We set out from the Sellwood Riverfront Park Trailhead on bikes. My husband has been teaching our five year old how to ride like a pro and they were anxious to show off.
Being pretty flat and car free, we thought this might be a safe and fun ride for the whole family. Unfortunately, the day was blazingly beautiful and a Sunday. Nearly every person in Portland had the same wonderful idea, so the bike path was ridiculously dangerous. Racers whizzed by us. Walkers passively dawdled and chattered. Large families of multi-chambered strollers totally clogged up the path. Still, the worst diversion was Oaks Park. Riding behind my daughter at a turtle’s pace, I became completely frazzled as I watched her eyes wander over to the joyous screams that floated from roller-coaster rides, carnival games and a giant ferris wheel. Every 2 seconds, I was screaming, “KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD!” or “LOOK WHERE YOU ARE GOING!” Sometimes, this last plea was scoffed at by others flying by because they assumed I was yelling at them, but I wasn’t.
Completely fed up with my nagging, she started turning her head towards me, looking behind her as she pedaled in the lead, to tell me off with a huff. She was the ultimate nightmare of a leader. Squinting, I spotted a yellow sign in the distance and told her we could stop when we reached that spot and nibble our picnic. Thinking this sounded like a reasonable plan, we managed to bike a bit faster and quickly found ourselves at the same railroad crossing we often arrive at from the Oaks Bottom Trailhead.
We decided to cross under the tracks and head in that direction.
Absolutely everything was flooded! We stopped at the small frog pond, where some naturalists had caught some tadpoles in a jar. Eventhough they swam in a clear glass jar directly in front of the kids’ faces, it still took awhile for them to recognize what they were looking at. After that, we spotted tadpoles in all different sizes swimming just about everywhere. A woman walking by guessed that a variety of frog species must be living in the swampy habitat.
We gobbled goldfish, checked out skeeters skittering across the water, and tried to count tadpoles.We noticed a strange water beetle that swim/rolls that I had never seen before, and abruptly decided to continue the adventure on foot.
We locked up the bikes and poked deeper into the woods. At times, a few hikers would surprise us along the trail, but it was considerably less crowded than the paved bike path. Suddenly we heard a loud SMACK!
A beaver slapped his tail against the water and swam into the pond. He slowly paddled toward a small dam and disappeared. In the summer, this entire area is grass. All the water will disappear and we wondered what the beaver will do then.
I searched for mushrooms, but I din’t see any. The girls poked all the tree stumps with sticks, but they found no foxes. Actually seeing a beaver was a real thrill. We went on the beaver hike at Tryon Creek a few months ago and the girls were really into it. We went to the zoo and spent a long time watching the beavers…but accidentally catching sight of one in the wild is just a little more exciting.
Since the girls were getting tired and we had a long ride back, we headed out. While chasing a duck, Sophia fell and scraped up her leg, so the ride back was filled with anguished howls. Sam had to push her for a the last 1/2 mile, while he somehow managed to stay on his own bike with Juliet riding co-pilot. Admirable. I couldn’t hack it and jetted up ahead.