made me my own turban. It was very nice of her, although completely unnecessary. Nevertheless, I healed quickly and was soon able to wear my glasses again. I was quite happy about that because they had become increasingly difficult to wear with the growth on my eyelid and it was quite impossible to read without them. I had to wait quite a long time to finish the Hound of the Baskervilles. I'm just glad to be able to say he wasn't a Scottie.
Thanksgiving and Christmas were lovely. Mrs. Jeeves made me a new collar. My old one was beginning to look very tattered, not at all proper for someone of my position. My Scottish frugality must be wearing off on her because she quite refused to pay the ridiculous price of $20 for a plaid collar and instead bought a less expensive one and drew the plaid on herself with some markers. I must say I cut rather the dashing figure in it, and I can truthfully say it's an original.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Last week I decided that it was time to take a Friday off work. After all, it had been over a whole month since the last time I'd taken a Friday off so I figured it was time. Besides, it had suddenly occurred to me that after next week the malls and stores were going to be clogged with shoppers. As much as I love shopping (and those of you who know me can attest to this), the week before Thanksgiving suddenly seemed like a good time to get the Christmas shopping that couldn't be done online over with. The fact that the sun would be shining never entered into the equation and turned out to be a bonus. Unfortunately, the wind was also blowing for two of the three days of the long weekend. I have a strong aversion to wind. It must be a leftover hangup from living in the southwest for so long and putting up with what amounted to a sandstorm every afternoon during the month of March. Now whenever I hear the wind howling outside, all I can think of is the blowing dirt and static electricity.

Up here, it's more likely for there to be blowing moss than sand, so I made several forays down the hill to see what there was to see in this unexpected sunlight. One of my favorite areas is not far from home and has old farmhouses alongside newer additions. This area was once an orchard and there is still a large parcel of land in the middle of the neighborhood that, by a covenant or code of some kind, must remain in its natural state. There are pear, plum, and apple trees tucked back here, although the blackberries make them rather difficult to get to. This picture is taken near that now wild orchard. Something else that is rare to see during this time of year is a good sunrise or sunset. The sky and cloud conditions have been nearly perfect these last few days and because my apartment has a southwestern exposure, I don't have to go far to see a great sunset. The biggest trick is not getting hit in the head by a hanging flowerpot.

Saturday was much like Friday as far as the weather was concerned. After a nice run, I decided to go for another walk while the sun was still high overhead. Because of all the tall evergreens, it doesn't take long for streets to be completely in the shade. The only problem was that my fingers (which have circulatory issues in the colder weather) had turned white and numb and taking pictures was a bit frustrating. It felt like I was really pressing the button hard on the camera and nothing would happen. It's amazing the difference a little constriction makes in finger strength. However, after a lot of blowing on my fingers and rubbing my hands together, I did get enough feeling in my hands to get a few pictures. There's a lovely path along the Willamette River but right now the water is low enough to walk right along the edge of it. That won't be the case by next month. Sunday was the perfect day. It was chilly in the shade, but in the full strength of the sun it was quite luxurious and there was only the vaguest hint of a breeze. I decided to do a longer version of  Saturday's walk and went back to the same southwest Portland neighborhood. This time though, I walked across the Sellwood bridge and into Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. In the spring there's a purple haze of flowers along the floor of the park but this time of year it's just golds, reds, and browns. It's
easy to forget that downtown Portland is just a few miles away while walking through this area. If I didn't raise my eyes too high, I could almost pretend there were no high rises peeking over the reeds and bushes. On my way back, winding through the Sellwood neighborhood, I was struck by the number of flowers that were still in bloom. This was the perfect time of day and the sunlight shining through the red was eye-catching. I wish this weather could hang around for a bit longer, say until about June. But I suppose that's asking a bit much.

