With 31 days of summer left, I’m starting to feel like I’m running out of time to experience all the summer stuff I love. But I feel like this every year. Summer in Oregon is pretty much the best thing ever.
My summer list is a little Portland-centric, so feel free to replace things with your local, summer fun time places and things.
I’m bolding the stuff I still want to check off!
This week marks the official start to summer! As the weather heats up – yes, it gets into the 90s in Portland – city folk run for the Oregon coast and the nearest rivers. If you’ve been dreaming of a leisurely day on the water, here’s everything you need to know to get out on one of our many rivers.
While there are many rivers that you can swim and play in near Portland (including parts of the Columbia and the Willamette), if you want to do a proper float — from point A to point B — your best bet is to head to the Sandy River or the Clackamas River. Both rivers have several parks that you can base yourself from and either swim/wade in the water or go tubing. The Sandy is a little closer to central Portland, but the Clackamas is my favorite. You can also float on the Willamette River in July during The Big Float event.
First, you’ll need two cars if you plan to float from one park to the next (your other option is to bike or hitch a ride back to the upper parking lot). Here’s how:
1. On your way to the river, either drop Car #1 off at the float STOPPING point (and have driver #1 jump in Car #2) and drive Car #2 to the START point. OR have everyone meet at the STARTING point and then while everyone is getting ready, Driver #1 and #2 take both cars to the STOPPING point as detailed above.
2. When you arrive at the end of the float, either fit everyone into Car #1 and go get Car #2 at the STARTING point OR send both drivers to rescue Car #1. And everyone else gets to start a picnic. (Hope you put the food in Car #1).
Remember, the drivers need to keep their keys with them on the float!
Most outdoor stores (Next Adventure etc.) in Portland have inner tubes for river floats (and stores like Fred Meyer do too). As summer heats up, it can be difficult to find tubes in stock and/or at a reasonable price, so plan ahead (I was quoted $60 for the cheapest tube at one big box sporting goods store in town one year). As much as I like to shop local, I decided to buy inner tubes on Amazon (and with Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping, you don’t have to plan ahead that far), which makes the adventure much more affordable!
You have several options for floating the Clackamas River, as there are three typical start points and three end points. The most popular launch is from Milo McIver State Park‘s Upper Ramp near Estacada, Oregon (see map for details).
View Portland Tubing: River Float Map in a larger map
Leave your favorites in the comments. Float on!
This is a quick race recap post about my running adventures. Check out my Running page for more info on races and how I started running.
If you haven’t been to Central Oregon, add it to your list! 300 days of sunshine, epic views of the Cascade mountains range, and a booming beer scene. Plus, one of the funniest things about Bend, is as a pretty outdoorsy person, being there makes me feel like a total amateur. While the Pacific Northwest has a good deal of people who like to get out on the weekend and hike etc., Central Oregon is full of athletes and people who are outdoorsy like it’s their job. Coming from Portland, it’s fun to see the difference.
I started the ball rolling on Memorial Day weekend plans in Bend way back in January. Then I saw that the Happy Girls 10k was the same weekend and decided to sign up.
Last year it was a bit chilly over Memorial Day weekend in Bend, but this year was pretty ideal running weather. Since the place we were staying was literally right on the course, we had our own little cheering section at the park. I definitely need to work on the slow down and smile nicely for a photo from loved ones bit though.
My Happy Girls 10k Time – 0:59 (9:37 pace)
I started out waaay to fast [for me!] on this one. I also overlooked that there was a bit of a hill in mile 5, oops! My Nike+ ended at 6.1 something instead of 6.2, so not sure what was up with the course or my phone.
Happy Girls Race Swag/Perks:
What: Happy Girls 10k
When: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Where: Deschutes River Trail – Bend, Oregon
Price: $37.58 (with promo code)
Overall, I loved the Happy Girls race. The course around the Deschutes River and parks is as-always gorgeous. It’s also fun to see Mt Bachelor and Broken Top in the background of race photos.
The staff of the event were also really kind. The only downside was that it lacked the “race energy” that you experience at bigger events with more people. And for my friend who ran through an injury, the lack of a distraction from smiling, cheering faces was probably a bit more noticeable. While the 10k was a tiny group, it seemed like both the half and the 5k were a bit more packed.
