Monday, September 24, 2007

Metzger Park: Kingdom of the Spiders

Metzger Park


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You can always tell it's fall by all the spiders. Huge freakin' spiders, everywhere you look. I ran across these particular huge freakin' spiders down at Metzger Park, near Washington Square. The place has got to be prime habitat for gigantic spiders, at least for the moment.

If my spider field guide is right, these beasties are nothing but common garden spiders. Just inordinately well-fed ones.

Metzger Park

Taking photos of spiders is a challenge with my puny little point-n-shoot camera. Its autofocus is arachnophobic, so spiders always end up as blurry blobs in front of nice sharp backgrounds. Manual focus was an afterthought when they designed the camera, and you have to twist a knob and press a couple of buttons to turn it on. Then you get a postage stamp sized region on the LCD that shows you what the camera's focused on, or it does if your target's big enough, and you squint a bit, and you're lucky.

Metzger Park

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that these are merely intermediate results in my continuing quest to take a decent photo of a spider on a web, similar to the third-rate squirrel photos I post here now and then. Focusing properly is one big issue. Another is that the little bastards just won't hold still for the camera. All you have to do is breathe on the web a little and they run away. I suppose it'd be a lot more worrisome if the spiders didn't run away. If a spider ever stands its ground, itching for a fight, I think I'll be the one running away, thank you very much.

Metzger Park

The spiders are only one of the park's many horrors. Ok, maybe I'm overstating that, but they did film part of a stupid horror movie here back in 1992. I've never actually watched Dr. Giggles, but I have it on good authority that it's a truly rank piece of filmmaking, wretched even by filmed-in-Portland standards, and that's really saying something.



The Kingdom of the Spiders bit in the title refers to another cheesy horror movie I haven't seen (yet), this one starring the one, the only, William Shatner. I'm probably harming my bad movie street cred by admitting to two such movies I haven't seen in the same post, but hey.



If you're in the mood for a bad Shatner movie, and you can't quite stomach Star Trek V, may I recommend the Shat's singular work in White Comanche. Ok, not precisely singular, in that he plays twin half-breed Indians, one good (and "civilized"), the other psychotic, peyote-mad, and evil through and through. It's a real hoot. Trust me on this.... But I digress.



I suppose you could count zombies as the park's third horror, since the mall's just a short drive away. C'mon, you've seen 'em too. Waddling from a Suburban to a waiting table at the Fatcake Cheesery, devouring everything in its path. Splattering blood and gore everywhere during a frantic 3% off sale at Nordstrom. Oh, the horror of it all!

Metzger Park

So anyway, I'll get to the park itself in a minute, if you're still interested. But first some flowers. Yes, there's more to the place than freakin' humongous spiders and crappy horror movies. Honest.

Before anyone complains, I realize I'm being patently unfair to the place, and I'm sure the park is in reality a perfectly nice and pleasant, if unremarkable, spot. I do realize that. It's just that with the spiders, and the horror movie thing, certain themes begin to suggest themselves. And, y'know, Washington County's extracted a fair chunk of tax money out of me over the years (although not at present), and my taxes went to support the park all that time, and this is the very first bit of enjoyment I've ever gotten from the place. So I think I'm entitled, don't you?

Metzger Park

As longtime Gentle Reader(s) of this humble blog must've noticed by now, I have this occasional and rather silly hobby of tracking down local parks, monuments, greenspaces, and so forth, and taking some photos and writing a few words about them here. C'mon, I already admitted it was silly, and I saved it for the end, so you have to admit I still have some sense of perspective. C'mon. Please?

Metzger Park

I'd been mildly curious about Metzger County Park for a while, and I happened to be in the area, so I thought I'd take a peek. I don't expect anyone other than me to find this intriguing, but Washington County has exactly two county parks: The huge one out at Hagg Lake, and this one. All other parks on the westside are either city parks, or part of the Tualatin Hills park district. So the place is kind of an anomaly in a bureaucratic sense, but other than that it looks like any other neighborhood park. I suppose it just happened not to be within an incorporated city or the Tualatin Hills district boundaries, so the county ended up with the job somehow. I recall reading some years ago that the county wanted out of the parks business, and wanted either the state or Metro to take over Hagg Lake. I imagine they also wanted to unload Metzger Park on someone else too, but so far they've still got both of them.

Metzger Park

I wasn't entirely accurate earlier when I said there were two parks. Technically there's at least one more county park, a place called Rippling Waters Park, located on Gales Creek way out past Forest Grove. If you need another little bit of trivia you'll probably never be able to use, I've got more of the story here, although (as usual) no definitive answers. For what it's worth, that same post also mentions Multnomah County's sole remaining county park, a nano-sized one it kept after handing all the others over to Metro. See? I told you it was a silly hobby. Possibly even a stupid one. Although not as bad as trainspotting, though. Man, those guys are dweebs.

Metzger Park

I'm afraid the photos I've got here will give you an unbalanced idea of the place. It's not just forests and flowers and titanic bloodsucking arachnids. There's also a grassy lawn for picnics, some tennis courts, a play structure, and a 60's-era community center building with some roses around it. Nothing here to go out of your way to see, really. Oh, well. Curiosity satisfied. Mission accomplished.

Metzger Park

Metzger Park

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