 This was taken on the way down to Macadam along a series of staircases that goes from the top of one Portland neighborhood to the foot of the hill. These blooms are going to get a rude awakening in a few weeks.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

(Mis)Adventures in Boating

Several weeks ago, a couple who attend the same church that I do invited me to visit them at their house on Oswego Lake and go for a boat ride. Here's a little lake history, back in the day it was called Sucker Lake (charming name, isn't it?). There are different stories about how it's a man-made lake but also was formed during the Missoula Flood. Perhaps the truth is a combination of the two. The lake is joined to the Willamette River by Sucker Creek, and there is also at least one canal joining it to the Tualatin River. In the late 1800's it was used to transport iron from the local iron mine down to the smelter, which was several miles away at what is now George Rogers Park. Now, it's a private lake owned and maintained by those who live around it. There is public swimming access, but if the idea is staying above the water, that's another story.

When Leon invited me to come take pictures, I jumped at the chance. After living in Lake Oswego for eight years, the closest I'd gotten to the lake was the "Duck Pond" in downtown. The view from their house was captivating enough, and I couldn't wait to go for a boat ride. However, the matter of a large bit of a canvas barrier that was part of the remodel next door getting caught in the boat's propeller, prop, blade, etc., caused a bit of a delay. While Leon was busy untangling the cloth, Sharon got out the paddle boards and gave me a quick lesson on how to ride one without taking a nose dive. Ever since I've seen groups of kids gliding along the surface of the water, I've wanted to try this. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, and after a few minutes I was headed off for a quick tour. I knew all those years riding skateboards when I was a kid would come in handy.

After about 20 minutes, Leon drove the boat out, free of its slimy canvas entanglements. We then headed off under the little bridge on North Shore Drive and out into the "big lake." And it was certainly bigger than I realized. As many times as I've run, walked, or driven around it, I never realized how vast it really was.
The sun was not in the ideal spot on the way out, but I wasn't complaining. Leon told me about the history of the homes as we went by and stopped to let me take pictures of anything interesting, which was about every five feet.

Things were going swimmingly (no pun intended), when all of a sudden there was silence instead of boat motor noise. After numerous attempts to get the engine started and attempting to flag down the only blind boater on the lake, Leon got out the oar and paddled us to the nearest dock. We tied the boat up and went up the stairs to find out who our new best friends would be. Of course, I had to take a picture because it was a really nice view. Unfortunately, no one was home at
either of those homes, so we trooped next door and down more stairs. The lady of the house let Leon use her phone to call the lake patrol. They are a group of off-duty firemen who help rescue boaters and patrol the lake to make sure everyone is following the rules. Of course, this particular day, no one was on duty. So, back to the boat and into the lake to try and flag down a good Samaritan.

This time we were more successful, and some very nice people towed us all the way back home. It was a much slower ride back, but it gave me more chances to enjoy the scenery.  The house below is also known as Casablanca, and for good reason. It was once occupied by Humphrey Bogart and his wife Mayo Methot, the wife before Lauren Bacall. We soon

 were safely back and thanked our rescuers, who happened to live right across the bay from Leon and Sharon. They were both so apologetic, but there was no reason to be. I'm now assured of more visits out there to make up for all the mishaps that happened on this one.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

To the Lighthouse

Yes, I know, Virginia Woolf already wrote that story. But in this instance I really was trying to get to a lighthouse, just without all the angst associated with the other story. One of my favorite spots in the area is Sauvie Island. It has a small lighthouse on an equally small outcropping of rock called Warrior Rock. The story goes that in the late 1700's a British Naval expedition landed on Sauvie Island and was greeted by warriors of the Multnomah tribe. There was some trading between the two groups, and the point where they met was called Warrior Rock to commemorate the occasion. The lighthouse, Oregon's smallest and one of only two Oregon lighthouses not on the Pacific Ocean, guides river traffic on the Columbia. I have had several past attempts at hiking out to the lighthouse and Friday's adventure was yet another failed attempt, but at least this time I actually caught a glimpse of it. With a little imagination, the lighthouse can be seen at the end of the line of trees on the left in the picture above. Well, with maybe more than just a little imagination.

