Lions Wearing Masks? And Other Signs of the Times

I’ve been taking afternoon bike rides (which are lovely) and enjoyed finding these two figureheads setting a good example for the neighborhood.

I like how stylish their masks are.

The bridge on Willamette right before the turnoff to Fred Meyer has been a landing place for signs.

While every death like George Floyd’s is heartbreaking, Breonna Taylor’s murder hit me hard.

Quality bike parking at the EMSWCD

I went to pick up the native plants I ordered from the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District and I found this hearty and well-covered structure.

Way to do it right, EMSWCD. I forgive you for interviewing me twice and then never officially telling me I didn’t get the job. I didn’t get it right? Because if I did, I’m 12 years late.

Biking update: paying for supplies

When I started biking to work again, I needed to invest in some bike-worthy clothing for the winter months. While getting to work via bike is much cheaper than via car, it does have its costs. The trick, as with all saving money things, is to keep them below the cost of other ways to get to work.

(The only thing cheaper than bike riding would be walking to work, as it only requires a decent pair of shoes and something to keep the elements out. It does take substantially more time, though.)

In my case, I can pay $5 per day to ride the train round trip, or I can bike and pocket the cost of the commute. When I make a big bike purchase, I like to see how long it takes to pay it off. This keeps me in economical bike gear as bike jackets can be very expensive.

While I was riding to pay off my bike gear, someone stole my bike light and I had to pony up 6 more days of biking to break even on that.
I spent $115.00 on gear. Here’s what I bought:

At Goodwill, I went to the men’s section and bought three sweaters/sweatshirts. I was hoping for wool to keep off the rain, but no wool sweaters were to be found. I also bought four long-sleeved long-johns-type shirts for a base layer. Also, because my job involves walking to the bank to deposit checks, and not wanting to wander the city in my biking outerwear, I bought a second work coat to leave at work, which cost $30.00. Goodwill in Portland tends to be a rather expensive endeavor, considering it’s all used clothing that are donated.

My plan was that I would have the base layer and the heavy sweater and that would be enough to keep me warm. When it rained, I would use my bike poncho. However, I forgot something important: pockets.

Unless it is very cold (which doesn’t happen very often in Portland, even in the winter) I start my commute wearing those small stretchy gloves one can buy at every discount store in the winter. Halfway through the ride, my hands warm up and I take off the gloves and shove them in my pockets.

No pockets meant I lost some gloves, because they fell out of my basket. Also, I wasn’t adequately lit, which meant bringing along a reflective vest which was yet another layer to put on and take off.

So I had to pony up some more cash and return to my trusty affordable jacket to wear while biking (as opposed to a bike jacket.)  The orange monstrosity you see, is a flagger windbreaker. I previously had one in yellow, which I wore for many years. I was very excited to see that now I had the option of orange. This jacket costs around $40, is a nice layer against rain and cold, is obnoxiously reflective and also has pockets. I recommend such a jacket to all economical bike riders. In fact, I wish more people would wear them because I feel 20% dorky in mine and if they were more ubiquitous, that feeling would probably fade.
As the winter wore on, I realized I had overbought. I could have easily done with two sweaters and two base layers, which would have reduced my cost by about $20.

Overall, I’m happy with my biking clothing choices and feel that they served me well during the cold season. I’m looking forward to using them again next year, when they will be “free” to use.

Of note: I don’t factor in the cost of annual tune-ups to my bike commute costs. My tuneup this year cost $250 which means it would take 25 weeks of twice-per-week biking to pay it off. That’s too depressing to think about. I’m going to have a bike even if I don’t commute to work via bike, so I’m looping annual tuneup price into my “general vehicle expenses” category.

The biking diameter

I’ve not been biking as much as I used to.  And I don’t love that.  But it’s so easy to take the car to short errands.  I’ve also learned enough about myself to know that if I decree “Must Bike Everywhere” I won’t do it.  So I’ve established a radius of one mile from my home.  Anything needed to be gotten in this area will be either walked to or biked to.

In a few months, I’ll increase the radius to 1.5 miles.

I spy an STP finisher


I’m not at all in a long-distance bicycling portion of my life, but I think I will be again, someday.  Which means someday I will complete the STP, just like this guy.

While I was waiting at the light, I could see hordes of other finishers crossing the intersection behind me, but by the time I got my camera the light had changed and I missed out on a great picture.

