Archive | May 2014

Oxbow Regional Park

Sandy River Oregon

The 14th annual Sandy River Spey Clave  on the Sandy River, in Oxbow Park  just outside of Portland, Oregon took place this past weekend (May 16-18). Hundreds of spey fly-fishers gathered over the weekend to attend lectures and learn from Pacific Northwest anglers.

Group at Spey Clave

Lecture/Demo at Spey Clave

During three days of fish-fun, attendees also had the opportunity to shop for gear and angling paraphernalia. The booths lined a reserved green open space, offering freedom to try out gear and land practice newly learned techniques.

Booths at Spey Clave

Oxbow Park Green Area

For the fun of learning something new, I took advantage of the Friday offer for a free beginner course in spey fly-fishing (pre-registration requested). Since I had been out of state on Mother’s Day and my mom had been talking of learning to fish for a while now, I took her along adventuring.

Before the beginner lesson time, all in attendance fortified themselves with a free lunch prepared by El Burro Loco, which smelled delicious and tasted amazing. After lunch the Fly Fishing Shop and Simms Fishing Products employees set us up with waders and boots, loaned free for the lesson. We were then ready for a fun three hours along the lovely Sandy River learning the two handed fly-fishing technique.

El Burro Loco Lunch El Burro Loco Lunch 2


Jeff Hickman

Jeff Hickman and student

With about 100 other “beginners”, we gathered along the wide riverbank. Deschutes and Clackamas rivers guide Jeff Hickman of Fish the Swing got assigned as our group instructor. We lucked out! With fluid waves of his hand and instructions to toss, point, follow the eagle/tree-line and cast, he bore with our newbieness. After moments of exasperation, he regained composure and patiently continued working with us. Though very relaxed, I am sure he rolled his eyes behind his big sunglasses many times – he certainly had reason to do so! During the lesson time other members of my family joined us and although late, were welcomed to join the lesson. By the end of the lesson (which Jeff graciously allowed to run long) our one non-family-member classmate, Hans from Yakima, had become a friend.

Jeff Hickman

Jeff Hickman and student

Jeff Hickman

Jeff Hickman and student

Jeff Hickman

After returning our equipment, we ate another delicious meal from La Burro Loco and then headed out. While some (like my mom, me and our new friend Hans) only paid the $5 parking fee and headed home at the day’s end, many others reserved grassy spots for camping over night.

El Burro Loco Dinner

Oxbow Regional Park
3010 SE Oxbow Parkway
Gresham, OR 97080

Why do we have parks?

Why do we have parks? City or national? Have you ever pondered this question? A simple question, I know, but unless you have answer, do you really appreciate our parks – both city and national? Without a conscious appreciation, do you take advantage of your access to public parks?

For varying reasons, we separate a piece of land as a park. We then put it under government control and maintenance. Using their free time, people of varying ages then come and visit these places. At some parks, you explore rural and relatively natural settings. At others you might have a picnic and play ball on the baseball field. Strangers tolerate one another as they cross paths at these public places. Sometimes these strangers make friends with one another, interacting in a friendly manner for the duration of their visits.

Apparently the idea of a “public park” has been around since ancient Greece, and public parks have existed in Europe since the 1200’s. The first public park opened here in the U.S in 1634, in the city of Boston, the Boston Common.

Tigard Greenspace park

In President Roosevelt’s 1937 dedication of Timberline Lodge he said, “I take very great pleasure in dedicating this Lodge, not only as a new adjunct of our National Forests, but also as a place to play for generations of Americans in the days to come.” President Roosevelt seemed to imply adding to the National Forests served two purposes: to merely add to the national parks roster and to create another place for people to play.

Now, how do city parks different from national or state parks? Really, how do they? Somewhere along the way I concluded simply that city parks are for kids, and national parks are for adults and kids with adult supervision. For some reason, city parks generally have less prestige and respect than national forests.

City parks exist under city government control, while national parks under federal government control, but both are still under government control. City parks tend toward smaller landmass than national parks, but it is still land of varying terrain. City parks provide for wildlife sustainability, like squirrels and bunnies. Almost in teamwork with city parks, National parks provide refuge for other wild beasts, like bison and beaver.  If you think about it, people spend way more time enjoying and exploring their city park than they will ever a national park. Thus national parks, because of their size, only seem to provide for greater exploration and a destination experience.

What if we treated every park visit with the same enthusiasm, with no undue over-excitement for one and not the other? What if we appreciated each visit to our neighborhood park as we would a national park? What if took more advantage of our neighborhood parks for relaxation, pleasure and mini-vacations? We just might find city parks as satisfactory as national parks for exploration and enjoyment.

Lorraine Ellis Park

Lorraine Ellis Park

Is the Lorraine Ellis Park just yet another Bellingham, WA park?


For my cousin, my sister and me, the Lorraine Ellis Park on the corner of West Illinois Street and Lorraine Ellis Court was simply a drive-by park. One those you often see as you’re driving along, but rarely (if ever!) stop at. I believe my sister and I played there once years ago, but my cousin claimed he never had.

Lorraine Ellis Park - Bellingham Washington

Its adult sized play structure surprised us as we investigated this neighborhood spot. Yes, an adult-friendly play structure! As I crossed the monkey (or perhaps you prefer, the “horizontal”) bars, I realized I had at least an 18-inch clearance between my toes and the deep pea gravel. As I am over 5 and half feet tall, the probable 7-foot height impressed me. The entire structure was tall enough to be challenging and fun for adults to navigate. While the tube for the taller slide was a bit narrow, the height and length of it made for a throwback moment, a moment I expected not to experience again at a random neighborhood park.

Monkey Bars











On a side note, if you have ever faced the challenges of attempting to transfer an indoor routine to the outdoors, you need to try this park. If you want work out outside, this is your go-to park.

Lorraine Ellis Ct. and Illinois St. Bellingham, Washington