I love it when a routine bike ride turns into something a little different. This morning, with a promising break in the rain, I set out on my 1975 Centurion for what I thought would be my usual route out to Oaks Bottom and back to town on the Springwater Trail, with a brief stop at Tadpole Pond. But, as I was getting underway, I could see that other COVID escapees had a similar plan. My initial leg of the journey was crammed with pedestrians and other cyclists, as well as a fair number of cars. So, en route I veered off course.
I headed south on SE 28th, past Clinton and Powell, and at that point thought that maybe a stop at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden would be first up. I cycled past the encampments which line 28th as one approaches the East Moreland golf course. The course was fully stocked with golfers teeing off on its manicured greens, and offered a disturbing contrast to the disarray of the encampments just across the course’s fence line. But, I kept my thoughts in check as I maneuvered the bike through the debris and then pulled in to the Rhodie Garden’s parking lot. There were only two other bikes parked there, including a cargo bike with kid’s strider bike tucked neatly into its giant bags.
Unfortunately, once again everyone seemed to have the same idea as I did, and the Gardens were jammed with people taking in the serenity of the 9.5 acre park, with its teeming waterfowl. So, I opted not to go in. The above videos are from a recent visit (middle of the week, rainy day) when I was lucky to be one of just a few guests. The birds featured in the 2nd video above are American Wigeons, a type of duck with an interesting, delicate call.
Upon deciding not to head down to Oaks Bottom, which I suspected would also be crowded, I meandered back into town going first north on 22nd from the Sellwood area, and then followed previously un-vetted (by me) cycling “greenway” routes back in to town. As is sometimes the case with Portland’s cycling infrastructure, the recommended routes can be ill-conceived which I discovered when I found myself at the apex of a 5 way multi-lane intersection with no bike lane in sight. Once I’d found my way again, I finally had a chance to see the Gideon Crossing, a structure which was built to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians waiting on railroad crossings. This part of my route was at one time a section of my regular commute but I haven’t been out this way for about a year and a half. I tried out the elevator, and then walked my bike across the bridge. All worked fine, and the view from up top was fun.
Once back in town, I stopped off at one of my favorite local haunts, and a place that I miss now that “hanging out” is not an option. Often there are interesting bikes (and persons!) parked out front. Today it was quiet, so I ordered a latte and began a walk through the neighborhood while I sipped my decaf, in between re-masking whenever others were nearby.
And that’s when today’s special moment happened. I approached an intersection that I ride every day on my commute, but I came at it from a different direction. I caught a whiff of something extraordinary and unexpected during the height of winter: the fragrance of jasmine, strong and powerful. I looked up to see a lovely stone house with a front garden which has to be the envy of all its neighbors. It was teeming with jasmine plants in full bloom and with ripe berries as well. What a fantastic way to wrap up today’s journey. In that instance, my trip turned into an adventure instead of a ride. The fragrance of the jasmine is still with me.