The end of the Quest - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

August 10, 2020

The end of the Quest

Counting down the days

We’re dealing in really small numbers now.  One day until my last coffee date with Bruce until we return this winter; three trees left in the Quest; four days until our first Covid test; nine days until we leave for Zagreb! 

It’s a bit strange to be past the emotional ups and downs leading up to our departure decision.  Once we discovered we can get tested for Covid, we locked our decision in place and started mentally relaxing.  Now we’re down to pretty much the usual pre-departure craziness, mentally choreographing when we’ll drop our belongings and bikes off in our storage unit and the Jetta with our friends, checking and rechecking equipment lists, loading maps and routes to our GPS’s, just the usual.

The Covid tests are a new wrinkle of course.  Once we found a place that would test us we booked appointments; and then the very next day Kaiser contacted us to let us know we could get tested there after all.  Since neither test is likely to provide results within 48 hours, we’re hedging our bets.  We’ll get tested at Medical One this Friday, and should have our hopefully negative results before we leave (and if they’re positive, we’ve still got time to cancel the flight); and we’ll get tested again at Kaiser the day before we leave, late enough that it will satisfy Croatia’s entry requirements.  This way we should know we’re negative for departure, and have interim results to show at the border until our second test results arrive.  From the Croatian travel blog we’ve been following, this has been a successful strategy for others in our situation - they were allowed to enter the country and then travel freely once the final results arrive.

So, we’ll find out soon.  Nine days!

The End of the Quest

I woke up to a brief but delightful dream this morning.  Rachael and I are biking, and as usual she’s gotten ahead of me and is missing a great show.  Just above me on a low-hanging utility wire, a line-up of about half a dozen birds is gradually sliding down the wire toward me, in a continuous loop - as each one reaches the front it flies back to the back of the queue, advancing sort of like a pace line of drafting cyclists.

As the birds work their way to the front, they each pivot and face me as if they’re models on the runway at a fashion show, spreading their wings and displaying their colors.  Each is a different species, and all are new to me.  I’m hurriedly reaching for the camera when one leaves the wire and flies directly at me and hovers right in front of my face, too close for me to focus on it.

Rachael doubles back to see what happened to me, and this bird immediately leaves me and hovers over Rachael’s head instead, like she’s a flower.  I’m just trying to get a photo of the two of them together, when I wake up.

So, there’s a sign.  With only three trees left in the quest, apparently I’m supposed to try to find a few birds today also.  I decide to head out to Columbia Slough and the river before knocking off the last three trees.  But first things first - I’m off to Café Ponté for an almond croissant and a cup of Calabrian roast.

How perfect is this? I can photograph the birds without stepping away from my coffee!
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Jen GrumbyAnd without stepping in their poop!
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1 month ago

Today’s ride

I hang around the coffee shop longer than makes sense on a day that’s supposed to approach 90F, but finally I make my move.  I’m off on a reasonably ambitious loop today - out to the Columbia to look for some bird life; east along the river to the Glenn Jackson Bridge; then back home by way of Northeast Portland, where all three remaining trees are standing.

Actually, this is the third respectable ride in three days for me.  I’ve finally gotten myself untracked a bit and am starting to put in some training miles, making the rounds through some of our favorite rides.  Saturday I ran upriver to Oregon City; yesterday Rachael and I rode out to Sauvie Island together, racking up nearly 50 miles; and now this.

Rumble in the bike lane. Mine!
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A few miles into the ride, I’ve crossed the Steel Bridge and am biking north up the east side along Interstate.  I look in the mirror and see a biker approaching me from about a block behind, and even though I’m keeping a respectable pace they’re gaining on me.  Before long, the rider is close enough that I recognize the colorful shirt, the helmet, the riding profile.  It’s Rocky!

We ride together for a ways until we reach Greeley, and the new separated bike lane Rachael has spoken so enthusiastically about.  She’s right - it really is a great development.  I’ve always disliked riding along Greeley, especially riding south alongside cars accelerating for the freeway on-ramp at the end.  I’m always wary when you reach the end and have to find a safe gap in the speeding, stressed stream of traffic.  Now though, there’s a protected two way bike lane that runs the entire length from the south end to the turnoff to Willamette Bluff - a distance of a mile and a half.  Much safer, and much more enjoyable.

I stop to take Rachael’s photo on the new path, and that’s all she needs to make her getaway.  I keep her in my sight for the next five miles, but she’s always one stoplight ahead.  Which is fine - she’s out for a ride, and I’m on a hunt for the birds and the trees.

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I love it when we happen upon each other like this. For such a big city, it happens more often than you’d think.
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North on Greeley, on the new bicycle lane. Rachael’s been raving about this, so I’ve been anxious to see for myself.
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Ron SuchanekWow, that's a great development on Greeley. It's always been fun to ride down, but the traffic was unpleasant.
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1 month ago

Birding results are so-so today.  The dream was better, really.  Still - egrets, herons, osprey, possibly even an eagle is something at least.  Also, I watched a pair of pied-billed grebes fishing on the slough for about fifteen minutes hoping they’d emerge near enough me for a decent shot.  Frustrating birds - they stay under water quite a while and then re-emerge maybe fifty yards from where they submerged.  It’s an exercise in futility trying to anticipate them and figure out where they’ll pop up again.

