Portland

I never tire of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

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April in Portland means flowers are bursting. They always bring a smile to my face. They also bring back amazing memories of my first trip here as a senior in high school in the 1980s. I bought my own ticket with money I saved and visited a college, where I eventually applied and graduated. It was something I controlled from start to finish: the trip, choosing the school, and eventually paying for the school with my savings, earnings, and a little bit of support left to me from my long deceased grandfather. It wasn’t much, but college was affordable in the 1980s for those of lesser means who got good financial aid packages. I was a very lucky young man indeed.

That life choice is linked partially to one fateful decision I made on that trip. I wasn’t that enamored by the school, but Portland had me spellbound. During that trip I took a detour to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, in southeast Portland. I was blown away. I still am every time I visit the place in April. It is funny to think what can influence your decision at certain stages of your life.

I took these shots with a simple handheld Canon, which was about as fussy as I wanted to be. I spent most of my time smelling the aroma of spring and feeling young and on Cloud 9. There is something to be said about memory linked to the senses, olfactory and visual, and what rekindling those senses do for one’s mood. For me the place brings me back to my earlier days when I chartered the kind of life I ended up living, where I wanted to live it.

Snowstorm in the Sellwood neighborhood

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Portland, Oregon just experienced yet another winter snowstorm. This one was the most severe of the season. Anywhere from eight to 12 inches fell in the metro area on Jan. 10 and 11, 2017. I knew it would be severe when I went for a walk the night the heavy, wet snowflakes began to fall. Wind swirled in all directions. My eyes were stinging from being hit by the wet white stuff. In Alaska, I skate skied in this stuff all the time, but here it is something different. It was definitely going to be a heavy, wet snowfall that would bring the region to a crawl.

I woke up at 4 a.m. on Jan. 11 to try and get to work about nine miles away. All around me I saw fallen branches, broken by the weight of snow accumulation. There was going to be a lot of damage from this storm, and roads would soon turn to ice. I spent four hours trying to get to work that day, all before 8:30 a.m., but I failed. A train and bus connection never arrived. My consolation prize was a few photos I took on my first outing and my second, when I finally got my buses. All told, I spent six hours commuting that day from Portland’s southeast Sellwood neighborhood, to Tigard, and back again. It did make for great scenery.

What you see are the shots of businesses along 13th Avenue Southeast and one looking to the city’s west hills, above the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. It is pretty, but if you live in a place that can’t handle snow, it can be a pain. Me, I had plenty of food in the fridge, some pea soup already made, cold beer, lots of tea, a cozy apartment, and no time to worry given my commutes. You just roll with it. I’m exhausted. I need some sleep. This was my consolation prize this week.

Fleeting fall colors as the last leaves float to the ground

In Portland, Oregon, the maples were sharp as usual this fall, from yellow to red. I found some lovely displays of random leaves on my car. I also saw other lovely colors, in hues of red, orange, yellow, and a rusty brown over the past week. Here are some shots I took with my point and shoot Canon and GoPro. Enjoy the autumn, if you have that where you are.

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Forest Park, when the last leaves fall

I was unable to run last weekend, so I took a walk instead in my favorite place to enjoy trails: Portland’s Forest Park. Most of the seasonal color was already gone. A few remaining maples and other trees had some remaining leaves hanging, like forlorn orphans. The place looks more wide open now. You can see through the canopy. Today, when I did a run, nearly all of the leaves had fallen. It is a nice time of year and a great time to be in this park.

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Reading the leaves … it must be fall

I took this shot this past weekend. It must be fall. I love it, but I will now need to start taking vitamin D supplements again, with SAD season kicking in. That is for sure. Click on the photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.

Scenes from bike adventures in urban Portland

Portland, Oregon has a lot of urban rides. Many will take you by jammed freeways, grain elevators, a working port, a refinery, and over and under bridges. I took these photos of the last three months. There is not grand unifying them other than the impression of what one sees when you get out of your car and on two wheels.

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Crazy kaleidoscope of colors at Oaks Amusement Park

During the summer, I head down to Oaks Amusement Park, the small, privately owned play land near my house. This is probably the most diverse place in all of Portland on any given Saturday and Sunday. There are families and people from every possible background here, and likely none of them very wealthy, because rich people do not visit carnie land places. It is also a lot of fun, even if you do not get on the old-school rides.

When I come down the hill to the noisy, colorful place I often bring my GoPro camera and experiment with different shots. Here is one I like. It captures the spirit of the place. You can see more photos and read more about the amusement park on my photo essay page.

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Sometimes, it is all about ‘right place, right time’

I have taken thousands of pictures with my point and shoot Canon PowerShot A2000 camera. I originally bought it after my last camera died in Indonesia in 2009. It is still working like a champ. I often can get great pictures with that never required anything more than me pointing and shooting. What mattered was the moment and knowing that the moment was telling me to capture it forever. This is one such shot I took at the base of St. John’s Bridge in Portland a few days ago. It has no meaning beyond being a moment, and a rendering of form and design, but in the most simple terms through that of a child. I love it, actually.

St. John’s Bridge, Icon of the Northwest

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St. John’s Bridge in Portland is one of the most recognized icons in the region. It was built using local dollars at the height of the Depression, taking two years to build. The steel suspension bridge connects the Northwest and Northeast quadrants of the city. Its towering Gothic inspired towers create a feeling of awe. When it opened, apparently elephants walked across it (if one is to believe the information posted in the park below).

It is showing real signs of decay too, with its concrete foundations crumbling in plain view. Cathedral Park at its base on the northeast side of the Willamette River is an ever popular destination for residents. Everyone always seems to marvel at the design.

The base of the bridge was once home to the region’s Native Americans, who lived on the river banks, harvesting the river’s bounty. Most of the region’s Native residents perished during the 1800s due to the apocalyptic impact of communicable disease and malaria introduced with the arrival of European and American travellers and settlers.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden bursting with color

Warm April days have arrived on the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is bursting into colors. My visit here in the 1980s was one of the most influential factors making me want to choose Portland as my home. It still has that pulling power for me.

(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)