Monday, September 17, 2007

McIver Park foray

McIver State Park

McIver State Park

I usually start these out by saying "today's adventure takes us to...", but I probably shouldn't this time. I've gotten the distinct impression that basically everyone in town except me goes to McIver State Park all the time, and has done so for years. Ok, I might be exaggerating a little, and just everyone on the eastside has been going there for years. Here's a map -- the park is the V-shaped green bit just west of Estacada:


View Larger Map

So apologies in advance if I'm going on about your home away from home here. I grew up in Aloha, and we didn't head out to Estacada all that often. Basically never, in fact. I vaguely knew there was this large green blob on the map next to the Clackamas River, but I'd never been there and didn't know anything about the place.

McIver State Park

Ok, that's not strictly true, I did know the park had hosted the Vortex I hippie festival, I mean, "Biodegradable Festival of Life", back in 1970. Which I know because this city's thick with nostalgic boomer types who can't seem to STFU about the 60's, just like the way their parents go on and on about World War II every chance they get. I swear, if I'm 50 years old and you ever hear me waxing nostalgic about the early 90's, insisting they were the Golden Age of music and culture or whatever, you can just go ahead and slap me silly.

Of course there's a flip side to all of that. The only thing more tedious than people waxing nostalgic about the 60's are those prim bow-tie-wearing cultural-conservative twits on FoxNews whining about how the 60's ruined everything and must be "undone" somehow, at all costs. So don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not one of those people. It's just that poking fun at hippies is fun, easy, and mostly harmless. They probably won't even notice, much less care.

I think knowing about that festival colored my expectations of the park. I really didn't expect it to be scenic at all, I just figured it'd be a large open space where a few hundred thousand stupid hippies could squat in the mud and trip out to an endless procession of cheesy jam bands. I wouldn't have guessed there'd be high cliffs overlooking the Clackamas River. That doesn't seem very hippie-friendly if you ask me. Possibly that was the whole point. As the oldtimers love to remind us, the festival was organized by the state's Republican governor to lure the city's disaffected war-protesting youngsters away and keep 'em "sedated" while the American Legion convention was in town. If a few hippies decided gravity was a bummer, man, and tried to fly away off the cliffs, hey, even better. Oddly the festival seems to have gone off without any reported fatal incidents. Although it's entirely possible some random hippie just wandered off and disappeared and hasn't been missed by anyone for nearly 40 years. It wouldn't surprise me.

I've never been into the whole psychedelic thing, but I did take a couple of cool/weird infrared photos at the park. I think they're probably groovy enough for our present purposes.

McIver State Park

McIver State Park

A couple of links about Vortex I from out on the interwebs, before we move on:
  • "Vortex I or why there was no Vortex II", from someone who was there.
  • And a brief reminiscence by someone who lived nearby. Her reaction is mostly "ugh".
  • The PSU Vanguard's book review of ""The Far Out Story of Vortex 1", a recent book about the festival.
  • A recent post on the book's author's MySpace page noting that there's also a Vortex I documentary, and it's showing at the Clinton St. Theater this very evening (9/20/07). I don't believe in fate, but that's a rather amusing coincidence. Although I don't actually plan on attending.
McIver State Park

So enough about hippies, dammit. At one overlook above the river there's a plaque honoring Milo McIver, once chairman of the state highway commission, the predecessor of today's ODOT. The plaque was executed by Avard Fairbanks, the same sculptor who did the Campbell Memorial plaque at Portland Firefighters' Park.

McIver State Park

As fate would have it (if I believed in fate, that is), I was just down at Powell's Technical a couple of hours ago, and right there in the store's free bin was a book with Mr. McIver's name on it. I figured it was appropriate so I grabbed it, even though 90% of it consists of boring trigonometric tables. If that strikes your fancy, or you simply need to build yourself a standard highway spiral, ODOT has the current 2003 version of the book (or at least part of the book) here [PDF].

roadbook

roadbook

Heading up the state highway commission obviously commanded a great deal more honor and respect than it does now. Besides McIver, you might also recognize the name Glenn L. Jackson, as the I-205 bridge in east Portland is named in his honor.

McIver State Park

So about the park itself. There's an upper area with the cliffs, a large picnic area, and such, and there's a lower part down by the river. There are actually two ways down to the river but I only checked out one of them; if you haven't noticed yet, this is not really a comprehensive post about the park's amenities. I didn't play any disc golf, or camp, or fish, or look for bats, or go horseback riding, or float down the Clackamas River on an inner tube, carrying a six-pack. Although I saw a few people doing that and it looked like fun. Fashionable Portlanders sneer at the practice, figuring that it's something trailer-trash people out in Clackamas do, so therefore it's bad and couldn't possibly be any fun. I hadn't really given it a lot of thought before, but it was a hot day, and the river was very cold, and I can see the attraction. Haven't actually tried it, I'm not real keen on the whole "getting plastered and falling in the river and drowning" thing, although I understand that's an optional part of the experience.

McIver State Park

So basically I just wandered around with a camera for a couple of hours looking for photogenic stuff. I think I've mentioned before that the state parks department has started an annual photo contest, with the winning photos appearing in the next year's Oregon State Parks calendar. So I spent the day looking for material, here and at Bonnie Lure, the other state park near Estacada, with a side trip over to Fearless Brewing (which I mentioned before here). I later discovered my poor little camera doesn't have enough megapixels to qualify, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have used any of these pics even if they'd been eligible. But at least I'm getting a blog post out of the adventure, which I guess is something. And besides, there's always next year.

McIver State Park McIver State Park McIver State Park McIver State Park Heron, McIver State Park

PS, here's a heron I saw down by the river. Besides loading up on additional megapixels, I think I'll need to look for a telephoto lens with a little more oomph to it. I know I've sung the praises of "digital zoom" before, but it's really no substitute for having a proper long, if rather Freudian-looking, lens at one's disposal.

2 comments :

el patron said...

what kind of camera did you use?

atul666 said...

Just my old Canon PowerShot A520. I complain about it a lot here, but it says I've taken nearly 10,000 photos with it in the past two years or so, so obviously I can't really be that unhappy with it.