Here’s a sight I don’t care for - hot play toys on the Columbia Slough, stirring up the channel and scaring the wildlife. I’ve never seen this here before, and wonder if it’s even legal. Hey - is that a bald eagle?
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Ron SuchanekHate those things.
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1 month ago
Now this - this is definitely more like it.
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On the Columbia Slough Trail. I’m surprised there’s still so much water this deep into summer.
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Great egret!
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Jen GrumbyAnd if this bird had a word bubble, it would say, "Great Scott!"
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1 month ago
Great egret! Great blue heron!
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Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltThanks, Bill. I almost missed it. The egret is moving to his left stalking and almost moved out of the frame before I could position myself.
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1 month ago
Not so great, really. Just a duck, on Force Lake.
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On the Marine Drive bike path. Mount Hood’s snow pack is looking dangerously thin for this early in August.
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Osprey on the Columbia. I haven’t seen all that many birds today, so I’d better include the ones I do find.
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Finally, it’s time to quit playing around and get down to business.  Let’s go see those last three trees and call it quits on the great Portland Heritage Tree Quest.  It’s a bit frustrating though, and a bit of a letdown for a last act.  First off, the biking isn’t all that pleasant.  I have to follow the I-205 bike path for a few miles, threading my way past homeless camps and folks squatting in the path beneath overpasses.  Then, it’s west along busy, industrial Killingsworth before I start working my way south through the northeast neighborhoods.  This part of town is just a bit of a mess, hacked up by the freeways and Sandy Boulevard.  My target trees are on both sides of these, and I’m constantly biking across one or the other.  If I counted correctly, in the next five miles I crossed Sandy Boulevard five times, and the freeway four.

So the cycling is a bit tedious.  So are the trees.  It’s really not the way I would have chosen to end up the quest.  The first one, a Cryptomeria, is a beautiful tree that’s well worth the effort to see it - tall, majestic, right by the sidewalk and easily viewed.  I can’t say the same for the next two though.  The European White Birch looks like a splendid tree but it’s buried too deep in the yard and far from the street to get a decent look.  And the Hardy Dove Tree is even worse.  It’s deep in a back yard, hardly visible off at all.  There’s a big tree back there, but I’m not honestly sure that it’s the one I’m seeking.  Very frustrating - there are two dove trees in the catalog - this one, and the one buried in Eastmoreland golf course that I couldn’t see either.

Still, I’m done.  17 outings, 122 trees.  I’ll need to find another diversion the next time we’re in town.

I really hate what’s happened with the I-205 bike path over the last year or two. It used to be such a nice connecting route between the Springwater Corridor and the Columbia, but it’s become so overrun by homeless camps that it really doesn’t feel safe any more.
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Jen GrumbyYikes. Barely enough room to ride or walk by.

I hope this hasn't happened again on Springwater!
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1 month ago
Mike AylingTo Jen GrumbyIf you are concerned about homeless people sleeping on your nice bike paths you could make a donation to this or any other charity helping the homeless in your area.
https://www.catholiccharitiesoregon.org/services/housing-services/

BTW $50 or $100 will go a lot further than $5 or $10!
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1 month ago
Cryptomeria, definitely my favorite tree of the day.
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Jen GrumbyWow .. what a tree!!

I think I like its common name, Japanese Cedar, better.

Cryptomeria sounds like a bacterial infection.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyIt’d odd. In the PHT guide, nearly every tree is listed by both it’s common name. This is one of the few where they’re both the same.
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1 month ago
A native of Japan and China, it is an important timber tree.
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The foliage of a Cryptomeria makes you think of a cedar or juniper.
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Crossing the Banfield Freeway on 42nd. Colorful, but awkward - you can either lug your bike up the stairs or walk it up the hairpin ramp behind these walls.
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Jen GrumbyBeautiful mural!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYup; and your comment reminded me that we’ve been here before, leaving for Croatia again almost exactly two years ago: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/dubrovnik2018/transitions/.
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1 month ago
Andrea BrownTo Jen GrumbyThis mural is part of the memorial art dedicated to the two people murdered and another injured defending two girls from a racist attack, for those who don’t know the story behind its poignancy.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownThanks for pointing that out, Andrea. I wasn’t aware of the background.
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1 month ago
Image not found :(
Is that a Hardy Dove Tree (Davidia involucrata var. vilmoriniana) towering in the back yard? Could be.
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The guide says the leaves are heart shaped and the fruit is ‘roundish, green, hard, and about 1.5” in width on a 3” stalk.” Good enough for me. I’ll count it.
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At the Poet’s Corner, 42nd & Laurelhurst Place.
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Jen GrumbySocial distance haiku!! Love the first one.

And what a nice note!
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1 month ago
Image not found :(
Last tree of the quest! The European White Birch (Betula pendulum). An impressive tree, but it’s a shame it’s so remote.
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Fin.
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To celebrate, we ate outdoors at Gallo Nero, a favorite from our old neighborhood. Rachael is ready to dive into her strozzapreti with prosciutto and rucola, the same dish she nearly always orders here - it’s perhaps her favorite pasta dish anywhere; and I’m tryIng a new dish, a bowl of beans and sausage.
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Jen GrumbyThat was one fantastic dream.

I wish you could download it to a tiny 'earring drive' (not invented yet) that I could put in at the end of the day and share.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyAnd also, too, congrats on completing the quest!!

I think I'd skip any multiple crossings of the Evil and Wretched Sandy Boulevard, but otherwise .. what a great way to see the city and learn about these incredible trees at the same time.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyIt was a pretty amazing vision to wake up to, alright. Another of those that was so vivid it almost had me reaching for the camera when I woke up.
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1 month ago