Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oregon Liquid Sunshine

A good morning to hit the ol' blog site and shower some random thoughts and feelings on the world - its your choice whether to give this randomness a few moments of your life!

I got up at 7 this morning, prepared a bowl of cereal with nuts and raisins, realized that I had no milk, and quickly shifted gears. In the absence of eggs, I turned to some leftover rice and stir fried it with kimchi, onions and some sam-gyup-sal (maybe pork bellies?). Breakfast of champions!

I then hopped on my Gary Fisher Montare and headed up Thurman Street and into Forest Park. This is the US's largest metropolitan forest park, and I am loving it - there are about 26 miles of bike trails, if I remember correctly - and the views are stunning. On the google map below (click to view it larger), my house is the green arrow in the bottom right, and the huge green expanse to the left is a portion of Forest Park. My path covers most of what you see below, and has some stunning views!

I headed up Lief Ericson Drive, an old abandoned logging road, and climbed fairly steadily for ~5.5 miles. There is a look off at this point, where I pulled up for a few gulps of water and a handful of peanuts and almonds. The clean air, the trees, and the view are so rewarding the climb is worth it - and really it is so gradual that you are in your seat most of the time.

And at this lookoff I made a new friend. Coming from the urban jungle of Seoul to the true forests of Oregon, I still consider squirrels to be "wildlife" rather than the local opinion that they are pests.

This little guy was on the top of a post a little less than a meter away - and he was scared. Beady eyes on me at every moment as he jittered back and forth around the rim of the post to size up the situation. My heart was pumping from the climb - and his whole body was thumping along with the panicked beats of his own. After half a minute or so he turned to face me square on, stood on hind legs and dramatically clasped his left hand to his pounding heart - I almost laughed out loud at the tragi-comic idea of this poor fellow having a heart attack right there (I really would have felt like shit!).

Another 20 seconds or so of dancing around, and a few more heart clasps, and the little guy finally got up the courage to turn his back and run. Sure, its just a squirrel, but this was a beautiful meeting with the great wild for this city boy!

Back to the trail. Its another mile or so to Saltzman Dr, thankfully most of it is downhill in the lead up to the slogging climb up Saltzman to the head of firelane #5, which at points is wild enough to become barely single-track. This was an exploration for me, since I hadn't ventured off the main trails before. It was sweet to cruise down the hard pack instead of the gravel surface of Lief or Saltzman - but it ended too soon at an intersection with Lief again.

Another ~7 miles back along Saltzman - mostly downhill - took me back to Thurman, and into town, where I stopped in at my regular Starbucks for a well-deserved tall non-fat latte. (Yes, I have added an adjective to my coffee order, but am not yet at the point of rattling off a desire for a "tall non-fat, extra-hot, half-decaf soy latte with whip.")

And home to write to y'all before heading out to a barbecue in the sun that has miraculously peaked through despite the dire forecasts of the past few days!

You see, the season of Oregon Liquid Sunshine is upon us - which translates into rain.

It is interesting being in a new part of the world and not having a clear idea of climate - every day is a revelation, and I don't know what the winter or spring will be like yet. So far I have been blessed with bright sunshine virtually every day, and temperatures bordering on too hot. I think it is not a stretch to say that Portland averages around 28 or 30 degrees celsius in June/July - and I suppose a quick Google search could prove me right or wrong.

But allow me a moment of relaxed laziness as I write this and sip my latte.

Back to the point, such as it is, the rain is not a problem so far, but I am a little trepidatious about what is to come in terms of drizzle and gloom. I need sunshine if I am not to slump into sadness and lethargy! Both Korea and Nova Scotia, being peninsulas, had bright, sunny winters that are the kind that keep your spirit buoyant.

Apparently Portland gets 6 inches of rainin December! That would be fine if it was Korea-style, and poured straight down on you for a few days and then returned to clear skies - but apparently this is 6 inches that drizzles and mists slowly and steadily through the month.

And that's today's weather report my friends. Drop in to Portland anytime and if we are blessed with sunshine instead of showers I will show you the slowly expanding boundaries of my life and world here.


No comments: