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Family Fun, Gardens, Oregon, Outdoor Activities, Pacific Northwest, Portland

It’s Time to Stop and Smell the Roses in Portland

August 31, 2017

A visit to Portland’s world famous International Rose Test Garden is truly a treat for the senses. The heady fragrance of thousands of roses greets you even before you see them. Here on 4.5 acres in the city’s Washington Park, high above Portland’s hustle and bustle, visitors will delight in the sights and aromas of more than 10,000 individual plants and 650 different varieties of gorgeous roses.

About 700,000 people visit Portland’s International Rose Test Garden each year.

With whimsical names like Angel Face, Candy Cane Cocktail, Carmel Kisses, Champagne Wishes, First Crush, Falling in Love and Jump for Joy, giant blooms and tiny tea varieties give approximately 700,000 visitors a year something to smile about.

How about Gold-medal winning Sunshine Daydream to brighten your day?

These beautiful blooms are a delight to the senses.

Barbra Streisand, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Pope John Paul II, Dale Chihuly, Ingrid Bergman, George Burns, Coretta Scott King, Dick Clark, Marilyn Monroe and England’s Queen Elizabeth are among the luminaries who have a namesake rose here.

Well-known people from around the globe including artists, philanthropists, world and religious leaders have namesake roses here.

While the peak month for rose viewing is June, our visit in August was sensational. According to the Portland Parks & Recreation Department, which owns and manages the Rose Garden, roses are in bloom from May through October.

These floral favorites were glorious even in August.

Plan accordingly–we arrived in April one time and were disappointed to see we’d come too early. We enjoyed a stroll through the lovely Japanese Gardens across the street instead (see earlier blog post).

More than 650 varieties of roses are grown here.

“Hot Cocoa” seems right, even in the summer.

The oldest continuously operating public rose test garden in the U.S., Portland’s International Rose Test Garden just celebrated its 100th birthday. The centennial was marked this August with music and other activities.

Portland recently celebrated 100 Years of Roses– that’s why it’s called the Rose City.

During its 100 years of operation the Rose Test Garden has served as just that—a testing ground for new varieties of this floral favorite. During World War I, the Garden also became home and protector of European-grown rose varieties threatened by bombing.

Admission is free and so are guided tours given at 1 p.m. daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

To get the most from your visit, download a self-guided tour from the Rose Garden website www.portlandoregon.gov/parks or join one of the free guided tours offered daily at 1 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Enjoy the roses during your visit but remember, absolutely no plantings or cuttings can be removed from the Garden.

Dick Clark’s namesake rose won “Portland’s Best Rose” last year.

 

Admission to the Rose Garden is free. There is limited metered parking available but it can be a challenge to find due to construction in Washington Park. Consider taking public transportation or a ride share to reach the Garden. Take Trimet MAX to Washington Park and then use the free shuttle from the station that runs throughout the Park.

The next time Portland, Oregon is on your itinerary, treat yourself to a visit here and find out why it’s called the Rose City. And take time to smell, the well… you know!

 

 

 

Family Fun, Gardens, Oregon, Outdoor Activities, Pacific Northwest, Portland

A Walk in the Woods—Portland’s Hoyt Arboretum

May 22, 2017

If you enjoy a walk on the wilder side, visit Portland’s Hoyt Arboretum. Just up the hill in Washington Park from the refined and well-manicured Japanese Garden, nature lovers will find 12 miles of rustic trails that run through the 187-acre park.

Visitors can explore 12 miles of rustic trails, many fairly rugged. There are two miles of trails suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.

Trails are well marked and lead to “family” groupings of trees.

The Hoyt Arboretum boasts 6,000 plants and trees representing 1,100 species and it’s free to visit. The trees, first planted in the 1930s by John W. Duncan, are grouped with others they are related to, in areas closest to their natural, native habitat.

The Hoyt Arboretum is a nature lover’s paradise in Portland’s Washington Park.

Visitors can meander down the Magnolia Trail to the Magnolia Grove or view a broad array of holly on the Holly Loop. You’ll find Oak Trail, Beech Trail, Maple Trail, Hawthorn Trail, Walnut Trail, Redwood Trail, Bristlecone Pine Trail— you get the picture. If you have a favorite kind of tree, chances are you can find it here, along with its closest relatives.

Volcano Vista is one of many scenic spots in the 187-acre “living museum.” Mt. Ranier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood are off in the distance.

Be aware that many of the trails are fairly rugged and not well suited to people with ambulatory challenges. There are, however, two miles of trails appropriate for strollers, wheelchairs and less sure-footed visitors. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes for your Arboretum adventure.

The Magnolia Grove was a personal favorite. There are so many varieties of this beautiful flowering tree to enjoy at the Hoyt Arboretum.

The Hoyt Arboretum hosts 90-minute tours on many Saturdays, but it’s best to call or check the website www.hoytarboretum.org to confirm the schedule. In the autumn, there are Fall Color Tours and during April, which is Arbor Month, volunteer docents guide visitors on the Magnolia and Spring Blossom Tours. A $3 donation is suggested for the tours.  Check with the Arboretum for other tours and events throughout the year.

Check out the guided Magnolia and Spring Blossoms tours, held on Saturdays in the Spring.

The Hoyt Arboretum is pet and family friendly.  We encountered a number of families with cavorting canines and energetic children frolicking in the meadow areas.

Daffodils, a sure harbinger of Spring, were blooming in the Winter Garden during our recent visit.

The Visitor Center, which includes a small nature center and a research library, was closed when we visited, but the restrooms were open. There were brochures available, which included handy trail maps.

There was something to delight the eye in every area of the Hoyt Arboretum. This is a view of the Winter Garden.

There is a Winter Garden to explore and a picnic area when you’re ready for a break. There are no cafes or restaurants on the Arboretum’s grounds so come prepared. We often stop by Elephant’s Deli on NW 22nd Avenue. It’s a great place to pick up provisions on your way to Washington Park. You can order everything from pizza to black bean burgers, prepared while you wait, or order ahead for sandwiches, sack lunches, full picnics, and platters. They also have “grab and go” items, a full bakery, and plenty of specialty foods and gift items. A complete menu is available at www.elephantsdeli.com.

Specialty foods, full picnics, platters, pre-packaged salads and sandwiches, side dishes, baked goods and more are on offer at Elephant’s Deli.

Get a pizza, fried chicken, burgers and other entrees to bring to the park or enjoy before you go. There are no dining facilities at the Hoyt Arboretum so be prepared.

There is a small pay parking lot at the entrance to the Hoyt Arboretum or take the free Washington Park shuttle bus up from the transit center (Max Red or Blue lines to Washington Park). The complimentary shuttle runs around the park from April through October. For current information, please visit www.explorewashingtonpark.org and enjoy your walk in the woods in this remarkable spot in Portland.

 

Architecture, Art, Cultural Attractions, Family Fun, Outdoor Activities, Outdoor Art, Pacific Northwest, Portland

Seeking Serenity at Portland’s Spectacular Japanese Garden

May 9, 2017

Gorgeous grounds, stunning views and an authentic Japanese experience have been delighting visitors to Portland’s spectacular Japanese Garden since 1963. Now, the beautiful 12-acre oasis, which includes five separate gardens with plenty of peaceful seating areas for reflection, a Japanese Tea House, tranquil ponds, and meandering paths perfect for contemplation, has even more to offer. Last month the new $33.5 million Cultural Crossing opened to visitors.

Follow the footpaths, steps and bridges that lead to each of the separate and distinctive garden spaces within Portland’s Japanese Garden.

The new $33.5 million Cultural Crossings expansion project includes new exhibition space, library, tea house and additional garden areas, all designed to enhance the authentic Japanese experience for visitors.

Designed by respected architect Kengo Kuma, the Cultural Crossing’s new buildings provide the perfect showcase for traditional Japanese arts and culture and serve as a venue for family-friendly activities and interesting demonstrations. An already popular attraction is even more appealing with the new expansion project. No wonder the lines for tickets are long. Purchase tickets online and check-in at the membership desk, exchange your voucher for a ticket there, and avoid the serpentine lines that are sure to continue for some time.

Minutes away from Portland’s busy streets, the Portland Japanese Garden is an oasis of tranquility.

Many visitors take the complimentary shuttle up to the gardens and walk back down to the parking area along the paved pathways.

Visitors can either take a complimentary shuttle bus or walk up the pathway to the open and airy Japanese Arts Learning Center–the heart of the new project with performance space, library and classroom.

Young visitors take a break on the steps inside the new Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center.

The ground level Tanabe Gallery currently hosts an exhibition of ceramics, calligraphy, and sculpture by former Japanese Prime Minister Hosokawa Morihiro.

A delightful display of ceramics, calligraphy, and sculpture by former Japanese Prime Minister Hosokawa Morihiro are currently on exhibit in the Tanabe Gallery and Pavilion Gallery.

The expansive display, Hosokawa Morihiro: The Art of Life, a Rebirth in Clay, continues in the Pavilion Gallery, which also includes a portable teahouse.   Two additional “Art in the Garden” showcases, one featuring Kabuki costumes and the other, Noh masks and costumes, are scheduled for later in the year. The Japanese Garden will host related events and activities associated with both.

