Sunday, February 22, 2015

Portland City Walks #3: Fernhill Park to Alberta Street

For my second week of walking, I was joined by a buddy, the fearless other Meghan from up north!
We wanted a walk with some quirky activites included, so we chose #3, which ends at a McMenamins complete with pub and soaking pool!
NOTE: we brought swim suits per the guidebook recommendations but completely forgot to bring towels.  So no soak for the Meghans.
 We parked by the final stop of the walk instead of the first.  This actually took us a bit out of the way but brought us through a lovely park (one of several on this walk), so we didn't mind.
Some of the lovely houses we passed:
One street seemed to require artsy sculptures in each front yard:

Apparently all my favorites are deep chalk blue with a porch: 

We eventually came from neighborhoods into restaurants and shops, and I realized we were right in front of one of my favorite Portland bars, La Taq!

I love the way Laura Foster lays out these walks - almost every one I've taken so far includes food options (and bathrooms) near the mid-point of the trek.  We were lucky to find a teashop Meghan had been eyeing where we could get warm, grab fancy drinks off a menu a mile long, and use the facilities.
 The line was long but the service was great and the tea options were practically endless.  Check out Townshends any time you are in Portland!

Other highlights - we finally learned what a brace board is and were exceedingly proud of ourselves - and now I see them everywhere.


Our walk took us back through some remaining homes and finally to our end destination, McMenamins Kennedy School.  After toodling around the various halls and scoping out the pool and the bars, we decided to have dinner at the pub.  This was delicious and mostly made up for our chagrin at missing our expected soak.

Safety on this walk was excellent.  I could have done it without a buddy (although it would not have been as fun).

Navigation was easier than my first walk as no areas had been updated enough to alter landmarks.

The Fernhill Park to Alberta Street Loop is a really excellent snapshot of Portland: beautiful trees, a wide range of home styles, and great restaurant options in only about 4.5 miles.

Next up?  Rain, chocolate, and a cemetery.
Feel the need to take some walks of your own?  If you can't make it to Powell's to purchase in person, buy Laura's book on Amazon!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Portland City Walks #11: South Portland to South Waterfront Park

While on one of my frequent visits to the Sellwood library, I stumbled across this gem in the new/recommended section:
Portland City Walks, by Laura O. Foster

I checked it out, and upon perusal at home, discovered that one of the walks began only a mile away from our apartment.  Since Jared spends most of his weekends studying, this seemed like a great way for me to get outside and learn more about my favorite city while enjoying my currently plentiful alone time.
I filled my water bottle, grabbed a few snacks, slathered on some sunscreen, and headed out.  (Comfortable walking shoes and quick-drying workout clothes are highly recommended, particularly if you are talking one of the walks on a warm or wet day.) 
The walk begins right near SW Corbett Ave, and the guidebook provides not only the map, but historical detail about the area as you pass through it.  Certain homes or landmarks are mentioned specifically, either for architectural or historical significance - or both. 
The walk covered some beautiful homes in the Corbett neighborhood, then took me along the Nike track at x park (which was made from Nike-donated shoes), into the south part of downtown for some city "parks" (to me, sculptures and fountains do not a park make), to the waterfront river trail, and back around to Corbett.

I learned a lot about German and Italian immigrants to the area, and started recognizing terms like "Italianate" and "Queen Anne."  The book includes a great glossary of architectural terms.

None of the areas seemed sketchy.  I completed this walk on a Sunday afternoon in the sunshine, with a fairly high level of surrounding pedestrian and vehicle traffic.   I ended up crossing Barbur Blvd towards the beginning of the walk (safely, on a pedestrian bridge overpass) and again towards the end of the walk (a heart-stopping, cross-walk-absent race to the other side when traffic cleared).
The walk itself covered 3.25 miles.  For me, it took several hours.  In part this was due to the extra mile tacked on at the beginning and end of the walk since I thought it was silly to drive to the starting point.  I also didn't realize how much taking pictures and enjoying the sights would slow my regular walking clip.  Definitely plan for at least 1.5 times as long as the distance would take you for a brisk, non-sight-seeing walk.
I got a bit turned around twice on this walk.  Once was due to talking on the phone with my brother and not paying attention.  The second time was due to the ongoing changes of buildings and streets down near the South Waterfront area.  Some of the landmarks were different or simply gone.  I found my way again quickly, and otherwise considered the map and cues to be very helpful and easy to follow.  (I get lost a lot, so if I can do this, anyone can.)
I brought my own water and snacks along, but there is an excellent coffee shop called Bean & Tree along the waterfront trail which I highly recommend.  Public restrooms are available just a bit further down the trail and are generally kept tidy.
All in all, I had such a wonderful time that I decided to buy the book and return the library's copy.  I've now gone on 4 walks in 4 weeks (details to come on walks 3, 6, and 10), and so far each has been informative and delightful. 
As an enamored Portlandian who is always looking for a project that can be best laid out in spreadsheet form, I decided I should try to do 20 walks in 20 weeks.  It turns out this will carry me almost completely through Jared's board study period, with about 1 week of wiggle room.
Excited to see where my little feet will take me next!