Saturday, September 24, 2011

Oaks Bottom

My parents were in town earlier this week.  Instead of sitting around the house all day, I wanted to go out for a little Portland sight-seeing.  My folks have visited most of the usual places from previous trips, so I wanted to take them somewhere new.  I had an idea.  Maybe a hike?  Portland has tons of parks and natural areas with trails, so there was lots of places to choose from.  My Sullivan book mentioned a short loop through the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.  The thing I liked about this option was that it was in a totally different part of town, it was near the Willamette River, and it was adjacent to Oaks Amusement Park, always a fun place to visit.

Mandatory sign photo

Getting to SE Portland from the west side is always an adventure, and I love taking people through the maze of roads and freeway ramps.  But we arrived at the parking lot in one piece!  Before heading over to the Oaks Bottom trail, my folks, Denise and I paid a visit to the east bank of the Willamette River.  Sellwood Park is nearby, providing lots of river access opportunities.  We walked out on a nearby dock, and got a great view of the downtown Portland skyline.

My folks and Denise check out the Willamette River

Then we headed over to the Springwater Corridor bike path.  We had to walk down this path for a half mile or so before we reached the trailhead.  The Springwater Corridor connects the east Portland suburbs with downtown Portland, and runs along a good portion of the east bank of the Willamette.  It's a heavily used path, and we had to be on the lookout for passing bikes.

Downtown Portland skyline

The trail begins at a tunnel that ducks under a set of railroad tracks paralleling the Springwater.  We were led down a dirt path that soon meandered into a thick woods consisting of nice big leaf maples.  The day was getting hot, and the shade was most welcome!

Oaks Bottom slough

The vegetation opened up occasionally, giving us glimpses of the lake and slough.  Wildflowers were still blooming, and it was a pretty sight. 

Great Blue Heron sighting

In one swampy area, I spotted a great blue heron, standing still in the murk.  I fired off a couple of photos, but as I crept nearer for some close-range shots, the bird got spooked and flew away.  I got one last photo of Mr. GBH flapping his wings as he took off.

The Springwater Corridor bike path

After a mile and a half, the trail circled back to the Springwater Corridor.  To return to the car, we had to walk about a mile on this path.  By this time, the sun was beating down, and walking along shadeless blacktop wasn't much fun.  I spotted the buildings of Oaks Park up ahead, and suggested we walk over there to get something to drink.

I spotted this squirrel just hangin' out

Unfortunately, it was a weekday, and the amusement park was closed.  However, you could still walk around the grounds, and it was interesting to see the rides all shut down and the place deserted.  I found a vending machine and was able to purchase some water.  Aaahhh! 

On the way back to the car, I spied a squirrel spread out on top of a tree branch, and he looked so cute, I just had to get a photo.

Yes, we still have zucchini!

And of course no blog post of mine is complete without a zucchini update!  Yes, our garden is still producing like gangbusters.  I took my Mom out there, and she was amazed by the number of zukes hiding beneath the leaves.  We picked a couple of big hummers for my folks to take with them.  I think they're intending to foist them off on my brother Dale (who they're visiting next).

It was fun to have my folks in town.  Glad they were able to come out for a visit!


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