Monday, June 25, 2012

driving thru downtown orlando

downtown orlando
[View Larger Map] A few low-grade photos of downtown Orlando, taken last November at the tail end of my trip to Florida for the Mars Science Lab launch tweetup. Before driving through, I wasn't entirely sure there was such a thing as downtown Orlando, and even now I'm pretty sure I couldn't describe the skyline to you. I didn't actually stop; I just drove through on my way to the airport and took a few photos at stoplights. So I'd be lying if I said I had any sort of feel for the place. But I do have a few photos, and here they are. downtown orlando Being from Portland, I tend to assume the downtown core of any city is the important part. I automatically head there first when visiting, and I judge the whole city by its center. I have a feeling that by doing so I missed the whole point of Orlando. But still, now I know that downtown Orlando exists, and this is more or less what it looks like. downtown orlando downtown orlando downtown orlando

Saturday, June 23, 2012

mt. tabor, november 2007

Back in November 2007 I did a little experiment in which I hauled a variety of cameras over to Mt. Tabor and took photos until their puny batteries died, their puny memories were full, or their film ran out. Which didn't take very long, this being 2007 and all. I posted the Holga, JamCam, and Sears TLS (a vintage film SLR) photos here shortly thereafter, but never got around to posting the photos from my little Canon PowerShot A520, which was my main camera at the time. I ran across them while poking around in an old iPhoto library, so here they are, for comparison or whatever.

There are a lot of photos of the reservoir jets here, you'll notice, which is because they'd only recently been restored to operation after being out of commission for about a decade. I thought that was pretty great, plus this humble blog was still pretty new, and I was just getting into the whole photo thing, and there was all sorts of enthusiasm going around. I admit I kind of miss that. Granted there was other, less fun stuff going on right around the time I did the bag-o-cameras expedition, and I certainly don't miss that part. But still, overall it was kind of an interesting time. Sigh...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Upper North Falls, Silver Falls

Couple of photos of Upper North Falls at Silver Falls State Park. It's a quarter mile upstream from the North Falls trailhead, a quick side trip after you've seen North Falls (the main event here) if you aren't doing the loop trail. By "quick side trip" I mean it turns out I only took a handful of photos of the falls, and I didn't bust out the mini-tripod for them, so no tasty long-exposure motion blur goodness. Which illustrates a problem I keep running into: Creating a post is a lot easier when you have half a dozen photos you really aren't that fond of, versus a hundred photos you love and have to choose between. I'm not sure what to do about that, since taking fewer photos doesn't appear to be a realistic option for me.

Upper North Falls, Silver Falls

Don't get the wrong idea here; it's an attractive waterfall, and it's a short, easy, pleasant walk from the trailhead, and you already paid $5 to park there anyway. So unless you're really pressed for time, you might as well make the side trip.

Upper North Falls, Silver Falls

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Roses, Orange Square

[View Larger Map]

A few rose photos from Orange Square, one of the five tiny parks in Ladd's Addition that the city collectively calls "Ladd Circle Park and Rose Gardens". Ladd Circle is the traffic circle at the heart of the neighborhood; it turns out the four squares have individual names too, although they've fallen out of common use: Orange Square, Maple Square, Cypress Square, and Mulberry Square, all named after adjacent streets. Or at least this was the naming scheme the city proposed in February 1909. It's not clear whether this was ever officially adopted, as a number of the other names in the proposal weren't, like "Jefferson Park" for what we now know as Washington Park, and "Pennoyer Park" for Governors Park.

