Archives for posts with tag: Portland

Most everyone I know here is not from here.  This city is filled with people from other places.  People that moved here not for work or for school, but for the simple reason that here, more than anywhere else, was where they wanted to be.  I like being around the type of person who has placed a high priority on living somewhere that complements their lifestyle.  The occupational, academic and romantic details are secondary.  That all can be worked out later.

This past weekend there was yet another article in the New York Times singing the praises of Portland.  This particular article was about our small batch coffee roasters, but there have been numerous others in the last few years talking about our cycling culture, our food carts, our microbrew pubs, our sustainable restaurant scene, our Portlandia TV show and our Pinot Noir prowess.  Listen New York, when are you going to realize that you will never be as cool as us.  Will you please just accept it and move on before we have to get a restraining order.

Though I don’t need the New York Times to tell me that Portland is a great place to live, I must admit that I have had a few weak moments this winter when I questioned why I don’t live somewhere with a more agreeable climate, better employment opportunities and a lower cost of living.  But no sooner do these thoughts creep into my head, than the city of Portland and the State of Oregon stand up and prove their worthiness.  Here are some of things that happened in the last few weeks that made me proud to call this my home.

While the rest of the country was watching the Super Bowl and munching on bean dip, my buddy Greg and I drove up to Mt. Hood to go snowshoeing.  The parking lot at Timberline Lodge was packed.  Obviously us Oregon folk would rather be participants than spectators when it comes to sports.  Greg  and I climbed up to 8,500 feet enjoying the clear crisp winter day.  After taking in the view that stretched across half the state, we swapped the snowshoes with snowboards and cruised our way back  to civilization.

Last Monday, Yoshimi and I hiked out to a beach where the Columbia and Willamette Rivers meet.  We brought some binoculars to do some bird watching and were able to spot different varieties of duck, geese, loon, and heron.  While we were snacking on some  rice crispy treats, an oil tanker the size of a football field floated by.  With our binoculars we could just barely make out the captain returning our waves.

Early one morning before work I ran from my apartment to Mt Tabor, an dormant volcano a few miles away.  The whole city was socked in with a damp thick fog.  As I made my way up Tabor the fog got progressively thinner and then just as I reached the top the sun finally broke through.  I was alone on a tiny urban island in an endless sea of white.

In January at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, two of the three women to make the Olympic team were from Oregon.  Congratulation to Shalane Flanagan & Kara Goucher and best of luck this summer in London.  In the men’s race, another Oregonian, Dathan Ritzenhein, finished fourth, missing out on the Olympics by a mere 8 seconds.  It’s alright Dathan, I think you’ll still make the team at the 10,000m qualifiers in June.

In other running news, the two biggest ultra distance races so far this year were also won by Oregonians:  Tim Olson at the Bandera 100k and Hal Koerner at the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler.  In addition my friend Jon completed his second 100 mile race at Rocky Raccoon.  He set a new personal best in 22 hours 38 minutes and earned a Texas-sized belt buckle for his performance(100 mile races have a tradition of awarding belt buckles to anyone who can finish in under 24 hours). Good job man.

Jon's sub 24 hour buckle

And finally, here’s a link to an incredible time-lapse video compilation filmed over a six month period across the state of Oregon.  If you’ve never climbed Mt. Hood, camped at Crater Lake or biked across the Alvord Desert, this is what you’re missing.

http://www.uncagethesoul.com/gallery/finding-oregon/

By the way, my last blog post was accidentally sent out to the email subscribers before I had a chance to finish it.  Click here to see the full report on the race my brother and I ran in Florida.

A few months ago Outside Magazine ran an article on America’s Best Trails.  I was thrilled (but not totally surprised) to see the Wildwood Trail chosen as the best trail within city limits.  The Wildwood is a 30 mile trail that zigs and zags its way along the spine of the Tualatin Mountains in Portland’s Forest Park, one of North America’s largest urban parks.

I first become aware of Forest Park soon after moving to Portland in 2000 and was shocked to discover that it is much more forest than park.  In fact, it’s much too dense for a game of Frisbee, a summertime picnic or other typical park activities.  Forest Park is a full on wilderness experience and all within the city limits.

There are more than 70 miles of trails within the park, but the real showpiece is the Wildwood.  It has numerous trailheads, the closest of which is about 5 miles from my home and just two miles from my workplace.  I can access the trail on foot, by bike, bus, or light rail.  For a trail-running urban dweller without a car, it’s a dream come true.  In the last twelve years, I’ve logged hundreds of miles on its hard packed switchbacks sometimes before work, sometimes after, and occasionally even sneaking in a “quicky” on my lunch break.

The Wildwood does get a little crowded on weekends and in certain sections, but the further you get from the popular trailheads the less people (and more animals) you’ll see.  Once while in the depths of the park I came across a couple of elk.  If you’ve never seen an elk before, let me tell you, there’s no mistaking these guys for deer.  They’re HUGE.  Supposedly there are also bear and mountain lions hiding out in there somewhere.  However, if I had to nominate one animal to be the Wildwood’s official mascot, it would have to be the giant slug.  These slimy critters use the trail almost as much as runners do and can grow to about half the length of my size 12.5 Sauconys.

If you live in Portland, I highly recommend checking out this gem of a trail or taking part in one of the races that utilize it.  Next month the Oregon Road Runners Club is putting on its annual Wildwood 10K.  There is also a 50K ultra marathon in May and for the first time this year, a trail marathon in October.  Proceeds from the marathon will benefit the Forest Park Conservancy, the non-profit caretakers of this urban forest reserve.  Because of its size and density, Forest Park can be a bit intimidating at first.  Before diving in, you should pick up one of Green Trail’s waterproof Forest Park maps or a copy of the book, One City’s Wilderness, and then you’ll be all set to get wild on the Wildwood.

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