A portable tea house with the implements needed to perform a classic Japanese tea ceremony are part of the current exhibition. Noh masks and costumes and Kabuki costumes will be featured in the galleries later this year.

Now, to explore these magnificent gardens! The Strolling Pond Garden was our first stop, after a visit to the Learning Center and Gallery. Visitors can walk across the “iconic Moon Bridge” over the Upper Pond and enjoy the views.

Stroll the “Zig-Zag Bridge” over the Lower Pond which is surrounded by iris. It had not quite bloomed at the time of our visit, but was close. The aptly named Heavenly Falls provide the perfect backdrop to the Lower Pond and were a popular “selfie stop.”

The Heavenly Falls provide the perfect backdrop for contemplation or photo opps.

Follow the rough stepping stones along a lantern- lined path through the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden to the authentic Kashintei Tea House. Typically, the tea garden is a place to appreciate nature’s beauty and “the art of living in harmony” while leaving the cares of the world behind. This is certainly the case at the Portland Japanese Garden—it is so serene it’s easy to forget you are mere minutes from busy city streets.

Visitors are invited to leave their worldly cares behind when they explore the authentic tea garden and Kashintei Tea House.

The Kashintei Tea House, which is where tea demonstrations and related events are held, was brought to Portland from Japan and reassembled here.

Contact the Japanese Garden to learn when tea demonstrations and other events are scheduled for the Kashintei Tea House.

The Portland Japanese Garden has a lovely Sand and Stone Garden, created by Professor Takuma Tono, the Garden’s chief designer in the 1960s. These “dry landscape” gardens are sometimes called “Zen Gardens” because they are often found at Zen monasteries and are meant to invite quiet contemplation. The Sand and Stone Garden here illustrates an important Japanese concept—“the beauty of blank space.”

Enjoy your moments of Zen at the Sand and Stone Garden.

Recent additions to Portland’s Japanese Garden include the Natural Garden, which features local plants not typically associated with Japanese gardens and depicts seasonal change.

The cherry blossoms were in full bloom during our recent visit to Portland’s Japanese Garden.

The small courtyard garden (Tsubo-Niwa) and the Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace are both new and located near the Tateuchi Courtyard in the Cultural Village.

Visitors are treated to an exquisite display of bonsai at the new Ellie M.Hill Bonsai Terrace.

The Flat Garden, which highlights each of the four seasons with specific plantings and trees is popular with visitors. The weeping cherry tree on the left represents spring while a 100- year old maple depicts autumn.

The Flat Garden is meant to be viewed from a single angle either from inside a home, where the door or window serves as a frame, or from a verandah, as these visitors are doing.

The gravel stands in for water, signifying summer in the Flat Garden.

After you’ve finished strolling around the gorgeous gardens and interesting exhibitions, stop in and sample the fare at the new Umami Café. During our visit, just a week after the April 2 reopening, the café was not yet serving food but was offering complimentary samples of four delicious teas from Tokyo-based Jugetsudo Tea Company. We were told that light snacks and sweets would be offered in the near future.

Stop in the new Umami Cafe for a restorative cup of tea and authentic Japanese sweets and snacks.

During our visit, guests were offered four different and delicious teas as part of a complimentary tea tasting.

When His Excellency Nobuo Matsunaga, the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States, visited the Portland Japanese Garden, he proclaimed it “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan,” according to the organization.

Tranquil settings such as this one near the Upper Pond, have been drawing visitors since 1963.

They currently report more than 350,000 visitors annually, a number that will surely grow with the addition of the new Cultural Crossroads expansion. Be sure to add this spectacularly beautiful and serene spot to your Portland itinerary.  Visit www.japanesegarden.org for the most up to date information on tickets, events and hours.

 

Family Fun, Outdoor Activities, Park City, Skiing, Utah

Back to (Ski) School— Hitting the Slopes at Deer Valley

December 31, 2016

It had been more than 25 years since I last slid my feet into skis but when the chance came to join some friends on their annual ski trip to Park City, Utah last March, I took it. This would be my first time to visit Utah. A short Delta flight delta.com from San Diego and then an Uber had us in Park City in no time.

There is lodging ranging from hotel rooms to home rentals at all price points in and around Park City. We stayed at a friend’s home in this beautiful area close to both Park City Mountain and Deer Valley.

We set off to get provisions for the house and made a quick trip to Christy Sports Ski and Snowboard Rentals www.christysports.com where my friends had reserved their equipment. Book your gear in advance online and you’ll save about 15 percent. There are numerous rental outlets to choose from in Park City and the ski resorts have their own shops and rental facilities, too. Check around for best prices.

