Columbia Slough - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 5, 2021

Columbia Slough

It’s time 

We started stirring awake this morning about five thirty.  We’ve both gotten plenty of sleep and Rachael’s getting stiff and achy feom lying in bed too long, but there’s no compelling reason to get up yet either - sunrise isn’t until 7:30 now, the coffee shop won’t open for another hour and a half, it’s cold in the apartment - so we roll over and give it another half hour.

When we do wake up we lie in bed a while longer anyway, looking at the weather reports on our iPads and discussing what ride to take today.  It’s just 39 now and will top out at only 44 - rideable of course, given that a partly cloudless day with light winds is forecast - but we’re spoiled and would really like to feel more warmth in our days.  We pull up forecasts for places in the southwest - Tucson where we’ll hole up for six weeks and San Luis Obispo and San Diego, where we’ll lay over for three days each to break up the drive down there - and see that they’re all twenty to thirty degrees warmer than here with plenty of sun; and there’s a full hour more in the daylight window down there.

Can’t we leave today?
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Today’s ride

It’s time, and we’re both ready.  We’ve completed the storage shuffle, our bags are packed, we leave in the morning.  But first, one last ride.  We’ve been dealt one more cold but beautiful day, and we have to make use of it.    It’s Sunday, and some discussion occurs about whether to go out to Sauvie Island for the third Sunday running.  We both decide against it though - it’s too slow warming up this morning for either of us to be interested in starting out before noon, which with sundown at 4:30 now makes for too narrow a window if you don’t want to bike home on US 30 in the dusk.  

Rachael decides to head south to Oregon City again, as the quickest ride to get her miles in.  And she gets them too - leaving around 12:30, she still manages to rack up 42 of them.  She rode the Bike Friday because her Surley has been put back in its closet, and returned with a positive report about her new saddle and seatpost.  She kept a fast pace that didn’t allow time for photographs, not even stopping for the Christmas Train she told me she’d seen today.

No worries, I’ve got her covered.  I saw it a few days ago myself bu neglected to include the photo then so here it is now.

The Christmas Train, on its short run between the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and Oaks Amusement Park.
Heart 2 Comment 1
Andrea BrownIt's been a couple of years since the Christmas Train has run and newcomers to Portland were asking on Nextdoor what that weird sound was. A real choo-choo steam whistle that makes us all smile when we hear it.
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1 month ago

It obviously wouldn’t work for us to bike together today.  She’s moving too fast for me to stay with her if I stop for photographs, which of course I will; and it’s much too cold for her to stand around waiting for me.  Instead I head north toward Kelly Point, on a mission - I’m on the hunt for a weathered fence.

For a change I start out by biking out Michigan Avenue, the attractive street that parallels Mississippi.   It’s quiet, marked as a bike route, and colorful enough that there’s always something that captures my interest. Today is no exception.

On Michigan Avenue. So what do you call these chains that thread rainwater from gutters?
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Andrea BrownRain chains.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownOh, c’mon. That’s too easy. You’re pulling my chain.
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1 month ago
I know it’s out of sequence, but as long as I’ve found this Eastward Facing Garage I might as well bag it for the Alphabet Quest.
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Sundry windows, on Michigan Avenue.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesWindow collage. Nice.
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1 month ago
New wall art since the last time I came this way. its the Oregon State Bird, but this would look right in place down in Tucson.
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marilyn swettA meadowlark?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo marilyn swettYup. The Western variety.
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1 month ago

So I said I was on the hunt for a well-weathered fence, but that’s only half the story today.  I’m also out to bike along Columbia Slough to check out the winter bird scene.  There’s always something there worth stopping for there too, especially at this time of year.  It’s one of those essential stops on my list that I nearly failed to squeeze in.

