Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Leach Botanical Garden

So with this post, I am going to start steering people over to my main website, PaulGerald.com. If you want to read all about Leach Botanical Garden, just follow this link.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The View From Rocky Butte

Whenever I give folks my one-day tour of Portland, we always wind up at Rocky Butte.

Whether we’ve been up to Timberline Lodge, wandering the Gorge, or walking the city’s neighborhoods, I always want to close the day with the view from the little park on top of the Butte. It’s the best overall view of where we live, which after all is in a big city where two big rivers come together, seemingly at the foot of a big volcano.

Officially, I can tell my guests that Rocky Butte is an extinct volcanic cinder cone and that it used to be home to a jail, a quarry, and a Baptist college. All of that is long gone, in its place a quiet, grassy little park, surrounded by rock walls, littered with climbing routes, topped off by a cell phone tower that you’ll hardly notice.

That’s because Rocky Butte has the finest view in the city: west to Downtown, east to Hood and the Gorge, north to the airport. I love sitting up there in the evenings, watching planes come and go while the city’s lights start to twinkle and the setting sun paints Mount Hood in pink alpenglow. All at once, I am reminded that Portland is a big, international city, but also a small town; bustling, but with pockets of nature and serenity; by the river, but surrounded by mountains; and at the end of the day, just darn lovely.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Portland's Butterfly Park

I have yet to meet one person who knew Portland had a butterfly park. And even if you knew where it was, and went there, you might reasonably ask two questions: Is this the whole park, and where are the butterflies?

Well, yes, this 1.09 acres is the whole park. But for perspective, let’s have a little history. This was a gravel parking lot and dump for the Macadam Bay Club-m-in other words, just another patch of forgotten, drive-by patch of Willamette River bank, presumed to be creepy if not dangerous.

But the city bought it 1984, and starting in 1991 volunteers planted it with wildflower seeds from the Columbia River Gorge. Now those grasses grow among native grasses under dogwoods, oaks, and cottonwoods-m-just like a natural riverbank. The area is part of the South Portland Riverbanks Project, restoring 35 acres of wooded riverbank to natural, fish-friendly environs.

And yes, this was planted with butterflies in mind; in fact, the city says it’s visited by morning cloaks and orange sulfurs, among others, as well as birds such as cedar waxwings, killdeer, orioles, and chickadees.

To find this little patch of nature, park just off Macadam at the entrance to Macadam Bay, or walk south a few minutes on the paved Willamette Greenway Trail from Willamette Park. You’ll see an interpretive sign and an unpaved path headed through some brush towards the river-m-and yes, that’s the whole park!

But it’s a nice little park, and as close to a secret as a city park can be. You’ll probably have it to yourself, to enjoy the view of the river, of Sellwood across the way, and who knows, maybe even of a butterfly or two.

Web -- 7720 SW Macadam AvenueMain Parks Number: 503-823-7529
Free. 5 a.m. to Midnight. TriMet #35 or #36 to SW Macadam and Taylors Ferry.