The Portland Heritage Tree Quest: Group 5 - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

February 17, 2020

The Portland Heritage Tree Quest: Group 5

Twenty Questions, continued

Question #2: Is the tour bigger than a breadbox?  Yes, unless you know of a 500 mile by 200 mile by 2 mile breadbox somewhere that it could fit into.

Question #3: Does it include retrieving a bicycle helmet rashly and immaturely thrown into the desert?  No, and stop trying to make me feel guilty.  We’re not going back to Benson again this year!

The Portland Heritage Tree Quest

Happy Presidents Day!  A day to remember with respect and gratitude the great leaders of our past.  I’m going to observe the day by honoring a different set of revered ancients though: Portland’s heritage trees.  If you were keeping us company last summer you may recall that I initiated a challenge to myself while we were impatiently waiting in Portland for Iberia to roll around on the calendar: The Portland Heritage Tree Quest.  The goal is to make my way to an instance of each of the city’s distinct 120 distinct species or cultivars designated as a heritage tree through a series of day rides.  Along the way I’ll get a modest bit of exercise, discover some new corners of the city, and hopefully learn something new about the tree world.

It’s a slow, painstaking process, and more challenging than I anticipated.  Hard to come up with a sensible itinerary, and a challenge to locate some of the trees even with the address in hand.  After four excursions I’ve only checked off 35 trees, plus one more that dropped from the inventory because the tree no longer exists- barely 30% of the list.  We’ll be at this awhile, folks.

Before starting up again though, let’s pause to pay respect to yet a third set of revered elders: my parents.  The clan gathered in Seattle this past weekend to celebrate my father’s birthday.  You’ll recall that I’m 73, and my sister Elizabeth is three years older than I am; so if you’re any good at math and human biology you can appreciate how lucky we are to still have them both with us.  

It was a grand celebration, and the most complete family gathering we’ve seen in years - every member of the family was there except our son Shawn and his two daughters.  The most touching moment of the evening came at the end, when dad rose to propose a toast to mom, and to the fact that the two of them will celebrate their seventieth wedding anniversary this summer.

The Anderson family, at the most complete gathering we’ve seen in years.
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Dad, my brother Stewart, and his daughter Lauren.
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Jen GrumbyWas it Stewart that went with you on one of your first long bike rides?
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYes, briefly. Excellent recall! This is the same (and my only) brother who was also a miler on the Roosevelt track team back in high school. I held our 2,000 student high school’s record for the mile from 1964-1970, at 4:28.6 - not great, but a respectable time 56 years ago. I lost the title to Stewart in 1971, when he ran a 4:27.8 mile. He quit competitive running after this, and I have always believed that his only goal was to dethrone me.
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5 months ago
Jen GrumbyYou ran faster than a 5-minute mile?!

What kind of shoes did you use?

Stewart may have beat your record by less than a second, but how many hundred of thousands of miles have you ridden since he left that bike tour?
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyAdidas, red and white kangaroo skin. I can still picture them. And yes, I broke 4:30 once, when I came in third in the Seattle high school championships. It qualified me for the state championships in Pullman, where I totally bombed.
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5 months ago
Jen GrumbyI wish you had a video! If you ever come across any photos I'd love to see one. Under 4:30 seems ridiculously fast!

And you got me wondering about kangaroo leather .. here's what I found that I didn't know before ..

"Kangaroo leather is also popular in the manufacture of motorbike leathers and is used in a wide variety of other applications such as car upholstery, military boots, football or soccer boots and fashion accessories.[6][7]"
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyNo, I have no photographs that I remember. Somewhere mom has some newspaper clippings with some of my race results, but I think that’s it.

Interestingly, I just found a new reason to admire Bernie Sanders. He was a champion miler and cross country runner in high school! I’ve been sceptical, but suddenly I’m Feeling the Bern!
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5 months ago
Lauren and her partner Peter, up from Oakland; and her brother Russell and his partner Victoria, up from San Antonio.
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So, let the quest resume!  Winter isn’t the best time for observing the deciduous trees, so the next pair of outings will try to bring in the remaining 20 evergreens we haven’t seen yet.  They break down neatly into two equal groups: 10 on the east side of the river, and 10 on the west.  Today, we’re eastward bound.

First though, we (Rodriguez and I; Rachael would never have patience for  this, and is off collecting her 42 mile ride stamp for the day) bike west a few blocks to honor one of my favorite presidents, Teddy Roosevelt.  He’d be a favorite even if I hadn’t gone to Roosevelt High School in Seattle half a century ago, but that helps.  Go, Roughriders!

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Happy Presidents Day, President Roosevelt! And thank you for establishing the National Forest Service, five national parks, 18 national monuments and the nation’s first wildlife refuges!
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OK.  Let’s go find some trees.  They’re all on the east side, so we begin by crossing the Willamette on the Hawthorne Bridge, possibly my favorite of the city’s extraordinary bridge collection.

