sven went to ottawa for the international animation festival. i went with him just to explore. it turns out ottawa is lovely! i brought my little folding brompton bike and it was such a good decision! ottawa has an incredible biking trail system and most of it was flat. i indulged several times in the canadian delicacy known as poutine. and when i got back, i began to learn french. :)
[day 1: flight & arrival]
[day2: exploring the rideau canal and rideau river trails]
[day 3: flat tire in the middle of nowhere]
[day 4: cross over into ontario]
[day 5: rainy day for shopping, museums & an artwalk]
[day 6: final bike ride]
[day 7: return to portland and receive a damaged bike]
[bonus: a general map of all the biking i did in ottawa]
i still wish i had a better way of digitizing my sketchbook.
i was especially delighted to go to a short training in lebanon because i knew i would have plenty of time left to bike somewhere interesting. hence: silver falls state park! you can't actually bike around the trail of ten falls, but they have a little 4-mile path in its forested region, and then you can wander on these things called feet to the closest fall, south falls. the full ten-fall trail is over 8 miles, so if i return, i will want to arrive a lot earlier. but the south falls is beautiful!
silver falls was created after the columbia river basalt lava floods as the softer layers of sandstone beneath the basalt sheet eroded over time. i especially love the cliffs behind the falls. in fact, the trail is built so you practically have to crawl under them to get to the other side.
when i work down in lebanon, i try to find a ride nearby to avoid the rush hour traffic i’ll find when i return to portland. one day when i found myself off work much earlier than expected, i took the opportunity to try the dorena lake loop down in cottage grove. the bike path runs parallel to the road for over 15 miles: i didn't have to ride on the road at all. (so technically i didn't do the loop: just an out-and-back.) i wish more places had paths like this!
on the way back i stopped at dutch brothers for a coffee drink because it was late and i had a 3-hour drive home. the girl working there said she had been up since 4 a.m. because her senior class has a neat tradition: they watched the sunrise together on the first day of school with the intent to watch the sunrise on the last day of school, too.
the only regret: we got there 3 hours early and barely found a spot close to the front. unfortunately, that spot was behind the bar and so we missed the iconic moment when tribbles flooded out of the grain bin! so i'm using dang's photos and two terrific animated gifs from larptrek:
also, i made name tags for everyone:
we even had visitors from seattle! dang brought karen and afterwards brian had his picture taken w/ the cast.
Every year I have a birthday event at an appropriately numbered location. This year I took a bunch of friends on the 4T Trail: it's a loop around SW Portland using the Train, Trails, Tram and Trolley. It was appropriately epic for a new decade. This marks my 10th birthday in Portland!
Before we began, Sven & I stopped for donuts at Blue Star. I had no idea how long we would need to wait before trying to serve a bunch of people at brunch, and a hungry Gretchin is not a happy Gretchin. Good thing we did, too, because we weren't seated for 1.5 hours!
We began the loop at Tasty & Alder. One of the things I was looking forward to was the flux of the party as people joined us at different points along the 4T. I was surprised to discover brunch was the most popular segment! And they didn't even mind waiting so long to be seated (how I wish I could have made reservations! WHY PORTLAND?).
Afterwards we took the MAX (the "train" of the 4T) to the Washington Park station, where the trails would begin. I've been through that station, but never in it. As the deepest light rail station in the world, they had a lot of natural history elements, including a core sample from the initial dig. The elevator even measured its ascent by feet, not floors.
The bulk of the 4T trail is a trail through SW that leads to Council Crest, which is the highest point in Portland (and though I didn't realize it at the time, it's pretty cool to have been at the lowest point at the MAX station AND the highest point in the same day). Then it goes through the Marquam Nature Park on the way to OHSU. There's also a shortcut that uses the roads -- which we used because we wanted to catch the last tram down the hill and we were running behind.
Because it's a loop, there are two approaches to the 4T. We took this approach because taking the tram down from OHSU is free (and costs $4 otherwise). I was pretty happy the 4T included OHSU, since I've been working there so much the last few years. And so I was even more delighted when, while walking through OHSU to the tram platform, I ran into Jalex's fiance Paul.
The streetcar platform (the "trolley" of the 4T) is right at the base of the tram. We didn't get any pictures of it because on a Sunday afternoon that thing was PACKED. But here we are resting after that long walk while waiting for the streetcar.
The streetcar dropped us off just a couple of blocks away from where we started, whereupon we walked back to the MAX stop and rejoiced at our completion of the 4T trail!
We were also quite close to Saint Cupcake. Cupcakes are an important additional segment if you want to celebrate a birthday with cakes, candles & singing.
At that point, to truly complete the loop, we had dinner at Tasty & Alder, where we began at brunch.
To enhance the rambling aspect and to reward my fellow explorers, I created merit badge stickers for each segment of the party, recreating the icons from the 4T Trail. There were 7 badges in total, including brunch, dinner & cupcakes. Mine would not stick to my dress, but they would stick to my arm. Chris put his on the metal mug he carries everywhere. Michaelmas put them on higgledy-piggeldy.
None of this would have been possible without Sven, who is always supportive of my birthday adventures. Because he was the one taking the pictures, he's never in them, so I'm glad I could grab this one in the train station when we had a moment alone. He is the best gift of all.