That is our slogan.
In my mind, this is a journey to get us back "on track."
To pull us together while they are still young.
Sometimes I just watch Jake. He seems to be in some sort of childhood twilight and the looks in his eyes or the new smiles on his face have a way of making me reflect on the progression of this short time with them. In their lives we are everything...for now.
Jake still sits down to play with the beloved Playmobil and can enjoy an imaginary game with Oliver in which puppies control the forest against lions. Then there are those moments he looks at his siblings and seems to be looking back at the games he used to play.
50 miles together.
This hike marked miles 8-15 and here is the account:
Josh and I have liked the idea of urban hiking for quite awhile. I am one of those who looks longingly at the couples traveling around with backpacks. I envy the idea of walking around Europe...or elsewhere, traveling from hostel to hostel and seeing the sights. Now the idea that our kids are big enough to enjoy even a taste of that thrills me.
So with the help of Googlemaps and some Portland friends, we etched out a 5 mile hike around the City of Roses.
There aren't really many rules or directions on a hike like this, but it does help to have a plan. We wanted to show them some of the iconic Portland places so we started with one of the newest: The OHSU Skytram.
The cost was reasonable, especially since children under 6 and OHSU students are free. Everything from the parking garage to the elevator was exciting for these small town children. But the sky tram...that topped the cake! Ollie was a bit nervous when his brothers described it as "getting into a big box and going way up high over the freeway" but soon calmed down when he saw the actual "box."
We didn't spend too long walking around as we were all ready to start the actual hike, so we took our return trip back down and waved goodbye to the Skytram.
Our route started on a very nice empty sidewalk passing by construction on the new OHSU buildings. In the forest it is easy to feel small, but the largeness of nature seems to be drawing you out. It lends to the desire of stretching up your arms, breathing deeply, and allowing your children to go just a little further than normal. In the city, I also feel small. But from this feeling of insignificance comes the urge to stay together. To watch everyone a little bit closer...to pull together.
Up stairs and down sidewalks; through hidden parks and into busy roads. We made our way downtown and had a great time spotting the outdoor art scattered around the city.
The fountain park downtown was our first big stop. I knew in my head that falling in wouldn't be a huge deal, but that did not translate well to the rest of me. Most of the time was spent anxiously watching them jump over the water, run too quickly and go a little too close to the edge. They were rallied together with hard candies and were then ready to go on our way.
Ollie had a fever at the end of the day...no wonder this was a high complaint trip for him.
Behind the waterfall
One way to describe our hike through the city would be to compare it to a trip through costco. Complete with distractions galore and more samples than you know what to do with! It was the festival of flowers and along the way we got everything from free strawberry shortcake to music to henna and temporary tattoos.
Pioneer Courthouse Square was a stop on the list and we made it just in time for lunch! Nothing says Portland like a nice selection of food cart meals in Portland's living room. Josh had Greek, the younger boys chose grilled cheese and Jake and I enjoyed a *much too large* portion of Thai food. In the moments between chasing pigeons and hanging from statues, we enjoyed lunch together .
Just down the road and a few turns and we hit Powell's. Really, every Oregonian child needs to experience Powell's. I remember it as a young child: an entire city block of books and, what is more, a bookstore where one needs a map to get around. Brilliant!
All this downtown sidewalk walking was wearing on me...and I needed a coffee (another perk of urban hiking, especially in Portland). A few blocks and we had found a place for refreshment and headed towards the river. From here we would walk across the Hawthorn (because bridge crossing is always great fun).
The walk across the river, while invigorating, stimulated an urgent need for a restroom in a couple of the hikers so we made the .5 mile walk down to OMSI only to find it closed. For some reason, Ollie was happy about this.
Thank you PCC Climb Center for the use of your restrooms. Back we went across the river. On our original route we had planned to cross the Ross Island Bridge, but after reading this post and a recommendation from a friend to make sure we cross the Hawthorn we decided not to risk it. Yeah, urban hiking takes a little bit of planning if kids and safety are involved.
It was around this time that Lily decided she wanted to get out of her shell and walk around. Riding is hard work too ;)
We weren't sure of the distance we had come but it sure seemed like more than four miles so we decided to cut out our last stop: Lovejoy Fountain. However, upon meandering our way in the direction of our endpoint, we ended up running across it anyway.
Here is Noah testing the limits of what he should do.
Here is my trying to get a nice picture of these two.
Here we are standing over a sign after walking in a direction only to find out it would not be a good way to go. "Every direction leads us back again."
When we reached the OHSU parking garage and saw our lonely van sitting at the end of the dark cave, we joined hands and walked the last few steps side by side.
About the "Trail"
Everyone should experience urban hiking. Cities are beautiful things, as are the people who inhabit them. My main advice: don't fear the city. There just aren't that many bad areas in the middle of the day. Be sure to pack your smile. From the OHSU buildings to downtown...down Burnside and across the river...there was never a moment I felt uncomfortable with the kids.