Downtown Park City has plenty of stores, boutiques, galleries and restaurants for every taste and budget. You’ll get the best value in ski gear rentals with an advance booking online at places like Christy’s, which is outside of town.

We had a delicious dinner at the Blind Dog www.blinddogpc.com on our first night. It’s a casual restaurant popular with locals and visitors with an expansive menu sure to please most. There are salads, seafood and steak dishes to choose from, as well as both gluten free and vegetarian options. There is also a sushi menu available, which several in our group chose.

The Blind Dog has lots of menu options including gluten free and vegetarian selections.

Everything was fresh and tasty and the service attentive.The Blind Dog’s “Whine List” has a very good selection with plenty of by- the- glass options, beers, cocktails and sakes. The restaurant also has a gift shop with all manner of Blind Dog merchandise.

Indulge in some after dinner shopping at Blind Dog in Park City, UT.

The next morning we were off to Deer Valley Resort. There wasn’t as much snow as in years past, but the mountains were beautiful and I was excited to start my ski adventure.

Deer Valley is a full- service ski resort with lodging, restaurants, shops, gear rentals and a terrific ski school.

The others were planning to ski both Deer Valley www.deervalley.com and Park City www.parkcitymountain.com during our time there, but I was advised to start at Deer Valley. Their ski school is highly regarded and after my lengthy hiatus from the mountains, lessons were definitely in order. Note: Deer Valley is for skiers only–snowboarders are welcome at Park City Mountain.

Park City Mountain welcomes snowboarders and skiers. Free buses shuttle visitors between the mountain and downtown Park City.

The Deer Valley www.deervalley.com ski school staff suggested I purchase a beginner’s day pass, which allows access up to Silver Lake –about mid-mountain and high enough for me. A beginner’s pass was only $35 while a full day pass was $120 for adults. There are discounts available for seniors, children and military. You must have a pass to take lessons.

You must have a ski pass to take lessons at Deer Valley. The beginner’s ticket is perfect if you’re only planning to go mid-mountain.

I also opted to rent my equipment at Deer Valley. You can purchase your lift ticket, equipment rental and pay for lessons at the rental shop—one stop shopping. Since I chose the three-hour afternoon ski lesson, I was also counseled to wait until noon to get my rentals—great advice since the price is reduced at that time. I found out later that my rental also included a complimentary subscription to Ski Magazine.

Deer Valley has a highly regarded ski school and lived up to its reputation with patient, knowledgeable instructors.

By 12:40 p.m. I was fully outfitted and making my way to join the others in my “Max 4” lesson, so-called because there is a maximum of three other students plus an instructor. Students are matched as much as possible based on level of skill, age, etc. I was with three other women and all had been back on the slopes far more recently than I. Mike Wirt, from upstate New York, was our excellent and patient instructor. He critiqued with kindness, gave practical pointers and instilled confidence in all of us.

Being back on skis after a 25- year hiatus was fun and exhilarating. Yes, I fell a few times but that was no surprise!

I was a little nervous when our instructor took my poles away but it actually helped me improve—immediately. Before long, I was skiing with a new found confidence and while I fell a few times (including a pretty spectacular wipeout that involved a fence), I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I had a wonderful and exhilarating afternoon, and thanks to Mike’s excellent instruction, I’m looking forward to my next adventure on the slopes.

In addition to skiing, you can book snowshoeing and sleigh ride excursions at Deer Valley or rent skates at Park City and take a few turns on their on-site ice rink.

Deer Valley Resort has numerous options for dining and refreshments. I enjoyed a restorative hot cocoa at Deer Valley, Etc., the coffee shop on the plaza level, and a casual lunch at the cafeteria there. My friends dined at Silver Lake Restaurant, which they raved about, but my lesson time precluded meeting up with them mid-mountain.

There are also shops to explore and a handy locker room to stow your stuff while you’re on the slopes at Deer Valley. Lockers are $3 for one- time access. The attended bins are $5 for all day access and can be shared.  This is the way to go if you want to ditch outer layers as the day warms up. You may also store your skis overnight with the attendants. Park City Mountain also offers a variety of dining and shopping opportunities as well, and an on-site outdoor ice rink.

Complimentary buses take visitors from Deer Valley and Park City Mountain to downtown Park City where a free trolley is available.

Local transportation is convenient and complimentary— free shuttle buses take visitors into town, up to Silver Lake, to Park City Mountain and all around the area.  There’s also a free trolley that traverses Park City’s Main Street.

The helpful people at Deer Valley’s information booth are happy to assist with transportation, excursions and dining recommendations. In addition to skiing, shopping and dining, it is also possible to book sleigh rides and snowshoeing outings at Deer Valley. The lack of snow precluded us from those activities last time, but the 2017 season looks promising!