During the past year I discovered the writings and videos of British adventurer Alistair Humphreys. He biked around the world, wrote a book about it, and then turned that into a career of motivational speaking, media production, and discovery. I like his spirit. I like his style. So, Alistair, I am totally ripping you off here, even stealing your term (well, just this once) for this short video highlighting a great trail near Portland. I came to Wahkeena Falls a year ago and loved the place. It is a steep climb up a great trail on the Columbia River Gorge, about 30 miles from downtown Portland. This trail climbs more than 2,000 feet in elevation and provides a few great views of the Gorge. In the spirit of Alistair, I am branding this a “microadventure” because it really is. I will develop my own branding later. Hope you are not too tweaked about this, mate. Mimicry is a form of flattery, as they say.
It was a beautiful weekend, and I took advantage of the nice weather by doing one of my favorite bike rides to Skyline Boulevard and down Germantown Road, starting from my home in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland. This is a classic ride.
On the last day of 2014, Mt. Hood finally had great ski conditions. I headed up to Teacup Nordic, the closest groomed nordic trails near Portland and got my last good runs of the old year. To anyone out there who thinks Nordic is for geezers or losers, you should give skate skiing a try. It will kick your ass into shape on the flats and uphills and will have you grinning like a bear in a salmon stream when you rip down a groomed trail. Happy trails, skiers.
I made this video in 2013, a year before GoPro came out with its own line of harnesses designed especially for dogs. Other companies were already out of the gate, but all I had at the time was a human head harness. I enlisted the help of my neighbor and her best buddy and my good friend, Balloo. Balloo was a trooper and tolerated the indignity of a loose fitting harness. We got a few good shots playing catch. I saw both owner and Balloo again at Thanksgiving, and Balloo cried when he saw me. He is such a goooooood boy!
Teacup Lake is a groomed cross country ski area on Mt. Hood. Trails are groomed and maintained by Teacup Lake chapter of the Oregon Nordic Club. The season opened early last weekend, but the snow was the typical Cascades wet, heavy glop. This week, warm weather will delay the re-opening. Here is a video I put together of the Hood River Road Trail, one of the few groomed trails open when I skied (Nov. 23). One reason I love skate skiing is because I get to combine screaming downhill fun and hard work required to skate ski and particularly climb hills, or the lung-busters. Hope you get out of town whereever you are and enjoy winter.
A colleague I know who grew up in Portland described the Alberta Street of his youth as a place his mom told him not to visit. It was not that friendly. It was in an area that used to be defined by low-wage earning residents, clear social and crime problems, and inattention by the City of Portland. The story is a long one, involving the building of a nearby interstate, the demolition of African American residences nearby, a great flood in 1948, and the emergence of the new Portland in the late 1990s.
Today the street is a local if not national darling of Portland’s vaunted urban revitalization. There are plenty of restaurants, small business, and cafes. I tried to go to a boulangerie last weekend, when I filmed this video, but it was packed. Northeast Portland also use to have a lot more African American residents. That is no longer the case. There remains plenty of buzz about this place. I say, take a look for yourself. Do not let the hype or even this video sway your mind. Decide for yourself. It is most defnitely a shining star of the Portland I know, as Portland would define things.
Oswald West State Park is a popular surfing beach in northwest Oregon, south of the more upscale and popular Canon Beach. You will need a wet suit, as we are talking water that is always less than 60 F. The day I visited (Nov. 9, 2014), I saw a lot of novices and not a single clean ride. The ocean was choppy and the surf erratic. No one seemed to mind. Everyone was enjoying the vibe. You can see a bigger version of the video here.
I visited Temecula in September and enjoyed myself. I could not imagine living here, but people love all that sun. It is a brutally hot place, and yet even amid the worst drought ever, lawns are green and everything looks like the Midwest, if you ignore the thermometer and the rock and scrub mountains that surround it. Probaby a few Beaver and Wally Cleavers live here. You cannot survive here or function without a car. Period.
The Fremont Fair is now an annual tradition in Seattle, made famous by nude bicyclists. No, I am not going to show photographs of nude bikers. If you want to see those, you can use Google images, and you can find plenty of them. Instead, I wanted to highlight a number of the groups who put on this show for free every year, including kids, dancers, and lots of really good horn players and drummers. It is not quite Carnival in Rio, but for this place, it is what the locals do to fly their exhibitionist and performing artists flags and welcome summer.