Not much need for more narrative.  The ride is the usual for this event: bike a ways, stop and recheck the map; come to the right street, look for an impressive tree; look for the label, realize we’re staring at a different impressive tree worthy of attention too, but not THE tree.  Take some snapshots.  Repeat.  Along the way, allow myself to be diverted from time to time by something that catches my eye.

It’s a slow process - I’m out for three hours, add eight new trees to the list, and cover an unimpressive 21 miles.  There’s still some time left in the day and a few more trees I’ve mapped a route to by the time I’m done; but it’s a chilly day, I’m hungry, I have to find a loo soon, and I forgot to bring the key to my lock so I can’t really stop and leave Rodriguez unprotected.  So, I just head home and save the rest for another day.

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It’s been almost half a year since we’ve seen the Hawthorne Bridge. Doesn’t seem too soon to take its photo again.
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This one’s for you, Lednar, copycatting on your Cycle365 theme for the month. I’m curious about this one: the paint seems so fresh, the ivy seems like it’s been there awhile. Did the artist just paint up to the green line, or does it continue on beneath the growth?
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Finally, a tree. I thought we’d never get to the theme for today’s post. This is Araucaria araucana, the monkey puzzle tree.
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Andrea BrownSadly, an historic monkey-puzzle went down last fall near us. It was one of the expo trees.
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5 months ago
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The national tree of Chile, it looks almost cactus-like, something you might expect to see in a desert.
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Bruce LellmanYou don't want to hang around under a Monkey Puzzle tree because if a branch came down I'm pretty sure it would kill you. The branches are very heavy. It would not be a nice way to go.
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanNope. This and Coulter Pines. Killer trees.
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5 months ago
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I’m trying to stay on task, but my route takes me through Laurelhurst Park so I might as well pause to see who’s at home today.
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Jen GrumbyWhat a cool photo! If I could name it I'd call it Ink Blot Duck Dream.

I had to zoom in to see what it was. Shape distorted by reflection, and both water and bird of unusual colors.
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI was pleased I caught him with his eye open. I thought he was dozing, but about every seven or eight seconds he would briefly blink it open.
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5 months ago
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On Hawthorne, one more for Lednar.
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Gregory GarceauI don't know how Lednar feels, but this wall mural disturbs me. It looks like that huge hummingbird is going to peck into that poor kids brain.
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5 months ago
This doesn’t relate to anything; I just like affectionate orange Toms (as opposed to soulless orange Dons, which I don’t care for so much). It reminds me of our old cat Cesar from thirty years ago, the toughest cat I’ve ever known.
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No, Fortunately this isn’t the remains of a heritage tree. It’s another Cycle365 Challenge posting - a stump for Suzanne. She didn’t specify that it had to still be rooted, so hopefully this will meet her exacting standards.
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Suzanne GibsonA fine stump!
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonPhew!
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5 months ago
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OK. Back on task, with tree #2 for the day. Pinus monticola: #61 in the inventory, 87’ tall.
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The Western white pine (also known as the silver pine and California mountain pine) is an Oregon native and the state tree of Idaho.
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Western white pine fascicles (bundles) contain five needles, 2-5 inches long.
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Western white pine cones are 5-12 inches long.
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Tree 345 in the inventory is Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘BoulevardTM’, the Boulevard cypress. This one is 67 feet tall.
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Bruce LellmanThis is a very small lot but down on the corner on the same property is a second Heritage Tree, a Catalpa. The only reason I know this is because we live one block away.
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5 months ago
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The GBO is so surprising, having many eclectic interests - a real renaissance bottle opener. If he had arms, he’d be a tree hugger.
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Jen GrumbyHe will go down in history as one of the Great Bottle Openers .. fighting for the health of the planet, one armless treen hug at a time.
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5 months ago
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And he’s literate! He almost jumped out of the toolbar with excitement when we paused to snap this LFL for NancyG’s Cycle365 challenge theme.
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And a philosopher, apparently. He went right for the Rousseau at this LFL.
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Jen GrumbyHe's a thinker!
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyTo your credit, I assume. He demonstrates what I assume was an excellent upbringing.
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5 months ago
And one more! Clinton Street is a real LFL hotbed. These three all exist in the space of three blocks.
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One thing I really enjoy about this quest is that it takes me down Portland streets I’ve never visited before. This is Franklin High School, near Mount Tabor. Opened in 1917, it is the city’s fourth oldest high school.
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Andrea BrownIt was also superbly remodeled 2 or 3 years ago. Kudos to PPS for retaining interesting architecture.
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5 months ago
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OK, finally back on task. This is a Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), another Pacific Northwest native. Tree 324 in the inventory.
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Such a colorful trunk. One of my favorite trees.
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Tree #197 in the inventory: the single-needle pinyon (Pinus monophylla).
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A native of Mexico and southwestern US, the single-needle pinyon is the world’s only single needled pine species.
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Here’s a lucky accident. I was drawn into Woodstock Park by the still-rooted stump in the background, for Suzanne again. But this tree in front of it is another heritage tree.
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Tree #195 in the inventory: the pecan (Carya illinoinensis). I hadn’t been targeting this tree for today since it’s not an evergreen, but we’ll take it as long as we’re here.
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Tree #18: a Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata).
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This Monterey Pine, a native of the central California coast, is planted as a plantation tree. It is the most broadly introduced tree species in Australia, New Zealand and Spain.
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Needles of the Monterey pine come in clusters of three, and are 3-6 inches long.
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Just next door is tree #181, a Coulter pine (Pinus coulteri).
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This Coulter pine, planted in the 1920’s, is 111’ tall - larger than the tree is normally found in the wild.
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Needles of the Coulter pine (named for Thomas Coulter, botanist) come in bundles of three and are 6-12 inches long. The most striking feature of the tree though is the cone: sharp and spiky, they are huge - the largest of any pine tree - and can weigh an amazing 2-5 kg. That’s almost like a coconut! Nicknamed the widow maker, so it’s a good thing I had my helmet on. I didn’t know this at the time, so I’ll have to swing by again and look for a fallen cone to take a photo of.
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Keeping Score:

Group 1 (7 species):  grand fir, willow oak, hedge maple, Douglas fir, incense cedar, tulip tree, sugar maple.

Group 2 (9 species): silver maple, Japanese cedar, oriental plane tree, European beech, American chestnut, copper beech, mockernut hickory, basswood, butternut.

Group 3 (9 species): ginkgo, crape maple, northern red oak, deodar cedar, bigleaf linden, giant sequoia, coast redwood, Japanese pagoda tree, Mount Fuji flowering cherry.

Group 4 (8 species): Zelkova, Carolina poplar, Japanese red pine, Katsura, bur oak, river birch, catalpa, wych elm.

Group 5 (8 species): Monkey puzzle tree, western white pine, boulevard cypress, madrone, single needle pinyon, pecan, Coulter pine, Monterey pine.

Dropped (1 species): paradox maple, which I couldn’t find and may no longer exist.


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Comment on this entry Comment 11
Steve Miller/GrampiesI assume that the tour is a relatively stable design, with the 2 mile bit being the height. Else, of course, you would need help from Elon Musk. But a 500 x 200 mile boundary is quite constrained, unless it goes up and down those 2 miles a lot. Hmmm.
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesAssumption is correct. roughly 2 mile vertical difference between the low and high points; 500 miles one direction (as the crow flies; or, more accurately the raven in this case, another subtle clue) and 200 the other.
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5 months ago
Jen GrumbyLove the photos of your family .. your parents look great!
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5 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonRavens are a Native Westcoast thing and if we assume the 200 mile leg includes a ferry or ferries and does not count the ferry distances in the total? Something Pacific Northwest? Haida Gwaii the long way? Dodie
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesSneaky, trying to introduce a new question. We’ll consider answering it at a future time, but the books are closed for now. However, I refer you to the common raven range map (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Raven/maps-range) for some other possibilities. And no, before you ask, we are not going to Baffin Island.
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5 months ago
Gregory GarceauTwo mile vertical difference tells me you'll probably be in some pretty high mountains. (Pretty smart aren't I.) The fact that you'll be leaving in just a couple of months pretty much eliminates the Canadian Rockies. Probably not the Himilayans either. You won't get up from Badwater Basin to Telescope peak on your bikes. Not Alaska.

AHA! You're going to the Andes. Either that, or your going to climb Mt. Kilamanjaro or Mt. Fuji on your bikes.
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauVery clever! Hard to argue with your logic. I wish I could say more about your conclusions at this time, but I can’t. Perhaps you’re right, perhaps not. Note though that I said ‘roughly’ 2 miles. It has to be less than that of course, or it wouldn’t fit inside the specified box.
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5 months ago
Jacquie GaudetI'm going to vote for Baja California as the secret location.

Wherever it ends up being, though, I'll be following with interest!
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetBaja! That’s an exciting idea. Among other things, I could see the single-needle pinyon pine on its home turf. And they have ravens there, so that fits our known facts too. And the climate is about right - much better at this time of year than Haida Gwaii (or Queen Charlotte Island, for those that haven’t kept up with the times). It’s only about 150 miles wide at its widest point, and only 3,000’ feet high, so that fits also.

Hmm - when I check the map though, I see that Baja is nearly a thousand miles long, even in raven miles. We’d have to fold it in half to fit it into our enormous bread basket. Probably don’t want to create an international incident, so maybe not this time.
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5 months ago
Bruce LellmanAs I remember, there was a prize for guessing it right. A free trip for two to.... where was that again?
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanBaffin Island. We want you to bike there and check it out so we don’t have to.
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5 months ago