I had decided that the first sunny Friday in October I would take a vacation day  to capture some fall colors. I was hoping it would be a little later in the month when there was more color, but when you live in such a temperamental state you take any sunny day you can get no matter when it comes along. So when this past Friday was predicted to be 70 and sunny, I put in my vacation request. When I left Portland around 9:30 in the morning it was almost clear. As I got closer and closer to Sauvie Island, it got cloudier and cloudier. I was not amused. I parked at one of the designated areas and started walking, looking for any sign of blue sky in the middle of all the gray. Finally, about noon, the skies started to clear. I sat on an old fallen tree eating carrots and humus and thoroughly enjoying the scene before me.

This particular part of the island has little traffic, especially this time of year, and each time I've been there it has the feeling of walking through a landscape painting or a picture in an old story book. This area has a trail that runs roughly parallel with the main road and then intersects it at a point where the other road turns to gravel. I was heading for this intersection and just happened to look over my shoulder to see a mountain peering at me over the canal.

Once the two roads intersect, it's a long straight walk to the trail head. There are numerous signs for Collins Beach along the way, which is a clothing optional spot. I was half tempted to jump out of the underbrush with my camera aimed at any unsuspecting sunbather just to see if I could get anyone to scurry away to take cover, but I decided I better not. After passing numerous cows and old barns, I finally found my way to the beach. I was going to take the trail out to the lighthouse and follow the coastline back but there was some trail construction going on so I decided to go out and back the same way.

 Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams (I just found out that the mountain I'd thought was Rainier all these years is actually Mt. Adams), and Mt. Hood were all out with their fresh layers of snow. I thought this time I would make it all the way for sure, but alas it was not to be. The beach soon became a sea of mud and the trail was almost as bad. I could feel my shoes being sucked off my feet and decided it would have to wait yet again. I'm sure the lighthouse isn't going anywhere soon and it will give me another excuse to drive back to the island next summer or spring.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Adventures in Bushwhacking

During all the walks and hikes I've taken in the Portland area, there have been a few times when I wished I had a machete in my back pocket, was lost, or just couldn't get there from here. Today was a bit of the former and a sprinkling of the latter. My initial goal was a hunk of what is called Waverly Heights Basalt in the Willamette River (I'm not sure if the basalt is named for the local golf course or the other way around), that is thought to have been formed by ancient lava flows. The current name for this hunk of rock is Elk Rock Island. The island is easily accessible at all times by boat but, unless a person feels like doing a bit of wading, the easiest time to get there on foot is during the summer when the water is low. In the early 1900's, a dance club was situated on the island, and in 1910 Portland businessman Peter Kerr bought the island from the Rock Island Club. In 1940 he donated it to the city with the requirement that it be kept in its natural state for, as he put it, all to enjoy. Kerr's own home was across from the island, resting on a cliff of the same basalt as the island. Now that the history has been laid out, here's what happened. I parked my car on the north side of Willamette Park, because traffic across the Sellwood Bridge has been hideous lately, and the journey is as much the point as the destination. I quickly got distracted in Willamette Park by a trail down to the river that in the spring is nothing more than a place to fall into the water, but at the end of the summer it's more like walking onto someone's lawn.

I continued along the riverbank intending to rejoin the trail later. But after about seven or eight minutes, it seemed simpler to keep going until I met with an unofficial trail back to the link between the park and a nearby marina and then the street to the bridge. The slight hiccup was that all the entrances to that link between the park and the marina had been blocked due to the construction going on at the Sellwood Bridge, and I do mean all entrances. I found myself below the wooden walkway that leads from the marina parking lot to the houseboats looking up at the imposing chainlink fences topped by razor wire and thinking maybe I should have turned around sooner. But never one to accept the obvious conclusion staring me in the face, I decided there had to be a way around this. And lo and behold there it was. The gate to the marina parking lot may have been topped by razor wire but that doesn't matter when it's not latched. I made my way through the gate thinking I was home free, only to be faced with a long gate across the entrance to the parking lot. It was the kind that residents have codes to, which did me absolutely no good. I walked around the inside of the lot looking for any kind of opening in the chainlink and, finding none, tried to figure out what part of me besides my arm, backpack, and camera would fit through the narrow gap between the wall and gate. I said a short prayer and right then, a resident returned home and unlocked the gate. He didn't seem distressed to see some potential criminal wandering around inside the area and I told him what happened and went on my way.

