Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kelley Point expedition

columbia river, kelley point park

shell, kelley point park


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So here's a big batch of photos from Kelley Point Park, way up at the far northwest tip of the city, where the Willamette flows into the Columbia. The city describes the place like this:

New Englander Hall Jackson Kelley (1790-1874) was one of the most vocal advocates for Oregon in the first half of the 19th century. In 1828 he published Settlement on the Oregon River, and nine more pamphlets on a similar theme over the next 40 years. A bit deranged, he spent most of his life bitterly trying to win notice - and payment - for having sparked American interest in the Pacific Northwest.

Kelley visited Oregon briefly in 1834. During that time, Sellwood, Milwaukie, and Oregon City were all vying with Portland to be the main city at the north end of the Willamette. Among these was Kelley's unsuccessful attempt to establish a city at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. In 1926 this site was named Kelley Point.

Kelley Point Park was originally owned by the Port of Portland which covered the flood-prone peninsula with tons of river dredgings. The site that was once envisioned as a city is now a park on an isolated tip of land.

columbia river, kelley point park

You'd think that the spot where the city's two rivers join would be a central location, but it's really quite remote, or at least it feels that way. Apparently the closest residence is about four miles from here. Closer by, it's nothing but shipping terminals, steel mills, warehouses, protected wetlands, the old St. Johns Landfill, the mothballed Wapato jail, and, well, probably a lot of other stuff I don't know about because I'm hardly ever up that way.

shell, kelley point park

I've been out to Kelley Point a couple of times before, and it's been on my blog todo list for a while now, but it takes what seems like freakin' forever to get there. People don't often realize this, because on everyone's mental map of the city the Willamette is ruler-straight north-south, and the Columbia east-west, but Kelley Point is further north than downtown Vancouver, and about as far west as Washington Square. Seriously. Look carefully at a map and see for yourself.

heron, kelley point park

So it feels remote, and it doesn't help that the secluded parking lot has big signs warning you to lock your car and not leave anything valuable in it, like the signs you see out in the Gorge. The remoteness is both true and illusory. True, for obvious reasons. It's surrounded by water on three sides -- besides the two rivers, the park's southern border is the much-maligned Columbia Slough. Directly across the Columbia it's nothing but trees, with a few barges parked here and there for storage. Across the Willamette is rural Sauvie Island. There's even wildlife. When I was there, I saw a beaver swimming in the Columbia. I figured it was just a nutria until it saw me and slapped its tail to warn the others. There probably are others -- I later ran across a chunk of wood on the beach that had obviously been gnawed by beavers. I also saw a couple of great blue herons, not that they're terribly uncommon. One was standing in the Columbia Slough, unwisely looking for something to eat there. The only thing you're going to catch in the Columbia Slough is cooties. The beach on the Willamette side is littered with shells that look like clamshells. I don't know if they're freshwater mussels, or some sort of invasive species off one of the cargo ships, or what. And then there were a few animal tracks I didn't recognize. Not a dog, clearly. I kind of hope it's an otter, because I always hope for otters. But it's industrial North Portland, so it's probably just some kind of horribly mutated rat or something.

Apparently they also get sea lions here occasionally, at least dead ones, for whatever that's worth.

animal tracks, kelley point

The remoteness of Kelley Point is also illusory, because immediately to the east of the parking lot, behind a razor-wire fence, is another parking lot, a monumentally vast one, full of shiny new Toyotas just off the boat from Japan. And immediately to the south, across the Columbia Slough from the park, is a gigantic grain terminal that usually has a couple of huge ships docked and loading up on wheat, destined for distant ports of call far across the Pacific Rim. When a ship goes by, the wake causes big waves along the beach, sort of a freshwater sneaker wave if you somehow happened to not notice the ship going by.

columbia river, kelley point park

tugboats on the willamette, kelley point

People do use the place -- it's got a big group picnic area, and restrooms, and there's evidence people like to hang out on the beach with a nice, cool, and technically illegal premium malt beverage. There's always someone walking a dog, because this is Portland. Oh, and apparently it's also popular in some quarters for, well, anonymous hookups in the underbrush. I suppose that's a step up from airport bathrooms.

kelley point

columbia river, kelley point park

So, uh, apparently this is the point where I provide the bullet-point list of "assorted items from around the interwebs" relating somehow to Kelley Point. That's the usual formula, and I'd so hate to disappoint.