I can see myself running this one again.
My next installment of Portland Neighborhood Maps hits close to [my first] home – South Waterfront. I moved to South Waterfront in the summer of 2010. South Waterfront was one of those areas that was created out of “nothing” in the mid-2000s. Most of the high-rises were just being finished as the economy tanked in 2008 and all development and business expansion came grinding to a halt. By 2010, a couple of the condo buildings in South Waterfront were still pretty vacant and there were several real estate auctions. No pressure. I bought one, sight unseen.
My first couple of years in South Waterfront, the neighborhood was quiet. I would mostly just take the streetcar into downtown or walk through no man’s land to Waterfront Park and across the river. Then things started changing. The Elizabeth Caruthers park was finished. I joined the community garden by the river. The farmers market opened. A pedestrian bridge over I5 opened. Little Big Burger arrived. There went the neighborhood.
SoWa still has a long way to go to get that unique lived-in feeling, but as my “first” grownup neighborhood, I’m rooting for them. South Waterfront is officially part of the South Portland neighborhood. When I was designing my map, I debated about how close to zoom in. I ended up deciding to show the tangle of highways and onramps as it’s a big part of what boxes in this little neighborhood. Highways to the west and river to the east.
Here’s my mapped guide to favorite places in South Waterfront!
Eat, Drink, Shop, Explore:
Bambuza – A practically ancient restaurant, in Portland years, Bambuza has been in South Waterfront since 2008. They serve up consistently delicious Vietnamese food. Order the banh mi sandwich and fresh rolls.
3682 SW Bond Ave [Hours: Monday - Saturday 11am - 9pm]
Rip City Grill & Moody Food Carts – There’s a reason this place is slammed at lunch time. Everyone raves about the tri-tip steak sandwich, thankfully Clint also makes an awesome portobello burger with caramelized onions and blue cheese.
Docks at Moody Ave & Abernathy St [Hours: Monday - Friday 10am - 2pm]
Little Big Burger – The long-awaited South Waterfront location of this Portland burger empire finally opened in 2013. As long as you don’t hit it during the OHSU lunch rush between 11-1 it’s a great bet.
3704 SW Bond Ave [Hours: 11am - 9pm daily]
Lovejoy Bakers – A Pearl district favorite since 2010, seeing a bakery finally land in this area (in May of 2014) is perfect. Since South Waterfront still lacks a grocery store, I can see them staying pretty busy from SoWa locals and the constant stream of OHSU employees.
3159 SW Moody Ave [Hours: 6am - 6pm daily]
Daily Cafe at the Tram - Nothing fancy here. It’s a solid lunch option and quick place to grab a coffee or a chai before you jump on the Streetcar.
3355 SW Bond Ave [Hours: Monday - Friday 7am - 5pm]
The Old Spaghetti Factory – Before Portland was the foodie paradise it is today, Old Spaghetti Factory was fine dining. While not its original location (which opened in 1969 at SW 2nd Ave & SW Pine St in downtown) , OSF has been holding down the fort in “South Waterfront” since before it was called South Waterfront (1984?)! It’s still worth a visit for the nostalgia, river view location and when you have kids in tow. Order the mizithra cheese!
715 SW Bancroft St
Greanleaf Juicing Co - One of South Waterfront’s newest additions, Greanleaf is in the Emery building by the tram. As you would expect by the name, they offer up veggie and fruit-packed juices and smoothies, and some lighter items like soup and granola bowls.
3151 SW Moody Ave [Hours: Monday - Thursday 7am - 7pm, Friday 7am - 6pm, Saturday - Sunday 9am - 6pm]
South Waterfront Farmers Market - The farmers market opened in 2012 and was a welcome addition to this supermarket-less neighborhood. Every year it gets a little bit bigger!
Elizabeth Caruthers Park [Hours: Thursdays 2 - 7pm - June to October]
Frank Wine and Flower - Another 2014 addition to SoWa, this inconspicuous little shop is a wine bar meets gift shop and is pretty adorable.
3712 SW Bond Ave [Hours: Sunday - Monday 12 - 8pm, Tuesday - Thursday 11am - 9pm, Friday - Saturday 11am - 10pm]
Urbana Market – an almost-yuppy convenience store. It’s tiny, but saves the day when you need something basic for a recipe, or a snack, or a $5 bottle of wine.
