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.

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