Leif Erickson Drive - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

March 17, 2019 to March 18, 2019

Leif Erickson Drive

Sauvie Island, one last time

So we’re leaving in a week, and I need to start getting into a different frame of mind about this journal.  I’ve been pretty self indulgent about my time on it while we’ve been home, but I’ll need to pare it back a bit when we hit the road so that I leave something for actually experiencing the experience instead of just documenting it.

With that in mind, I’ll start here.  We’ve been to Sauvie Island many times, so there’s not that much new to say about it.  Might as well keep the photos though as reminders of another incredibly beautiful day.

I do need to include this though, as documentation that I stopped on the ride and bought something while I was waiting for Rachael. Otherwise, I couldn’t claim it as my 6th CLC ride. Very important.
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Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesOh,good point. Ham, gruyere and onion quiche. So, so.
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4 weeks ago
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Usually we just bike straight through from town to the island, but Rachael allows me one stop this morning.
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Sauvie Island works well for us and our different agendas. She speeds off to maximize her miles and workout, while I hang behind to loiter and look. We’ll meet up an hour later up-island a ways and race the fifteen miles back to town together.
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I can’t believe the new Sauvie Island Bridge is almost 11 years old now. It doesn’t seem long at all since we were watching it gradually go up next to its failing predecessor.
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Such an inviting start to a ride! Just to the right but out of the frame is Mount Adams; and Hood is straight to the right and directly upriver.
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The Bybee-Howell house, in Howell Territorial Park
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They don’t make ‘em like this any more. The house dates to about 1850, and I wonder whether these hand-hewn rails and posts are as old also.
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This is one of the frustrations of spring: you can hardly get a decent blossom photo without some bug photobombing it.
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Bill ShaneyfeltBugs add much interest!
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanThat's a boxelder bug.
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1 month ago
He just doesn’t get it. The real fishermen are down at Meldrum Bar, watching for action on their poles planted on the shore while they sit in the comfort of the warm cab of their pickup truck.
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Jen GrumbyYeah, this guy doesn't know what he's missing! The seat in a pickup truck would be so much more comfortable. And he could listen to talk radio, too!
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYou’re right! This goofball doesn’t even have his earbuds in.
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3 weeks ago
It must not really be spring yet - no one has settled into their summer home yet.
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On Sauvie Island
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On Sauvie Island
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She’s just realized she has an audience and that her charge has charged off, exiting stage left. She’ll soon follow suit.
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One for all those tractor fans out there
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Leif Erickson Drive

Last night, Rachael asked if I saw the cranes on Sauvie Island yesterday.  No, I didn’t.  I dawdled around long enough that I didn’t get out as far north as where she saw them.  You never know where on the island they’ll show up, but I was thinking they had probably already headed north for the spring.  Perhaps taunting me for not having ridden further, she said there were a lot of them probably just a mile further down the road.  Of course she waited until last night to say anything, rather than at the time when it would have done me some good.

I know where this is going.  She won’t forget, and I’ll hear about this often over the years ahead.  A decade now she’ll recall them as a huge thousand crane flock, just fifty yards from where I stopped short.

I’m pretty tempted to bike out there again this morning, but decide against it.  Once again we only have a partial day available, and there’s no guarantee I’d see them anyway.  Instead I decide to bike out Leif Erickson Drive, another ride that’s been on my check-back list.

First though, breakfast - which I pick up at 26 Cafe, an old favorite I haven’t been to since last year.  I especially like it this morning, when I walk in and immediately recognize the voice of Rachael Price and Lake Street Dive from the morning’s sound track.  I’m careful to log my meal today so the ride will qualify as my seventh and final Cycle Life Challenge ride.  Pretty rushed, but as I said earlier Rachael insisted that I get this out of my system before leaving for Sicily.   

A nicely balanced three course meal to start the day off right. Potassium, peanut butter and caffeine - the perfect biker’s breakfast.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesI agree, good cycling fare, but the bagel is critical. This one looks semi decent, even if not from the East coast.
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4 weeks ago
Jen GrumbyThis photo reminds me .. have you been to Bagel Land @ NE 42nd & Fremont? No tables, but great bagels.
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3 weeks ago
A mixed crowd gathers outside 26 Cafe. There’s room inside, but with this weather it’s better to be outdoors.
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Leif Erickson Drive begins at the northwest end of Thurman Street, over in the Alphabet District.  On the way there I cross the Broadway, which of course we don’t need another look at because we just did that.  Beyond that though, cycling up Thurman toward the base of the west hills I come to Balch Gulch and its simple bridge that looks like something I might have constructed with my erector set.  Not too dramatic, but still worth a stop for a quick look.

Not too dramatic, but it has a pretty good story to tell.  The original bridge was built in 1905, as a part of the Lewis and Clark Exposition.  When I first started riding over it the original bridge was well-aged and decrepit, and beautiful in a way that only old survivors can be.  Five years ago though it was given a new lease on life through a restoration project that was awarded the annual Public Works Project of the Year award for 2015.

The renovation project completely rebuilt the deck, but the girder superstructure is still the original bridge.
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It’s less evocative than the old rotting and crumbling deck it replaced, but it sure feels more secure crossing it.
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Looking down from the Balch Gulch Bridge
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Leif Erickson Drive is one of Portland’s special places.  Billing itself as the Gateway to Forest Park, it runs along the east face of the ridge, slowly gaining elevation for its six-plus mile length until ending in a T-junction at Saltzman Road.  Unpaved for most of its length, its crushed rock/dirt surface makes a nice outing for runners, dog walkers and dirt bikers.  On a road bike it’s a bit of a slow go, but worth the effort for the serenity it provides.  Nothing exciting - just an hour of riding in solitude through the greenery in low, filtered light.  Sometimes it’s quite soggy and muddy, but after the stunning weather we’ve had for the last week solid it’s a dry ride today - an ideal time to experience it.

Nothing dramatic here. Just eight miles about like this. Nice.
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Leif Erickson is very popular with the runners, and can get pretty busy. Very quiet today though.
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Jen GrumbyOne of my favorite Portland rides was the first time we rode Leif Erickson on a Monday after we retired.

Though it's great to be out amongst other happy people not driving cars, it's a very different and wonderful experience when the weekend crowds aren't there.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyWe’re so lucky to have this park. Thank you, John Olmsted! You might be interested in some other local news too: on Monday they break ground for a new pedestrian bridge across West Burnside to connect Washington and Forest Parks along the Wildwood Trail. I don’t know if you ever hiked this, but you have to take your life in your hands crossing Burnside.
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3 weeks ago
Jen GrumbyRon saw something yesterday about the Wildwood @ W. Burnside pedestrian bridge .. great news!

We love the Lower Macleay to Pittock hike.
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3 weeks ago
Look at that sky! This probably wasn’t the best use of the day, actually. I could have gone somewhere with better views - Sauvie Island, say.
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Jen GrumbyHmmm .. if thousands of cranes are calling at Sauvie Island and you can't hear them because you're on Leif Erickson .. do they still make a sound?
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyGood point. Likely Rachael was just mistaken and they were really mute swans.
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3 weeks ago

When I reach Saltzman (also unpaved), I have a choice to make - I could just backtrack, or continue climbing on Saltzman for another mile and a half up to Skyline Drive.  At maybe a four or five percent grade, it’s not a bad climb at all.  An easy choice, with the promise of pavement ahead.

If you don’t need the pavement, rustic Saltzman Road is probably the most attractive way to climb through Forest Park.
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On Skyline Drive, one of Portland’s premier cycling experiences.
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Dropping through the neighborhoods from Skyline Drive
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