Wandering about Southeast PDX

It was a brisk and somewhat damp morning in Portland when I set out walking. The sun was trying to burn through the light clouds, but with rain forecasted for the afternoon, I was not optimistic that it would win. Like my last wandering, I headed eastward again, crossing the Hawthorne (green) bridge over the tranquil Willamette River. It was just before 9am when I crossed, and there was a constant stream of bicycles zipping towards me as commuters made their way into downtown. Portland is a bike-friendly city (another sustainability thing) and the mayor, Sam Adams has a reputation for advocating for bike commuting. He recently (and controversially) designated some of the city’s water and sewer funds to improving bike lanes and bike safety.

As I crossed the river, I realized that my toes were cold. That may sound like a strange observation, but since my trip to Beijing this summer, I have hardly worn any shoes other than my open-toed Chaco sandals. When I first got them, I was a little skeptical about their suitability for walking. In addition, wearing sandals seemed a little too Portlandish for me. However, after spending five weeks in Beijing, I admit I really like them. They keep your feet cool and are good for wandering for miles, especially once your feet get used to them. However, as the rainy season approaches, I don’t know if I will put the sandals away in favor of shoes or not. Might be a little too cool to keep wearing them (the weather, not me).

On the other side of the bridge I followed Clay street until it veered right and turned into Ladd Street. Ladd took me through a neighborhood of large older houses and there were massive elm trees on either side of the street, forming a tunnel overhead. At the end of the tunnel was Ladd Circle, a wide traffic circle with a small park in the center. On the opposite side of the circle I spotted Palio Dessert and Espresso House . It looked like a great place to make my first stop of the day.

After a longer than expected stop at Palio, my wandering began anew. I left the café and walked up Harrison Street, which I would follow for the next few miles. Harrison, as it turns out, is one of the streets that Portland has modified to encourage bicycle commuting. There are bike symbols all along the street, and medians had been placed at major cross streets (leaving a gap for bikes) to discourage cars from traveling down it. As far as I could tell, the changes seemed to be effective. I saw many more bikes than cars or pedestrians.

Being bike-friendly

When I reached 60th, I turned left and walked towards Mount Tabor. Mount Tabor is one of Portland’s gems, and is a good place to walk, run, play tennis, hike, take the kids, take in the views, write stories or just relax on a sunny day. In the summer, Tabor Park is full of people. There is a summer concert series where the City of Portland offers free concerts for anyone. The neighborhoods that surround the mountain are highly-desired places to live and the people I know who live there love it.

Just starting up the mountain

Mount Tabor also has a basketball court, an amphitheater a playground for kids and a couple of nice viewpoints (there would be a lot more spectacular views if the city would cut down all of the massive fir trees that cover the mountain, but I don’t suppose that would go over too well with tree-loving Portland residents). At the top of the mountain, you can barely hear the sounds of the city, so if you need a place to get out of the city without leaving it, I recommend Mount Tabor.

The view from the top

After catching my breath and cooling off on one of the benches on top of the mountain, I decided I had time to visit the Bipartisan Café, since it was only about a mile away from the park. I left the park via the north side stairs and made my way to Stark Street (Note: If you ever want to go to the café from Mount Tabor, make sure you turn right on Yamhill and go to 76th before heading over to Stark—Stark dead-ends at 73rd. You can guess how I figured that out). I finally made it to Bipartisan, where I planned to rest my feet and enjoy one of SE Portland’s more popular cafés. It wasn’t quite as restful as I thought it was going to be (I’ll tell you why soon).

After an hour at the café, I was ready to leave, but it was raining hard. I was going to catch the bus, but David Hubbard, who had met me at the café, was kind enough to offer me a ride back downtown. I gladly accepted and we made our way back to PSU. I arrived home in good spirits. It had been another interesting wander. . .