The whole neighborhood was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, and the official registration document refers to the parks by both these names and generic location-based terms ("South Park", "West Park", etc.), which aren't so much names as a way to tell the squares apart since the actual names never really caught on with the general public The neighborhood organization that maintains the gardens is probably the only group that needs to refer to the parks individually very often, and I have no idea what names they use for the squares. In any case, here's what the city told the National Park Service about this square in 1988:

Description: South Park is a diamond-shaped parallelogram, measuring 100 feet on each side, bounded by S.E. 16th Avenue, S.E. Orange, and S.E. Tamarack. The major organizing scheme, which adheres to the original plan, is a pair of wide turf paths bisecting the parallelogram. They meet in the middle, forming a small parallelogram. Diamond-shaped rose beds are located between the paths; these each have been subdivided by eight narrow turf paths meeting in a circle at the center of the bed. The varieties have been updated over the years, consistent with the intent of the designer, E.T. Mische, who, in 1912, reported to the park board that " rapidly as the newly introduced varieties ...may be propagated in sufficient quantities...they will find a location here in a representative mass. After they have grown here several years they are to give way to later or better introductions." At present, the park has over thirty varieties of hybrid tea roses, ranging from Etoile de Hollande, introduced in 1919, to American Pride, introduced in 1974. Cultural Data: Park superintendent E.T. Mische designed the planting scheme for the secondary parks, of which this is one, in the fall of 1909. In 1910 water systems were installed, turf walks laid, and roses planted. The parks have served, since 1910, to display various varieties of roses.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

French Prairie State Park

View Larger Map

This is the grand entrance to French Prairie State Park, an obscure little state park on the Willamette River, just downstream of Champoeg State Park and upstream of Wilsonville. The is one of the state's many obscure Willamette Greenway sites; they don't appear on most maps, the state parks website doesn't list them, and the only road sign indicating you're in the right place is the tiny one pictured above. I'll cover the Willamette Greenway park system further in a later post about a place I was actually able to visit. This one was "Closed for Winter" when I stopped by, even though it was after Memorial Day. The sign doesn't give any indication about when winter ends in these parts. In reality it's probably closed due to the state's budget woes, or maybe vandalism, and all they had was a "Closed for Winter" sign.

But suppose winter really has persisted into the summer months in this one small area, and there's a sheet of glacial ice here that isn't visible from the front gate, and ice floes on the river, plus drifting snow and so forth. What supernatural cause might be responsible for all this? Does a Snow Miser live here? Or maybe a white dragon from D&D has taken up residence. I lean toward the latter hypothesis, because white dragons are always chaotic evil, and that would explain why the gate is closed locked and visitors are quietly discouraged and the place's very existence is not exactly shouted from the rooftops. And the state certainly wouldn't undertake all these dragon-mitigation measures if dragons didn't actually exist, which to me is kind of a big deal even apart from the whole state park thing. It all makes perfect sense, right?

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

View Larger Map

Another Florida slideshow, this time from the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which borders and sort of overlaps the undeveloped parts of Kennedy Space Center. The tourist-friendly parts of the area ended up in the Canaveral National Seashore next door, so the wildlife refuge is mostly salt marshes and palmetto thickets, with no shortage of alligators, and mosquitoes beyond measure. I wasn't feeling much like a wilderness adventure that day, so these photos were all taken along the nature walk at the refuge's visitor center. Yeah, yeah, I know. Go ahead and make fun of me if you want.

One photo I want to point out is the taxidermied bird in a glass case. This is a Dusky Seaside Sparrow, which lived only in the Merritt Island area and went extinct in the late 1980s due to DDT and habitat loss. The bird on display looks outraged, and I can't say I blame it.

Mallory Meadows Park

View Larger Map A few photos of NE Portland's tiny Mallory Meadows Park, right on Killingsworth a few blocks west of MLK. The city describes it thusly:
Formerly a parking lot, Mallory Meadows is one of three parks in the King neighborhood financed in large part by a grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. Completed in 2002, neighborhood volunteers built it with grants, donations, and hard labor. One of the park's elements is a low, undulating wall faced with glazed tiles containing self-portraits of elementary school children from the neighborhood.
Mallory Meadows Park

The city did a great job of making a .15 acre lot look bigger than it is, with little hills and winding trails, like a miniature version of downtown's Pettygrove Park, which itself is pretty small. The design also does a great job hiding the busy street next door. Still, you can't totally escape the small size of the place. The first time I drove by to take photos, someone was sitting in a swing, obliviously texting away. Maybe it's just me and my antisocial tendencies, but somehow it felt like there wasn't room in the park for a second person, so I bailed and came back another day.

