Tag Archives: nature

Exploring the Willamette Valley: Minto-Brown Island Park

Minto 3I have neglected walking for the last couple of months. It’s been on my list of things to get better about (along with a cleaner kitchen) and this week I finally dragged myself out first thing Monday morning to explore a new park. Ironically, then the blog post didn’t end up happening until today, but hey, I’m walking again.

I went to explore Minto-Brown Island Park, located in south Salem off of River Road. The park is the largest one I know of in the Salem area, although I haven’t been in years. Despite the name, Minto is not actually an island, something that I’ve always rolled my eyes about. However, upon arriving there, I found a sign patiently explaining it’s called that because it used to be an island, or actually two islands, one named Minto and one named Brown after the people who settled them. Over the years, less rainfall and the shifting river-bed has meant that neither are true islands anymore, although in a large flood they might end up underwater. Originally used for farmland, the land is now  a wild-life refuge.Minto 4

I had vague memories of Minto last time I lived in Salem, but it’d be so long I wasn’t sure what to expect. Apparently this time of year, the park tends to be misty in the mornings. Both Monday and Tuesday had it covered in thick mists that obscured the view across the open fields, but this did nothing to diminish the walk. Instead it felt a bit like entering a fantasy world. The larger size of the park meant I could finally take a walk that really felt I was out in nature, even if it lacked the stunning beauty of the gorge. I had a fabulous time.

Minto 2

Much of the Willamette Valley is rather swampy, and Minto is no exception. With streams, ponds, and rather boggy areas, I quickly found this time of year at least, to stay to the paved paths. Fortunately Minto has plenty of long paved hikes even if there’s more unpaved ones. I only walked a fraction of the paved section. The mist though made for some pretty effects with the light and while popular enough for hiking and running (I saw several people) it isn’t nearly as crowded as Riverfront.

The land seemed to alternate between fields and trees planted in rows, but whatever environmental restoration they’ve been working on, it seems to be working. I saw several hawks and even a bald eagle. Hopefully I will continue to see interesting  wildlife as I continue, although I hope not too interesting (there was a cougar sighting warning sign on the entrance bulletin board, but that’s normal for just about everywhere in rural Oregon). It was wonderful to be out in nature properly without having to drive very far.Minto 5

On thing that amused me though, was the mist and my unfamiliarity with the park meant I misread the sign on Monday and got a bi t lost as the trails are rather long and cross each other multiple times without clear signage, but  I didn’t mind since I knew I could always turn around, and managed to find my way around a loop to the parking lot with only a small amount of backtracking. I’ve had better success reading the sign the last two days, and I’m looking forward to trying some of the other loops. The park has so many different loops and it will be a long time before I’ve exhausted all the trails.Minto 6

Columbia Gorge: sad goodbyes and new hopes

gorge: wind mountainIt’s been a very hectic last 3 weeks.  I apologize for the blogging silence, and ought to be able to stay on track now.  As many of you know, my husband’s company went out of business, and since there’s not many companies in the gorge, and none of the ones there are are hiring positions he fits, we had to move.  Moving quickly meant we saved money, since we’re going to live with my parents until he gets a new job.

I’ve had a hard time leaving the gorge.  I loved it out there, the stunning natural wonders, the long hikes, and the people in the community of Hood River.  I’m still planning so long as I’m in the Portland area to keep on with my new writing group with Zoe (pronounced rhyming with Joey, not toe) once a week.  Every Tuesday since Nanowrimo we’ve kept up the write in, although we end up debating what makes a good story more often then actually writing.  I’ve also promised myself to go hiking out there regularly as the weather gets better, it’s such an inspiration.

gorge starvation creekWhile I’m hopeful that there’ll be new and exciting things where ever we live next, it’s a bit stressful I have no idea where that’s going to be.  Sigh.  We’re pretty much job searching in all of Western Oregon.  On the bright side, we have wonderful families to support us during this time of transition, something I’m really grateful for.

I hope to come back to the gorge (perhaps when I’m a famous best selling author with an independent income, right?), as I’ve really loved living out here, but if not, I will let it remain a very active part of my life.  The depth of the inspiration to my writing and spirituality here has been amazing.  There’s so much I still have yet to explore.  I’d like this summer to explore every single exist between Troutdale and The Dalles once the weather is nicer.  There’s a few I’ve never taken (like Wyeth) and some I’ve only done a couple things on that have a ton of interesting hikes I have yet to try (like around Bonneville dam).

gorge: bigen washington

The gorge is also recognizable in several quiet ways in my novels, and I expect it’ll keep showing up.  It’s on the same scale as the stunning natural scapes we see in the Lord of the Rings movies (I’d love to see New Zealand also) and close to home so I don’t need to save up any money to just spend a sunny afternoon hiking in it.  But I also remind myself that Oregon and Washington have plenty of other great natural things to see, even if they aren’t as breathtaking, and so wherever I end up, I hope to be able to keep featuring interesting hikes I’m taking as regular blog posts.