After that, getting to Elk Rock was easy. It was no problem getting on the island as the water from the spring was now no more than a few puddles. Trails criss-cross all through the island and around the perimeter. There were other people there enjoying the sun or the view, but at the same time it was easy to feel quite isolated.

As I headed back, I fell into step with a very nice couple who lived along the Columbia River in north Portland. They had come as far as the trail would let them before running into the island. We chatted until they turned to go a different direction and it struck me that if I hadn't taken so long to get to the island in the first place I would have missed out on their enjoyable conversation. The next time an apparent inconvenience comes my way, I'll have to remind myself that a momentary frustration can also lead to an enjoyable memory.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Herding Cats Part 2

When we last heard from our feline heroes, they had just arrived at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. The campus was lovely and was situated in the middle of downtown (although, Sackville is quite small and downtown quickly becomes the edge of town). I'm not sure what style the buildings were, but whatever it was, it was photogenic.

After checking into rooms and semi-unpacking, some of us went exploring (and running on the track to get loosened up). There was a waterfowl park on the edge of the campus that wondered through bulrushes and over a large lake/pond and through the birch trees. It was especially beautiful at sunrise, just watch out for vampires masquerading as mosquitoes. I spent a lot of time here in the afternoon after dancing all morning. A trail ran through the park and by way of a detour crossed over the highway and continued on indefinitely through "Middle Sackville" and beyond. Saturday was the only chance I had to really explore this trail and that wasn't for as long as I would have liked. It was mostly farmland all along the way with church steeples peeping over the trees.

Our week at Mount Allison wasn't nearly long enough, but at least it was very scenic while we were there. And everyone knows kitty's love scenery.

Next up - cat herding to Prince Edward Island.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Herding Cats from Oregon to Prince Edward Island

I'm unclear as to the generally accepted method of herding cats. I would assume it involves a fair amount of cream and catnip. However, in the case of human cats, it can be a bit trickier. Recently, seven of us Scottish Country dancers took a crash course in cat herding as we traveled from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and then on to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (or PEI for those who get tired of typing the entire name each time). The occasion for our travels was an annual event called Summer School that is put on by Teacher's Association of Canada, a large organization for Scottish Country dancers in North America. Each year Summer School is held in a different city. Last year it made its debut in the U.S. in Portland, Oregon and this year it was in the town of Sackville, New Brunswick.

The seven of us left Oregon early on a Thursday and arrived in Portland, Maine after what seemed like days later. Our plan was to tour parts of Maine and take our time driving from there to New Brunswick. The weather was not as cooperative as we would have liked that first day in Maine, and our trip to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor got about as soggy as imaginable.

It was still beautiful though, and my poor camera got quite the bath as I kept taking it in and out of its case. The rain had come down so hard that waterfalls poured onto the street on the drive up to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. We weren't the only car to pull over to the side to take pictures of the cascading water as it rushed down to the road. Another stop in Acadia was Thunder Hole. Whenever the right-sized wave hits a particular inlet, the resulting sound is a thunder clap that makes the Fourth of July fireworks display seem tame by comparison. The waves were in full force that day with the rain storms and I had to admit that if it had been nice weather, I would have missed out on this awesome display of raw power.

After spending the day in the rain, it felt good to go back to the friend's house where were staying and dry off. Some decided it was the perfect excuse for a lobster feast and afterwards we all played a card game version of Scrabble (and of course quibbled over whether or not certain words were really words or not).

The next day it was off to Canada. We stopped several times along the way and at each stop our cat-like characteristics became more pronounced. It's amazing how quickly seven people can jump out of the car and head off in seven different directions. Getting us all corralled became increasing frustrating for the designated cat herder. One of the more interesting towns we stopped in was St. John. It had a mini-Pike Street Market there as well as a number of interesting buildings and places to explore. Our course took us along the Bay of Fundy and it was so hard to stay still in the car as the beautiful scenes flashed past. I took a number of shots through the windshield, and I'm sure everyone in the car was tired of hearing the clicking sounds of the camera every other second.