Mallory Meadows Park Mallory Meadows Park

Friday, June 15, 2012

NE 33rd & Clackamas

View Larger Map

So here are a couple of photos of the sorta-but-not-really city park at NE 33rd & Clackamas, just south of I-84. The city's full of tiny, unmarked, sorta-nondescript city parks -- they're sort of this humble blog's stock in trade, in fact -- but this area's owned by ODOT (the state transportation department). I imagine it was probably acquired as part of a freeway expansion many years ago, and PortlandMaps shows that even now it's still platted out into several house-sized tax lots. If the city owned it there might at least be some swings or a rose garden or something here, but ODOT really isn't into that sort of thing.

In case you're wondering how I even knew this place existed, it was once the subject of an Urban Adventure League picnic (and subsequent blog post) way back in 2007. I didn't actually participate in that, but I ran across it on the net later and figured the place sounded extremely obscure and therefore blog-worthy, and it went on the TODO list, albeit nowhere near the top. And, well, I'm reminded yet again that lots of obscure places and things are obscure for good reason. But hey, this place is finally off my TODO list now. So, mission accomplished and all that.

NE 33rd & Clackamas

Roselawn Park expedition

Here are a couple of photos of of NE Portland's tiny Roselawn Park, at the corner of NE 13th & Roselawn, hence the name. It's ok if you think the photos are boring. That was my impression of the place when I was there. The official photo on the city parks website is just as boring as these, and says nothing about the place except the location and standard operating hours. Which makes sense as there really isn't much here. The park's landscaped as if there ought to be something here, but at the present time it's just a bit of grass, some roses, and a mural on the side of an adjoining house that may or may not be part of the park, officially.

Roselawn Park

I stopped by on the same day I visited Sumner-Albina Park, making a swing through and visiting a bunch of tiny city parks in that part of town and taking photos for blog posts like the one you're reading right now. Roselawn Park is probably the least impressive of the lot, and there are close to zero mentions of it anywhere on the net, or so sayeth Google. Although the one Yelp review of the park tells the story of rescuing a sick, abandoned cat here. So three cheers for Roselawn Park just on the strength of that alone.

Roselawn Park

Sumner-Albina Park expedition

View Larger Map

Here are a few photos of North Portland's tiny Sumner-Albina Park, at the corner of NE Sumner St. & Albina Ave. It really is tiny: The city says it tops out at around 0.08 acres, or roughly 3400 square feet. It also doesn't have the usual city parks sign out front, and it looks very much like it's a small lawn attached to the Cherry Sprout Produce store next door (which has a lot of rave review on Yelp). But I checked the city's GIS system just to be sure, and the land is definitely a city park. So don't be shy, feel free to use the park even if you aren't shopping.

Sumner-Albina Park

The park has exactly one Yelp review, which claims that the fence around the park is made with recycled bike parts. I didn't take much notice of the fence at the time, so this might be true as far as I know, and it would be completely unsurprising here given how hipster-ish the neighborhood is. I neglected to check out the produce shop next door, but it has a bunch of rave reviews as well.

Sumner-Albina Park

A little patience for the conceits of Portland hipsterdom (i.e. things like decorating a ridiculously small park with recycled odds and ends) will go a long way here. If that's not really your thing, you'll probably be happier going elsewhere; here you'll be sighing a lot, and rolling your eyes, and muttering about how terribly precious everything is, and people will see it and think you're just being a big jerk for no reason, and they'll probably assume you're a tourist. So don't be That Guy, ok? Or if you're going to insist on being That Guy, at least please don't mention this humble blog by name. Thx. Mgmt.

Sumner-Albina Park

Thursday, June 14, 2012

reflected, whitaker ponds

Here are a few photos that didn't make it into an earlier post about NE Portland's Whitaker Ponds Natural Area. So yeah, I took these about two years ago and I'm only getting around to posting them now. You won't be surprised to hear that I have just a bit of a backlog I'm trying to work through. I still think this is better than running out of material, or running out of readers. Although some would argue both of those things happened here years ago...