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!

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