The Columbia Slough, and another interesting sky today. For a month when we expected to see rain most days we’ve gotten some surprisingly fine days.
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I was disappointed at first seeing these oily yellow streaks on the slough, thinking they were pollution.
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But nope, it’s just cottonwood leaves concentrated into long lines by the currents.
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Great egret, Columbia Slough.
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A fine lot of geese, plus one.
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And an odd lot. What’s that cormorant doing in there?
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Steve Miller/GrampiesCould his name be Waldo?
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1 month ago
A scummy lot.
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Hole 7 on the Greenback Course has water, goose, and rail hazards. Seems like it should rate more than a par 3.
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On the Blue Heron golf course.
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Opposite Kelly Point park is this dead end spur along the Columbia Slough. It’s a bit tricky to bike in the winter, with its rough surface broken up by cottonwood roots hidden under a layer of slippery decaying leaves.
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I rounded a corner and startled about fifteen mergansers into flight, too quick for me to get decent shot of them.
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But four soon sailed back.
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So finally Kelly Point - my primary destination today because I vaguely remember that there are some weathered wooden fences out here.  There’s more out here than that of course - it’s the point at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia, and there are often interesting river scenes here.

I’m really only today here looking for fences though, because by now I’m starting to get seriously cold and have been berating myself for not wearing warm gloves.  As soon as I find a good enough fencepost to meet my criteria I turn back and speed for home and a warm shower.

In Kelly Point Park. I’m here today because if memory serves correctly there are some old fences to be found out here.
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For the Alphabet Quest: a Deeply Etched Fencepost.
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But then, riding down Willamette Boulevard I remember that I still haven’t taken a shot of the railroad bridge on this stay.  I’m not sure but I think it’s the only bridge in Portland crossing the Willamette that I haven’t included in a frame yet.  Anyway, I’m steadily warming up and moving out of the blue zone - it helps that I’m biking faster, and I’ve got the wind with me now - so I can afford to stop.  I pull off to the one spot I know of out here where there’s a clear sight line to this bridge, take my shot, and then turn around and snap the two magnificent oaks that I knew were here because I found them on the Oregon heritage Tree Quest.

And that  really is it now, and I’ll bike home nonstop unless something else unmissable comes along.  As it does.

Looking south past the Union Pacific railroad bridge to downtown Portland.
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Two more of my favorite trees in town: a pair of Oregon white oaks, both on the Heritage Tree list.
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Another view of the railroad bridge.
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The view south from Waud Bluff.
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A nice vision to end our stay in Portland on.
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Today's ride: 28 miles (45 km)
Total: 362 miles (583 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 6
Comment on this entry Comment 13
Andrea BrownDrive safely and have a wonderful stay in Tucson!
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1 month ago
Susan CarpenterSafe travels south - hope to see you both in Tucson!
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1 month ago
Kathleen JonesJeez - everyone’s going to Tucson.
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1 month ago
Carolyn van HoeveI checked on cycleblaze to see if you had started another journal and yay you have! Glad you're back in our lives again. I've just caught up with your entries. Was it a thudbuster (such a great name) you got from crane creek Rachael? I have one on my bike and find it makes such a difference. I ended up exchanging my elastomer for the extra-soft as I'm quite light and it still has some rigidity to it.
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1 month ago
Rachael AndersonTo Carolyn van HoeveI actually have the eeSilkplus seat post with the soft elastomer and it’s working great. I also got a new bike saddle I really like called Ergon SMC Sport Gel Saddle - Women's which helps also.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Kathleen JonesI know, I know. We have no imagination any more. We’re just lemmings.
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1 month ago
Carolyn van HoeveGood to know thanks Rachael! It's really difficult getting the right saddle. I've gone through many. I often wonder with the amount of mileage you do whether you get any pain!
Do you get coccyx pain? It's something I've been dealing with.
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1 month ago
Kathleen JonesTo Scott AndersonBut waaaah! I want to join the paaaarrrrrrty!

Have fun, y’all and I’m looking forward to the vicarious pleasures.
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1 month ago
marilyn swettLoved your pictures today, Scott! Safe travels and I'll be looking forward to reading your journal of your trip back to AZ. We just returned home to Denver last night where we'll be over the holidays. Plan to head south again ourselves in mid-January!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonThanks, Marilyn. We’re looking forward to Tucson of course, but we were really lucky to have seen as much sun as we did in Portland this month.
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1 month ago
Rachael AndersonTo Carolyn van HoeveNo my issues are with chafing and buttock and hip pain.
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1 month ago
Carolyn van HoeveGeez that’s a trio of issues!! Hope your suspension post and new saddle help ease some of it
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonAnd, she’s stuck with a pain for a roommate!
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1 month ago