Rocky Butte - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

February 28, 2019

Rocky Butte

Tuesday’s big rides

Rodriguez hasn’t seen much action so far this week.  Portland’s weather hasn’t been conducive, with temperatures hovering right about freezing all week long.  We’ve had a few bouts with snow and ice but it doesn’t hang around long, at least down here near the river.   The schools started late Tuesday and were closed completely yesterday, but with the paltry dusting we got it makes us look just a bit silly.

So the weather is discouraging but not prohibitive - just enough to tempt me to hang around the coffee shop long enough to fritter away an opportunity to put some miles in.  The bigger constraint right now is the press screening schedule.  With showings at 11 and 2 each weekday, the most promising hours of the day are blocked out if the show is one we care about seeing.

The bottom line: I’ve only managed about 12 miles this week so far in two short outings, both on Tuesday.  On that morning I biked over to the east side for a coffee date with Bruce at Spielmann’s Bagels, braving a thin coating of pre-dawn ice as I biked gingerly across the Hawthorne Bridge.  With traffic on my left shoulder and the river on my right, I was quite cautious to avoid a spill crossing the bridge.  Fortunately there was about a six inch ice-free line I could track to, presumably where the bridge was insulated by an underlying beam. 

At Spielmann’s in Portland’s poor excuse for a winter storm.
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By the time I got back to the apartment the ice had melted off but it was too late to fit in a ride before the first showing.  Rachael and I attended them both, so there wasn’t time for much afterwards either.  While she worked out at the gym, I hopped on the bike again and headed over to the Lucky Lab in our old neighborhood for a beer and a pizza slice before returning home again just at sundown.  

It was only about a five mile loop, but very cold - a chilling north wind gained strength all day, and by late afternoon it was blowing at about 25 mph.  I was dressed for it, with umpteen layers and warm gloves, but it was still plenty cold enough.  On the way home at sundown though I just had to stop along the waterfront to take off the gloves for a minute and take in the amazing crow scene and the sunset.  I missed the best shot though - right after I put the camera away and the gloves back on, a biker rode across the grass and through the hundreds of crows standing around, splitting them into two great rising waves.

Getting back on the bike, I for some reason - distracted by the crows and sunset, or possibly because I’m shaking a bit from the cold - fail to lift my leg high enough to clear the saddle, stumble, and crash ingnominiuosly to the ground.  Embarrassing, but fortunately no damage done.  Roddy is unscathed fortunately, and I suffer only a minor chest wound from falling against the end of the handlebars.  My knees hit the ground and my shin bangs painfully against a pedal,  but there’s nothing serious.  I’m happy to see that I haven’t torn the knees of my jeans, and am surprised to find the next morning that everything feels and works as normal.  Lucky this time, but I should try not to make a practice of it.

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I almost don’t recognize this building on the east side of the Burnside Bridge. It’s white during the day.
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In the evening, Rachael and I walk up to The Old Church for a jazz concert.  The PDX  Jazz Festival is on this month, and we managed to fit a pair of concerts into the schedule.  Tonight’s performance was stunning, by Veronica Swift, an artist I haven’t seen or heard of before.  A young woman who grew up on the jazz circuit (her parents were both jazz musicians), she’s the best new artist I’ve heard in several years, and is absolutely spellbinding.  We felt lucky to get to hear her (and the terrific Benny Green Trio that accompanied her) in a live performance.  At the front end of what I’m sure will be a great career, I’ll be surprised if we ever see her in Portland again.

Thursday

It’s still cold today, but incredible out.  We are skipping the morning film, so we have time to fit in a ride before the two o’clock showing.  Soon after sunrise Rachael’s off to Oregon City, and I get an early start at Cafe Ponte so I can get juiced in time to fit in a ride myself.  