Bike ride.

I took the long way to St. Johns because it was such a nice day.  I got extra time to contemplate the nice day while I waited for the train to pass.  I came upon the train midway through and still counted over one hundred cars.
 
A view of the slough. (It rhymes!)
 
Don’t go here on the bike path.  Happily, I’m almost to my destination.
 
Yep.  The Willamette and Columbia are still confluence-ing here, at Kelly Point Park.  I like to go and check on them every once in awhile, just to make sure.
 
Blue skies and power lines just past Kelly Point Park.  Soon after that I took a wrong turn and made my ride longer than it needed to be.  But it was such a nice day, I was happy.
 

Vancouver Lake Bike Ride

I’m looking for some good swimming holes in the Portland Area. For when the hot weather comes. “You mean the one day of hot weather?” people comment when I say this. It’s been a very cold spring and last summer was more “Arctic” than “Summer,” as evidenced by the sad looks on the many urban tomato growers as we headed into September with nary a ripe tomato.

Portland does not seem to have an abundance of places to swim that are not rivers. I think this is because the mild summers don’t drive people to find or make bodies of water suitable for swimming. When 80 degrees is considered “hot,” sitting in front of a fan is enough to become “cool” again. Because I grew up in the hundred degree heat of Boise, Idaho summers, I am used to retreating to the water when temperatures shoot up.

I’ve already explored Blue Lake and found it lacking. There’s no actual swimming to be done there, just standing in waist deep water and chatting with your companions. So I headed out on the bike to Vancouver Lake to see if it might be a solution for a future hot day.

On the way, I stopped at the quiet Liberty Park for a bite of lunch.

It was quite a delicious lunch and I congratulated myself for creating it.

Heading out of Vancouver, I had to cross the Railroad tracks. This sign was funny because the way the tracks cross the intersection there is NO WAY you could turn right from this intersection when a train is present.

It’s not far to Vancouver Lake and these signs kept me appraised of just how close I was getting.

The Columbia River was flooding, spilling extra water into wetlands. The sky was blue, the wind was cold, it was a holiday weekend and no one was on the road with me. Not cars, not bikes. For a bit I wondered if the rapture had happened.

There were a few people at the crew club on the lake, but the park itself was also eerily deserted.

The lake too, showed signs of flooding. There were actually two people swimming in the lake, despite the cold. They were wearing wet suits. Verdict: It looks like a promising lake for a swim on a hot day.

One of the other reasons I wanted to visit the lake was because I am reading the Brothers K by David James Duncan. It’s set in Camas, Washington and Vancouver Lake is referenced. In the book, all the cows at the dairy near the lake die, and Alcoa is blamed for their deaths, due to the pollution in the water. Alcoa, however, buys a bunch of cows and sets them to grazing in the same spot to prove the water is fine. However, one of the characters has a classmate whose father is paid by Alcoa to drag away the dead cattle every day.

So I enjoyed this sign, the main gist of I will translate for you:
1887: Vancouver Lake was 20 ft. deep & full of fish
1976: Vancouver Lake was 3ft. deep & had no fish.

That sign was right next to this more official looking one.

Which here describes Alcoa’s donation of 112 acres. Later on in the sign it says, “Due to the generosity of…the Aluminum Company of America…Clark County was able to acquire and develop Vancouver Lake for your enjoyment.” This makes Alcoa seem quite generous. Except that the other sign references the 17 million dollars spent in 1983 to clean up the lake. So, essentially, Alcoa got to pollute for as long as they wanted, “donated” the land to the people and the people got to clean up after them. Good job Alcoa! So generous.

Heron. A sign along my way described the many heron nesting spots around the lake.

I rode on to Frenchman’s Bar. On the way, I stopped to read this sign, which pointed me to the view of the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers.

I then captured this view of said confluence. On the Oregon side of the river, you can see this at Kelly Point park.

I saw three cats on my journey. One was obviously feral, but I’m thinking this one and the other one–who did not pose for a picture–lived at the Frenchman’s Bar caretaker house nearby.

The mighty Columbia rolls on. You can see the flooding: the bushes are partially submerged.

More ship, more sky, more people over here at Frenchman’s Bar.

Apparently it was the place to go to fish, because that’s what all the people were doing.

Riding back, I can say I was within the limit.

When we hit that speed zone I was still okay.