Salem Saturday, Dec 30 2006 

Waller Hall & Oregon capitol building

Waller Hall & Capitol

Salem is the state capitol of Oregon. The sculpted marble on both sides of the entrance symbolize important elements in the discovery and settling of the state. The golden pioneer that sits atop the capitol building points to a better future. Directly across the street from the capitol is Willamette University, my alma mater. Historic Waller Hall looks to be refurbished and ready to serve another 150 years. The Mark O. Hatfield Library is one of several new buildings that have been added since I attended. The Mill Stream flowing through the campus is now a much more prominent presence than I remember it. The nearby Oregon State School for the Blind served as my home and part-time employer while I was a college student. It is good to connect with familiar landmarks in my life that continue to impact this city and the wider community.

Mt. Hood & Mount St. Helens Friday, Dec 29 2006 

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood Sunset

Although the day started with fog, the sun came out this afternoon and provided glorious views of both Mt. Hood and Mount St. Helens. Mt. Hood, named after British admiral Samuel Hood, is the highest mountain in Oregon. The snow-covered peak rises 11,249 feet about 50 miles east of Portland. Mount St. Helens is about 53 miles from Portland. Its major eruption on May 18, 1980 reduced the elevation from 9,677 feet to 8,364. It is always special to see these impressive mountains!

Chinese Garden Thursday, Dec 28 2006 

Chinese Garden

Chinese Garden

The Chinese concepts of harmony and tranquility are captured in Portland’s Classical Chinese Garden. This is a Ming-style urban garden from Portland’s sister city Suzhou, the city of gardens. The five elements of plants, water, stone, architecture, and poetry compose this exquisitely arranged landscape. The reflections found throughout my walk lent themselves for my own reflections. I also found myself noticing the variations in the mosaic stone path. The infinite wonders of the universe can be experienced within this space.

Japanese Garden Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

gourd in Japanese Garden

Gourd-shaped Bottle

Winter is probably not the best season for visiting the Japanese Garden, five and a half acres in the west hills of Portland. Leaving my winter coat in the car may have also contributed to a less warm reception. A stroll around the gardens, however, with intentional breathing puts one in a meditative mind. Designed by Takuma Tono, five garden styles are featured: Tea Garden, Strolling and Pond Garden, Natural Garden, Sand and Stone Garden, and Flat Garden. The Heavenly Falls is a well-designed waterfall flowing down the hillside. The cranes, located in the Upper Pond, are said to symbolize longevity. The Flat Garden is designed using a sea of raked sand. It has two islands, one depicting a sake cup (signifying pleasure), one a gourd-shaped bottle (signifying a wish for the visitor’s happiness). The Japanese Garden is a cultural wonder where it is possible to see oneself as a small but integral part of the universe.

West Linn & Oregon City Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

Oregon City Bridge & elevator

Oregon City

West Linn has a brand new high school that more closely resembles a college campus rather than the school where I spent four years. The West Linn – Oregon City Bridge remains as I remember it, narrow. The Oregon City elevator is still free and offers a panorama of the Willamette River and the paper mills. Oregon City was the provisional and territorial capital (1843-52) as well as the first incorporated U.S. city west of the Rocky Mountains (1844). After recent rains, the Willamete Falls was nearly full which we observed from viewpoints on both sides of the river. The Willamette Falls was a site for a Native American salmon fishing village. The white settlers used the Falls to furnish power for a lumber mill (1842), a flour mill (1844), a woolen mill (1864), a paper mill (1867), and transmitting power to Portland (1889). When the Willamette Falls Locks opened (1873), it made transport upriver much easier. The Willamette Falls continues to be an important area economic resource.

Christmas Day in Oregon Tuesday, Dec 26 2006 

The Foothills Park in Lake Oswego, a new park reclaimed from a formerly industrial area that had a cement factory and wood chip processing plant, offers views of the Willamette River, including a railroad bridge. Local poet William Stafford is honored with a series of pillars adorned with quotes from his work.

Hawthorne Bridge

Hawthorne Bridge

A walk along the Willamette River Waterfront provides an interesting perspective on some of the bridges of Portland. The Burnside Bridge opened in 1926. This steel double-leaf Strauss bascule drawbridge is 252 feet long. The Morrison Bridge was completed in 1958. It is a 284 foot Steel double-leaf Chicago-style fixed trunnion bascule drawbridge. The 244 foot Hawthorne Bridge, 1910, is the world’s oldest lift bridge. The 440 foot long Marquam, 1966, is the third longest continuous truss bridge in North America and Portland’s busiest bridge.

Lower Multnomah Falls

Lower Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls, east of Portland, is the second largest waterfall in the U.S., with a 620 foot drop. The water flow was much larger than my last visit during the summer three years ago. We also stopped for a closer look at Latourell Falls, which has a drop of about 250 feet. Numerous waterfalls rushed down the hillsides throughout our drive on the Columbus Gorge Scenic Highway. Truly, the sights today were a gift!