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Archive for oregon

The Humongous Fungus

By Linda Tancs

The world’s largest living organism is a fungus. Dubbed “the humongous fungus” by forest officials, on the surface it looks like an ordinary mushroom, but its underground labyrinth is extensive and has been growing for thousands of years. It’s located in the Reynolds Creek and Clear Creek areas in the northeastern portion of Oregon’s Malheur National Forest. The only visible traces of the mushroom appear in the fall, but groves of standing dead conifers give testimony to the fungus’s role as a tree-killing pathogen. But don’t despair. There’s plenty of life in the forest, like high desert grasslands, sage and juniper, alpine lakes, meadows and the only isolated stand of Alaska yellow cedar east of the Cascades in the United States at the Cedar Grove Botanical Area.

America’s First Scenic Byway

By Linda Tancs

Columbia River Highway is America’s first scenic byway and a National Historic Landmark. Dubbed the “King of Roads,” the 70-mile route extends between Troutdale and The Dalles. It was built through the Columbia River Gorge between 1913 and 1922 and offers scenes ranging from waterfalls galore to clifftop views above the river. Beginning at the city of Troutdale and traveling east, you’ll find Oregon’s most visited waterfall, Multnomah Falls. To travel the byway, follow the keystone signs from Troutdale east to Dodson and from Mosier east to The Dalles. Spring through fall is the best time to drive. Start now; during the spring, the gorge area erupts into magnificent wildflower displays, including many plants that only exist there.

Whales in Oregon

By Linda Tancs

Whale watching in Oregon begins in late March as gray whales travel north on their way toward Alaska. And there are approximately 200 whales that remain in the state’s coastal waters during the summer migration. A good viewpoint is Cape Falcon Marine Reserve and Protected Area, which is located adjacent to Oswald West State Park. Just 10 miles south of the popular seaside town of Cannon Beach, the park is also known for Short Sand Beach (Shorty’s), a popular surfing and boogie boarding destination surrounded by forests and sandstone cliffs. Park in one of four parking lots along Highway 101 and enter one of the best preserved coastal rainforests in Oregon.

A Grand Prospect in Oregon

By Linda Tancs

Nestled between Seaside and Cannon Beach is Oregon’s Ecola State Park, a protected coastal area 9 miles long with scenic views so striking that explorer William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition described it as the “grandest and most pleasing prospect” he had ever surveyed. He was speaking of the view from the north slope of Tillamook Head, a high point on the trail between Seaside and Indian Beach, a popular surfing locale. Named for the Tillamook tribes in whose ancestral territory the headland is located, the trail follows the coastal exploration route used by Captain Clark in the winter of 1806. But the grand views begin at the entrance road itself, which follows an old growth Sitka spruce forest, eventually opening up to a grassy bluff offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean where the historic Tillamook Rock Lighthouse stands just offshore on a lone basalt rock. Take advantage of the numerous paved trails for panoramic views.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Painted Hills

By Linda Tancs

Red, yellow, gold and black. Those represent the color palette at Painted Hills in Oregon. As the name implies, the hills are interspersed with hues stratifying the soil, revealing millions of years of the earth’s history in an otherworldly vista. Located in central Oregon, it’s part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Five trails mark the eight-square-mile site. For breathtaking panoramic views, take the Carroll Rim Trail. Beautiful at any time of day, the hills are best lit for photography in the late afternoon. Changing light and moisture levels (as well as seasonal variations) will affect the tones and hues visible in the hills.

Finders Keepers in Oregon

By Linda Tancs

Finders Keepers is a beloved event in Lincoln City, Oregon. The year-round event gives treasure seekers the chance to hunt for glass art (floats) along the town’s seven miles of public beach from Roads End in the north to Siletz Bay in the south. Strategically placed throughout the day, you should look above the high tide line and below the beach embankment. In celebration of the event’s 20th year, they’ve been hiding 20 limited edition glass floats on the beach on the 20th of every month since last October. You still have a shot at finding one this month and next. Regardless when you hunt, be sure to register your find for a certificate of authenticity and information about the artist who crafted your float.

The World’s Smallest Park

By Linda Tancs

You’ll often hear people say “sneeze and you’ll miss it” if a destination is a bit off the beaten track. Well, you could literally sneeze and miss Mill Ends Park in Portland, Oregon. Dubbed “the world’s smallest park,” this particular stretch of the city’s greenway is about two feet in diameter, a circular plot located on a median in the middle of busy Naito Parkway. And yes, it really is an official municipal park (since 1976), one of about 200 in the city, originally an empty hole where a light pole was supposed to be installed. Inspired by the neglected hole, an Irish journalist in the 1940s wrote of it as the fantastical locale for a colony of leprechauns. Not surprisingly, it continues to be the site of St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Seattle’s Favorite Market

By Linda Tancs

The Space Needle may be iconic, but no visit to Seattle, Washington, would be complete without a trip to Pike Place Market, a nine-acre public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront. Opened in 1907, it’s one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States, offering a multisensory experience of sight, sound and taste among its historic arcade, winding alleys, stairways and lower levels. Beloved by locals and visitors alike, one of its best known features is the throwing of fish across the aisle by fishmongers. Mornings before noon are generally the best time to visit, but this time of year is fabulously free of crowds. Take a self-guided walking tour with one of the market’s pocket guides. The information booth is located on Pike Street about 100 feet in front of the Public Market clock and sign.

Playing Games in Oregon

By Linda Tancs

Gaming and puzzlery is an ancient pursuit, older than writing. At the Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery in King City, Oregon, they want to entertain you with the history of thousands of games, puzzles and related materials from many countries and traditions.  With more than 4,000 games to play, you’ll have a choice among puzzles, traditional board games, modern board games, dexterity games, eurogames and construction toys. The facility is open Wednesdays through Sundays.

The Pacific Crest Trail

By Linda Tancs

One of the original national scenic trails established by Congress in the 1968 National Trails System Act, the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail generally runs along the high crests of the Sierra and Cascades mountain ranges. Beginning in southern California at the Mexican border, the trail marks a total distance of 2,650 miles through California (passing through five state parks), Oregon, and Washington until reaching the Canadian border. The trail is open to the public from April to September for foot and equestrian travel only. About 200 people attempt to hike the length of the trail each season, generally starting at the Mexican border and ending at the Canadian border. Only a few equestrians have ever ridden the entire trail.

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