Soon we were at our rooms in Hillsborough, New Brunswick, that is after a brief argument with Google maps which insisted the motel was located somewhere on a dirt road. The motel was situated along the Chocolate River, which certainly lived up to its name. I took a walk early the next morning and the combination of the pinky brown of the river against the blue/gray sky was very striking. The next morning we traveled to Hopewell Rocks, located on the upper shores of the Bay of Fundy. These are unique rock formations that, depending on the time of day, can either be walked up to or kayaked around. We arrived just after the park opened and soon the place was abuzz with visitors. It was difficult to get shots without people and after a while I just gave up. The lighting was particularly flat and gray but it was still a lovely place to visit. Sunrise or sunset would be magical. From there we drove on to Moncton and then to Sackville where we checked in for our week long stay at Mount Allison University. It was an absolutely beautiful spot, which will be covered in the next installment. (insert cliff hanger music here)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wide Open Spaces

It struck me yesterday, as I realized that once again I had planned too long a walk to possibly fit into one day, that the ultimate goal shouldn't necessarily be getting to the planned destination, but rather enjoying what there is to see along the way. Sauvie Island is a good example of a place where it's easy to forget about the finish line and just enjoy the journey. Yesterday morning found me yet again on Highway 30 on the way to Sauvie Island. This has become one of my favorite places to visit, even more so than the Columbia River Gorge, for one simple reason: wide open spaces. When I drove across the bridge, I immediately pulled out of the car to snap this picture of Mt. St. Helens. And guess what? There were no trees to dodge, no hills in the way, just farmland and a few trees to decorate the foreground.

After wending along past mown fields of alfalfa and farmhouses, I came to the first of many parking areas on this island that is a combination of nature reserves and farmland. I should have checked the handy dandy GPS to see how far it was to Warrior Rock and the lighthouse but figured it hadn't looked that far when I checked the map earlier and probably wasn't more than five or six miles to the trail head, add another six-mile round trip to see the lighthouse and it equaled a decent walk for the day. Except that, as usual, there was a slight miscalculation and after about four miles I checked and saw that it was going to be at least seven more miles to the trail head. Eighteen to twenty miles is one thing, thirty is a (very) far distant goal. At that point, I decided to look for a loop that would take me back another way so I could check out different scenery. The lighthouse will have to wait until another day. It probably isn't going anywhere any time soon. A dirt road curved off the main drag just past the beach parking area and took me off the beaten path into fields of yellow flowers (probably weeds, but they look good in pictures) and along a dirt trail that ran alongside one of the many lakes on the island. Here, except for the wind whistling past, it was quiet and easy to forget that there was a bustling city about 10 miles away.
The road made its way up a gentle rise until Mt. St. Helens was again on the horizon. That sight alone made the day worth it and it, and made me realize how blessed I am to be a desert rat in the northwest.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