  • Columbia River Images
  • Photos in at least two posts at "The Narrative Image"
  • A post at 8 second block. Incidentally, this humblest of humble blogs is actually blogrolled there, which is the mark of an uncommonly discerning mind, so I wholeheartedly encourage you to go pay a visit.
  • PDX Family Adventures says the big ships going by will amaze your kids. I don't know about your kids, and I have none of my own, but it certainly would've amazed me if I'd come here as a kid. Not that I've ever been representative of the larger population or anything.
  • travisezell, describes the park as "a sludgy industrial riverbed for fishermen and rubbish (old boat parts, the ruins of docks, plus your typical human folderol like tennis shoes, liquor bottles and computer parts)". I didn't see any computer parts, but I can see how that might happen, and he's got a cool photo of some kind of circuit board half-buried in the sand.
  • Kelley Point is Day 65 at "365 Days [and learning'"
  • A few photos of the park, and other spots around town, in this post on "Passing Perception".
  • madeofmeat: "Temporal fuckup and Kelley Point"
  • A post about ship spotting at More Hockey Less War.
  • A 2007 column at the Asian Reporter "Talking Story", involves the columnist wandering around the park, asking various people if they know the history of the place. Nobody does. But really, why should they?
  • The Zinester's Guide has a short piece about the park, just history, no photos.
  • An interesting comment to a post at Land Use Watch. Honestly, the presence of paved paths here is way down my list of local environmental & livability concerns. If the paths weren't paved, they'd probably just be impassable, soupy, probably contaminated mud most of the year.
  • A couple of posts about riding there at BikePortland.
  • The Urban Adventure League, or at least the main guy behind it, tried to bike there three different times and never quite got there. So, uh, I win! Yay!
  • A forum thread about fishing for sturgeon here. Yes, fishing for long-lived, bottom-feeding, heavy-metal-and-PCB-accumulating sturgeon, just downstream of the Portland Harbor superfund site. Yeah, good luck with that.
  • 1992 and 2007 Oregonian articles with much handwringing about low-income and immigrant people insisting on fishing here, despite the cooties and other environmental hazards.
  • A couple of posts that mention making pottery with soil from Kelley Point
  • Video of a party here on YouTube.
  • Back in 2002, the park figured in a gruesome homicide - the body, or parts of it, were found in the Columbia Slough here, in a duffelbag.
  • Oh, and Kelley Point was even the epicenter of an earthquake a while back.
kelley point Like most parks in town, Kelley Point is a popular spot to let your dog run around, and maybe blog about it afterward. A few selected examples:
  • Realigned Rain says the park is "not all that interesting", although the dog seemed to like it.
  • "For the Love of Water" calls it Dog Paradise
  • "Bella the Boxer" reports on "My date with Norman", with a video and everything. I didn't realize boxers were so tech-savvy. You learn something every day, I guess.
  • GoodStuffNW calls it Doggie Nirvana
tugboats on the willamette, kelley point tugboats on the willamette, kelley point Assorted Flickr photos, again from "around the interwebs" (i.e. from Flickr): anchor, kelley point park columbia river, kelley point park anchor, kelley point park columbia river, kelley point park columbia river, kelley point park columbia river, kelley point park kelley point shell, kelley point park columbia river, kelley point park columbia river, kelley point park columbia river, kelley point park willamette river, kelley point park willamette river, kelley point park willamette river, kelley point park willamette river, kelley point park

Monday, December 29, 2008

may demolition

demolition, park blocks

ING (demolition, park avenue)

So I logged in just now and looked at a couple of posts in the drafts folder, figuring I'd do the virtuous thing and finish one of them before starting anything new. But I got tired just looking at them, and the draft posts will have to wait for another day. Instead, I thought I'd raid the archives again. So here are some photos of an old building in downtown Portland being demolished, from way back in May of this year.