3550 SW River Pkwy
South Waterfront Greenway & Osprey Nest - A few years ago this was a great grassy stretch to walk and sit by the river, with a few DIY trails down to the water. It’s currently under construction to add in retaining walls, restoring the river bank, adding water access etc. Probably a smart idea to support the growing neighborhood. Expected completion winter 2014. It’s bordered on the north by the Dahlia field a great place to get giant gorgeous flowers, which I’m guessing won’t be here too many more years with all the new development. And was bordered to the south by the Community Garden (which is now planning to be developed as “Block 37″ a 6-story apartment building), which has now been moved closer to Macadam.
Elizabeth Caruthers Park - The park is named after a pioneer woman, who was a fascinating note in history (1850 Donation Act, a woman – married or not – had the same property rights as a man). Finished in 2010, the park is home to a bocce court, hilly grass, a short boardwalk and some neat fountains. Summer movies in the park, a few concerts, a cider festival, and the weekly farmers market keep the park busy – in the summer months at least.
3508 SW Moody Ave [Hours: 5am - midnight daily]
Waterfront Trail - Perfect for running and biking, the trail starts by the old trolley station at Moody and Bancroft St. It follows the river all the way through Willamette Park and the Sellwood bridge, where you can cross and connect with the Springwater Trail to either loop north up to the Eastbank Esplanade or towards East Portland.
Go By Bike - I think the only transportation option we’re missing now in SoWa is boating (the shipyard doesn’t count until they offer us boat rides). There’s now a massive bike valet at the base of the tram, also repairs and bike rental.
SW Moody & SW Gibbs [Hours: Monday - Friday 6am - 6:45pm]
-Cha! Cha! Cha! – another Portland chain that is promising to open sometime in June.
-Tilikum Crossing Bridge- Despite the boring name, we will all be happy when it opens in the fall of 2015. The pedestrian and transit bridge will bring much needed access to the east side of the river.
-Rumors of a pub opening in the fall in the old Soho sushi place.
PS. If you missed my first mapped guide, it was Hosford Abernethy (& Ladd’s Addition).
Exiting the metro on our first night in Valencia, we navigated through the tiny streets of the Mercat and El Carmen neighborhood. We seemed to be the only ones on the street. It felt a little post-apocalyptic, walking past abandoned lots, half crumbling buildings that didn’t even look to be under construction, and shuttered business with roll-down doors. This will all look different tomorrow I thought. And then we rounded a corner and saw our first (of many) Valencia street art.
There are several high-profile artists from Valencia (here’s a bigger list). Escif and Hyuro were two that I was able to start recognizing from their style. From our first night in Valencia, it became a fun surprise to round a corner in the old town and come across an amazing piece of art or graffiti or whatever you want to call it. I am by no means an expert on street art, but here are some of my favorites while in the city.
Horse and snails on Carrer de Sant Dionis
Cat on Carrer de Salvador Giner
Aerobik Karaoke – bunnies and banana on Carrer de la Corona
Hyuro – wolves and cars on the south side of the Central Market
More Hyuro street art – Gentrification – on Carrer de les Carabasses
Distraerse (distracted) – more Hyuro near El Mercat
Escif in Plaza del Tossal in El Carmen, Valencia
The neighboring wall – Moses with Euro and Dollar tablets and the most terrifying facial hair.
Colorful street art didn’t seem as common as the contrast-heavy thoughtful pieces, which made some of these colorful lighter pieces stand out.
More colorful pieces in El Carmen
The size of this one on the side of a building on Carrer de Sant Miguel
Nothing fancy here, just a fun look at how the rolldown shop doors are used for advertising and graffiti when not rolled up for daytime business.
Kind of a strangely interesting one on Carrer de Guillem de Castro
Fairy tale graffiti in el Carmen
One of three fast food pieces – hip! hop! don’t stop!
“From here to fame” pizza
The Fast Food series by Escif
near Plaza de la Merce
Thanks to Instagram, I was able to learn who some of these pieces were created by. I tagged them #valencia and #streetart and then got a few comments from strangers identifying the pieces as as Escif etc.