Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Whitaker Ponds expedition

Whitaker Ponds Natural Area

Whitaker Ponds Natural Area


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Today's adventure takes us to Whitaker Ponds Natural Area, on the Columbia Slough just south and west of the Portland Airport. The park is essentially two large ponds connected to the slough, surrounded by a fringe of low-lying land, which in turn is surrounded by assorted industrial businesses. The "Natural Area" designation isn't misleading, exactly but it's only true up to the park boundary.


Whitaker Ponds Natural Area

I don't know the full story of how this spot ended up as a park and the surrounding properties ended up as machine shops and such. I suspect it was just too expensive to bring in fill dirt to fill in the ponds. Many of the other ponds and side channels along the Columbia Slough ended up as golf course water hazards, so maybe this area just got overlooked. I suppose I could have gotten the full story if I'd gone into the visitor's center and asked, since unlike almost all Portland parks it does have one of those.

Whitaker Ponds Natural Area


The Columbia Slough as a whole has been abused, neglected, and maligned since roughly the moment urban development reached its shores. People who think about it at all tend to assume it's hopelessly polluted now, an environmental lost cause. I've seen enough of it to suspect that isn't completely true, but I'm still not signing up to go swim in it.

There are more facilities than you'd expect at a city-designated Natural Area, and the facilities are even well maintained:
  • There's a parking lot off of NE 47th Avenue, with a fairly easy to find sign.
  • A couple of docks, presumably for canoes or kayaks.
  • A well-marked trail between the slough and the west pond, with a couple of educational exhibits along the way.
  • An old house converted into the headquarters of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. Which may explain why the park has all these trails and docks and such.
  • The standard set of environmental education facilities, including a gazebo with a grassy ecoroof.
  • Oh, and if you follow the trail to the far end, there's a baseball diamond sandwiched in between the Columbia Slough and the east and west ponds. A baseball diamond surrounded by water on all sides is not the ideal place to hit a really powerful home run, or any sort of foul ball.
Whitaker Ponds Natural Area Assorted links and tidbits: Whitaker Ponds Natural Area

Updated: This post is now linked to by PortlandParks on Facebook. Yay!

Gazebo, Whitaker Ponds Natural Area Whitaker Ponds Natural Area Ball Field, Whitaker Ponds Natural Area Whitaker Ponds Natural Area Whitaker Ponds Natural Area Whitaker Ponds Natural Area

Royal Terrace Falls

Royal Terrace Falls

A few photos of Royal Terrace Falls, in Linn County's McDowell Creek County Park, near Sweet Home, OR. It's a rather attractive waterfall, and these are far from the best photos of it you'll see on the interwebs. The key problem is that in mid-July there just isn't a lot of water flowing over the falls, even in a cool wet year like this. The light was a problem too. Noon is rarely a good time to take photos, period, and when noon means bright sunlight from directly above and behind the waterfall, that tends to be a rather bad thing.

So we've established that I went at the wrong time of year, and the wrong time of day. But I'm just happy I finally managed to get to McDowell Creek at all. The park had been on my TODO list for a couple of years, and it's far enough away that I can't just go and do it on a whim before work some morning. So places like this are what staycations are for, assuming you define "stay" somewhat loosely.

Royal Terrace Falls

A miscellany of useful links:
Royal Terrace Falls

And some of those better photos I mentioned earlier: On Flickr: Photosets by Lhtnup & Cliff Zener, individual photos by Dave Putzier, Michael Karr and Ed Hodney. You'll quickly note that all of these photos show vastly more water going over the falls than mine do.

Elsewhere on the interwebs, you might also enjoy Some photos from Cee's Photo Art, A PBase gallery by fotabug, A 2007 photo from the State Archives, and a photo from nuffer.name

Royal Terrace Falls

Ralph Friedman's "In Search of Western Oregon" mentions the falls, and includes a vintage (or now-vintage) photo. I'm embedding that page here instead of just linking to it, merely because I've never done that before: Royal Terrace Falls Royal Terrace Falls Royal Terrace Falls Royal Terrace Falls Royal Terrace Falls

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pics: Wells Fargo Center



A few photos of Portland's Wells Fargo Center, the tallest building in town, and one that tends not to inspire strong opinions either way. Everyone recognizes it, sure, but I've yet to meet anyone who's told me they particularly love or hate it. Although I admit that's a question I tend not to ask very often. There's a comments section below, so feel free to chime in if you do happen to have an opinion of some sort.


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So you might be wondering how I came to have a big photoset about the Tower of Meh. It was kind of a retroactive thing, actually. I started wondering how many photos I had where the Wells Fargo building made at least a cameo appearance, and the pile grew and grew and eventually I figured there might be a blog post in it. Which was true, apparently, if this blog post is any indication.

In the unlikely event you're a longtime Gentle Reader of this humblest of humble blogs, some of these photos might seem vaguely familiar. For the purposes of this post, ignore the feelings of deja vu and the flowers or whatever in the foreground and just note the presence of the building. It'll be almost like seeing the photo for the first time, sort of.

squirrel, august 2010

squirrel, august 2010

As seen near Lovejoy Fountain Plaza. I haven't taken many photos of squirrels lately, but this one was glaring at me as I walked past its tree. It didn't run away and squawk at me, it just sat there glaring. This clearly went against the natural order of things, so I figured I'd show it who's the boss by taking its picture and putting it up on the interwebs. Take that, squirrel. Neener, neener, neener.

squirrel, august 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

korean tacos

korean tacos

A trio of tasty Korean tacos, from the Korean Twist cart at SW 3rd & Washington, downtown Portland.

I really haven't taken a lot of food photos, so this and the previous post are something of an experiment. These were taken on a park bench in Waterfront Park, on a hot day, at a point where I really needed to eat something. So it didn't occur to me to rearrange things so you could get a clear look at the other two tacos. They were basically variations on the same ridiculously delicious theme though.

korean tacos

korean tacos

korean tacos

korean tacos

korean tacos