North by Norhtwest

One of the things I've come to appreciate about the Portland area is its diversity, and I don't mean the politically correct version of the word that is so popular now. By diversity I mean all the different areas you can visit in one day within about a three-mile radius (in this case, forest, city, and island). This past week has been absolutely perfect as far as weather is concerned. Summer normally doesn't come until July 5, but at least for now it's here in full force. Since there was no reason to wait for the clouds to clear or the sun to come out, I headed to northwest Portland early on to begin an urban hike. I drove across the St. John's Bridge and parked in one of the neighborhoods across from Cathedral Park. Driving across bridges takes no time at all, but walking back across is another story. The St. John's Bridge is no exception, but at least it's got a pretty view on the way.
 From up here, it was very easy to see Mt. Hood wreathed in clouds behind the Steel Bridge, as if it just couldn't quite step out of its comfy white cloak. After crossing the bridge, I found the steps that lead up to the Ridge Trail, part of the Wildwood Trail system that makes an approximately 40-mile loop through Forest Park. There were glimpses of the bridge through the trees, and it didn't take long to be almost level with the Gothic spires. The trail wound its way up for some time (much farther and twistier than Google showed, how surprising!) until it joined Leif Erikson Drive. The word "drive" is misleading because really it's a wide dirt multi-use trail, as in bikers, runners, dads with strollers, probably even unicycles at times (the bagpiping Gandolph can't always be riding in downtown, right?) so there was plenty of traffic to keep one from feeling too lonely. There are also well-placed maps at different junctions to keep hikers from getting lost, well usually. There was one intersection where the signage was particularly unhelpful and it does no good to look for moss on the north side of a tree because moss grows on all sides and surfaces.
Enough sunlight does filter in to allow certain varieties of flowers to grow. I have no idea what the flowers on the left are, but they rather remind me of inflated turbans. Columbine also makes an occasional appearance, and it's almost always in this red and yellow combination. At times the trail had rather a Shire look to it. If it wasn't for the posts on the side of the bridge, you could almost imagine elves (and yes I know, elves aren't technically in the Shire) making their way over the stream and tripping lightly up the steps, as opposed to hobbits who don't do anything lightly with those hairy feet.

 I took a wrong turn here and went up the steps because I've learned in the past that when in doubt, go up. This time the "up" trail appears to have been a shortcut to the back side of one of the businesses along Highway 30. I retraced my steps and went along the trail that paralleled the stream. It was then less than a quarter of a mile back to the highway and along the raised sidewalks that are part of what used to be the community of Linnton. From what little research I've done, Linnton used to be a thriving town. That changed when the highway was widened and the roadside businesses became level asphalt. There are still some homes dotting the landscape and businesses along the east side of the highway but apparently it never recovered its past glory. One of the things left behind was a series of staircases and raised sidewalks that allowed the townsfolk easier access to bus stops and businesses. Those are on the agenda for a future hike.

It was at least a mile or so back to the car and on the way I explored the block-wide farmers market on the east side of the St. John's Bridge. There was everything from local berries to salsa and tamales and crepes. Good thing I didn't have any cash or I might have spent it.

Next it was off to Sauvies Island to pick berries. This past week, a co-worker mentioned that her daughter and boyfriend had picked berries at Sauvies Island Farms and that at $2 a pound, the berries were much cheaper than those at the farmers market. I'm not sure if the cheapness factor holds up when you calculate gas, time, and effort, but it was still a fun way to spend the afternoon. The island is connected to the highway by a bridge that crosses the Willamette River. Along the river are houseboats and the area is dotted with farms. I usually leave my car at the park and ride and walk along the road to whatever the destination is. It always feels like walking in a postcard, that is if you ignore the cars that whiz by on their way to the local beach. The clouds were just beginning to clear from the mountains and the fields of flowers made a great foreground. The sprinklers were an unfortunate distraction but you can't arrange real life very easily.

 After about a three-mile walk, I was at the farm. A lady at the entrance was directing people to the proper fields and giving out cardboard flats to hold berries. The road to the berry patch had a view of Mt. St. Helens and flower patches along the way. Lavender, daisies, hydrangeas, and lilies were growing side by side waiting to be picked and turned into a bouquet. After passing corn, cabbage, kale, and other veggies, I finally found the raspberry section. The berries were the size of medium strawberries and were growing in abundance. It was no time at all before my container was filled and it was off to the blueberry patch. Again, the berries were huge and picking berries in a civilized field was quite a pleasant switch from picking thorny blackberries on the side of the road.

On the way back, I was struck again by the beauty of Mt. Hood with the flowers in front of it. Ignoring the idea that I should put my cardboard flat loaded with three plastic containers of berries down before taking the picture, I tried holding the flat and taking the picture. Let's just say, it didn't work. I was down on my knees picking up blueberries when I looked up and realized this was actually the best angle for the picture. Someone on their hands and knees picking up blueberries and then taking pictures probably looked pretty crazy to those driving by, but if I ever see those people again they won't recognize me anyway so it doesn't matter.