It’s a great time to be out along the river, with the dawn just breaking behind Mount Hood.
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I’m out at just the right time, with the first crow squadron just heading out east across the river.
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Cafe Ponte is situated in just the right spot, with a good mountain view across Waterfront Park.
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It’s really an attractive spot to start the day, with the low morning light illuminating the cafe and casting interesting shadows.
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As usual, I lose track of time a bit at the coffee house and don’t make it back to the room until about 9:30.  I do well to be out the door again with the bike fifteen minutes later.  I start to pedal off but realize I’ve forgotten my warm gloves, so I head back upstairs again.  And then, starting up again, I find that my GPS batteries are dead.  I’m not positive that I know the best route to today’s goal, Rocky Butte, so it’s back upstairs yet once more.  It’s close to ten by the time I finally head north along the waterfront.

Rocky Butte has been on my radar for a few weeks, waiting for just the right day.  An old volcanic plug just behind the airport, it rises about five hundred feet above the Columbia and gives you stunning views up and down the gorge and north into Washington.  This morning’s almost crystal clear sky is perfect.

I don’t know for sure, but I think it will be roughly a 30 mile loop.  I don’t go out there too often because it’s a bit awkward to get to and not on route to anything but itself.  My route today takes Williams and Vancouver north, the most direct route to the Columbia; and then east along the Marine Drive cycle path to the I-205 bike path.  Then, double back west along busy Killingsworth, south across busy Sandy Boulevard, and then finally we reach the base of the butte and climb steadily for about a half mile before reaching the summit.   Perhaps because it’s a bit out of the way, the park at the top is usually very quiet.  Today I’m the only soul here.

I have to be back home before one if I’m to have time to shower and change before for this afternoon’s showing, so I bike steadily most of the way out, and allow myself only a few stops along the river and about ten minutes at the top.  It’s enough though, and the day is perfect for the ride.  Not terribly cold, not too windy.  Along the river, I see a huge raft of about a thousand scaups shimmering in the sun; and to the south, I’m surprised to see what must be the tip of Mount Jefferson poking above the ridge just west of Rocky Butte.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jeff from this perspective before, and possibly I’m wrong; but it’s the right shape, and apparently snowbound.

It just turning 12 when I drop off Rocky Butte to head home, gliding down the north side and through the short tunnel where the road does a u-turn and crosses under itself.  I bike hard and make it home by 12:45, in pleanty of time.  I’m pleased to see that the sky is clouding over when I return.  Perfect timing.

I liked this view across the river, with all the shadows, reflections and slack water.
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Another PDX arrival. Prop planes are really a more interesting subject than jets, I think.
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Looking upriver across the Sea Scout Base
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Looking north across the Glenn Jackson Bridge. We’d have a great view of Mount Rainier from here if Mount Saint Helens had blown off just a few thousand more feet when it erupted.
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Looking east up the gorge. I can’t quite figure out the perspective here and where the ridge is. I’ll have to come up here again and compare it against the map.
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The mountain, or what remains of it at least.
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Last year’s rose hips
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Rocky Butte offers one of the best views east in town.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesI have been smarting for a few days, after a visit with some of our German speaking friends and relations. They casually mentioned the "joke" I put into the email informing people of our impending journey to Austria. I ended it with a jaunty "Auf Wieder Zehn!". Only thing, Zehn means "ten". Seeing is Sehen, and the expression is properly "Auf Wiedersehen."

So why would I write all that here? It's just a misery enjoys company, I guess, as today we learned you were the only "sole" on the Butte.

I enjoyed all of today's story, especially empathizing with cafes and cold, just as we have here. Soon that will be just a shivery memory for us all! You leave a couple of days after us, but we will be trudging through the slush in Montreal as you soar overhead to land in Europe first.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThose are both funny slips of the finger. I meant to say soles of course, since I brought both feet to the summit. Thanks for the careful read!

We’re counting days until departure, alright. We really have nothing to complain about in our winter weather this year - it’s been one of our milder seasons in recent years - but we’re definitely looking forward to some Sicilian sunshine. Also their sole food.
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3 months ago
Gregory GarceauI don't think I will ever get tired of those pictures of the volcanoes. Damn that Mount St. Helens for blocking your view of Rainier!
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3 months ago