demolition, park avenue

Blogging is often thought to be all free-form, unstructured, and spontaneous, but that's not how things typically work here, at least not at the present time. The current formula for a Cyclotram post goes something like this:
  1. Pick out a place (or thing) that seems potentially interesting, go there, and take a bunch of photos.
  2. Sort through the photos, pick some of the best ones, touch them up a bit, and upload to Flickr. If a new photoset appears over on my Flickr page, it's often a sign there's a post in the works, sooner or later. But please, don't pester me about when the post about such-and-such park is going to show up. I don't need that kind of pressure, and I won't make any promises.
  3. Create a draft post with a bunch of photos, and maybe some skeleton or placeholder text.
  4. Add fascinating observations or amusing anecdotes about my visit to the place (or thing), assuming I have any. Alternately, just be snarky and disagreeable.
  5. Whip out the Google-Fu, and dredge up all the weird or interesting tidbits I can find about the place (or thing), add all these links to the draft post.
  6. Somehow whip all the ingredients together into a semi-coherent whole, hopefully something that someone out on the interwebs might want to read someday.
  7. Reread a couple of times, hit "Post".
  8. Immediately reread again, find a couple of things that need changing, and fix those. Optionally, rearrange the order of the photos on the page. This happens more than you might think, actually.
  9. Wait, often in vain, for the search engine hits to roll in.
  10. Repeat as necessary. Or much more often than strictly necessary, as I tend to do.

demolition, park blocks

As I've said once or twice before, the ingredient-whipping is generally the hardest part. That often means I've gone overboard with either the photos or the research. It's fun to scour the net and find everything it's possible to learn about the topic (at least without consulting any dead-tree sources), but when that results in a couple of dozen links to sort through and make sense out of, that becomes kind of daunting. And when you realize you've just taken over 200 photos during the latest "expedition", well, who the hell has time to sort through 200 photos? Who has time to tinker with any decent-sized subset of those photos? Well, I occasionally do, but it's usually anyone's guess when the next opportunity will roll around.

demolition, park blocks

Even now, I'm resisting the temptation to go hit Google and tell you all about these old buildings on Park Avenue, and the shiny new one that Tom Moyer's putting in to replace them. I could do that, but then this post would take longer. So not this time, I guess. I can always come back and add that stuff if it turns out I feel guilty about leaving it out. That's actually happened before. More than once, in fact.

demolition, park blocks demolition, park avenue demolition, park avenue demolition, park blocks demolition, park avenue

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

ice, razor wire

icicle, razor wire

You want snowpocalyptic? I've got your snowpocalyptic right here.

ice, razor wire

Ultra-Snowpocalypse™ 2008 II : The Sequel

snow, hawthorne bridge

ice, willamette river

It's come to my attention that the last batch of photos really wasn't all that snowpocalyptic, all things considered. It's probably fair to say this batch isn't very snowpocalyptic either, really. But hey.

The above photos were taken right around "sunset" the other day, and the river really was that color, briefly.

ice, willamette river

Here's something you don't often see: Seagulls floating down the Willamette, on a chunk of drifting ice.


snowman, portland

A crappy snowman I made the other day while waiting for the bus. Once it was "done", a family showed up to wait for the bus, and the kids thought it was adorable. A "baby snowman", they called it, and they built it a friend. Their snowman was much, much better than mine.


shelter, raleigh hills

shelter, raleigh hills

shelter, raleigh hills

Ice on the bus shelter, from the same wait for the bus. It was a long wait. I actually took these in a hurry just as the bus finally arrived, but I like to think they turned out reasonably artsy anyway. In fact, I feel I deserve a huge government grant to keep churning out reasonably artsy stuff like this. Or a huge grant from a big-name nonprofit, funded by some well-meaning philanthropic patron of the arts. That would be fine too.


snow, portland

City Hall, with someone's "Merry Xmas" message in the snow. It's gotten so whenever I see the word "Xmas", I always think of Futurama and Evil Robot Santa. But that's just me.

snow, portland

The stupid pioneer statue in the Plaza Blocks. I have a draft post about it sitting around half-finished; I'll probably get it done once the snow melts or something.

snow, hawthorne bridge

ice, willamette river

ice, willamette river

ice, willamette river

ice, willamette river

snow, hawthorne bridge