This summer we hit up the park at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers a couple of times. Beating the heat with a cool swim next to ships getting loaded with cargo destined for far off places. The beaches were packed and the mood was festive. Six months later at those same beaches we found new adventures in the midst of much fewer people. This past weekend the boys and I headed down to Kelley Point Park in Portland on a cold misty day. There were a few people walking dogs but we were mostly alone in the fog and sand. We played “I betcha can’t do this” trying to find things that the others couldn’t do like walking on wet logs or jumping over sand dunes. As we walked along the Columbia river around the point where the Willamette sneaks away we found a ton of drift wood. We set about making a shelter that soon turned into a fort/food cart/castle.
I wasn’t sure about heading to the beach on that wet cold day but we needed to get out of the house and explore somewhere and I found myself driving that way without any real plan. After a couple hours playing on the beach I realized that this was the very thing i grew up doing farther down the Columbia towards the Pacific Ocean. We played on the river what ever the weather and knew that there was as much fun to be had in the rain as there was in the heat of summer. I’m not sure why this was such a revelation for me but I was caught off guard by the off season nature of a familiar place. A favorite summer swimming hole could also be a great winter adventure land where the fog added mystery. We worked and played on that beach until our structure was complete and ate pretend burgers from the walk up window before heading back to the car and on to find warm drinks and dry clothes.
I love living in the North West where wet days don’t always mean indoor fun. While there are many great places to play inside when it gets wet and cold there are also so many great spots to explore outside with wet hair and rosy cheeks.
This Sunday, March 16th, take your family on a fun, musical adventure from the Portland Youth Philharmonic! Just hop on the MAX train and bring your little ones and your comfy cushions to this affordable, interactive, 45-minute concert designed for children aged 2-8. Arrive a half-hour before each performance to experience our “instrument petting zoo” and try instruments in the string family. Young String Ensemble conducted by Carol Sindell. You can find more information on Facebook or by checking out the Portland Youth Harmonic Twitter feed. Hope to see you there.
I remember as kid dreaming about my birthday weeks in advance. What would I get, would it be cool, could it be a new bike? A new bike was the holy grail of birthday gifts and as I’ve gotten older things have changed. After 39 years a great birthday gift is a bottle of some great liquor or some vinyl from that new hipster americana band with 37 members. For my birthday last weekend I was brought back to that wonderful childhood feeling when Beautiful and Primo brought home my present after a first grade campout. Primo ruined the surprise by telling me that they picked up a Cargo bike but I didn’t believe him. It was true though, I got a brand new bike for my birthday, and an amazing cargo bike at that.
My new bike can carry our whole family, and we have made a couple of rides around the block to prove it. 440 pounds of cargo + the rider. Essentially I will give out before this bike does. In the past few days I have taken Beautiful and Segundo to the park, both boys to and from school, and Beautiful has even carted the boys across town for Saturday night ride to dinner. I love this bike! I love having the boys on the back as we ride home from school and the tell me about their day. I love strapping and tieing and bungying stuff that I need to carry. I love getting to have that magic of being a kid again and getting that birthday bike.
This is really the right window, the others were just guesses
these are holy rocks
a spaceship, or lantern, one can never be sure
Through the looking glass
This one looks like my brother
This past weekend we braved the cold mist and walked the Chinese Gardens in downtown Portland. I tried to get the boys to move slow, to take in the quiet, and contemplate the beauty but they had a scavenger hunt and everyone knows you can’t half ass a scavenger hunt. That is the way my boys see moving slowly and contemplating, the way Chip Kelly see’s punting on 4th down. That’s just for quitters. So we moved through the gardens not like pilgrims seeking peace but as Spanish Conquistadores in search of gold. What we found was a great time in a special place in the heart of the city. The truth is there are many places like this in Portland but I love the juxtaposition of the cars in trains just outside the ornate windows of the garden. I think the boys liked walking through the gates into a different world. But that is the business of the children isn’t it. Finding other worlds in the heart of their ordinary cities. I just had an easier time of tracking with them this time.
Last month Segundo and I chatted with a journalist about being an at home dad in Portland and this month that story is in Metro Parent magazine. If you live in the Portland area head over to your local Fred Meyer and pick up a free copy of the story or head over to their website andview the article on-line. It even has a picture of the boys and I in our best supporters scarfs.
Segundo wanted to go on an adventure. “Let’s take the bus daddy, when we go pick up Primo let’s take the bus!” He was excited and it was raining so why not. We could ride the bike and he could sit in his warm trailer dry and happy as a clam while I pedaled into the blustery mist of swirling seas, or something like that. No taking the bus sounded great so I checked in with the trip planner and found our best route. A simple matter of taking the 4 bus to the train and the train to the school, we can do this.
Step one, get on the right number bus going in the wrong direction. At first I was mad that Tri-met’s trip planner lead me astray but after thinking about it for a bit I realized my error. Getting on the bus that was going in the wrong direction from where I wanted to go should have been my first clue but I just thought it looped around.
Step two, Choose another bus that will get you there on time. The 75 bus would still get us where we needed to go and might even get us to the train on time. The bus was early picking us up but the driver waited at the next stop for 2 minutes because she was ahead of schedule. We made it to the train just as the max was pulling away. That train would have put us right in front of the school just as Primo was done but instead we waited another 15 minutes for the next train.
Step Three, get off the train one stop too early. Flustered and a little wet I thought we were at the school but we weren’t. We had to walk 8 more blocks to get to the stop we should have gotten off at and at this point we were 20 minutes late picking up the boy. He was not happy but at least I wasn’t the last parent there. His teacher had a good laugh at my retelling of the story and Primo soon warmed to the idea of a trip back home on the bus. We stopped for some lunch and by the time we were walking the last bit to our house we were all soaked but enjoying the adventure we had originally set out on.
Here in Portland we have some great musicians making music for kids and the young at heart. One of our favorites is Mo Phillips and his perpetual Support Your Local Dad Tour. Mo is releasing a new album, called Monster Suit, this April and some friends are joining him for the release party at McMenamins Kennedy School. 5:00 PM Saturday April 14th Mo will be joined by Portland musical luminaries Lori Henriques, Little Sue, Lincoln Crockett, and Johnny Keener for the release of Monster Suit. If you live in the Portland Area you need to get this show on you calendar and head on down to the Kennedy School for what promises to be a fun show. While you’re at it head over to the great blog Out With The Kids and grab the new podcast that Jeff Bogle is doing highlighting great Kids music each month. The song “Big Red Truck” off Phillips new album is featured on the podcast as well as other fun songs that parents will love.
MO PHILLIPS’ MONSTER SUIT FAMILY CD RELEASE CELEBRATION! with special guest band mates Lori Henriques, Little Sue, Lincoln Crockett, and Johnny Keener