Mt Tabor: Volcanic Cinder Cone, City Park & Beautiful Gem

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Mt. Tabor is volcanic cinder cone turned into a beautiful city park in the Southeast neighborhood of Portland, also named Mt. Tabor. Miles of beautiful wooded walking trails, playground, an amphitheater, basketball, tennis and volleyball courts. Picnic areas, scenic vistas and wedding venue. Also home to four open water reservoirs that supply the drinking water for the city.

Mt Tabor is very walkable on many different levels. If you prefer the stability of a paved road, enjoy a winding loop up to the top of the cinder cone. Feeling a little more sure footed and want to embed yourself in the beautiful wooded surroundings, veer off the road on to a plethora of dirt and mulched paths that meander through the trees. If you’re a cyclist you’ll love the challenge of the steady uphill climb, if you’re a longboarder you’ll love the thrilled of careening down the the spiraling road to the bottom.

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Photo Oct 07, 10 18 33 AMThe park is accessible to cars, in case you’d like to take in the views but not work up a sweat. A very cool fact, every Wednesday the park is closed to car traffic. Making Wednesdays a bustling day for bikes, longboarders, joggers, and strollers. In the summer the amphitheater boasts concerts, plays and unique demonstrations. Late summer is also the time of year Mt. Tabor hosts the adult soapbox derby. Teams of eccentric and fun loving adults build elaborate and creative soapbox cars that race down the winding road, hoping to have the fastest time to snag the bragging rights of being King of the Hill and winner of the Adult Soapbox Derby.

Not into building your ride, the Adult Soapbox Derby is a great event to bring the family to and  watch those who have. Bring a blanket, snacks and even some libations, grab an open patch of grass that borders the road for your front row seat at the races.

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Photo Oct 07, 10 07 21 AMMt Tabor truly is a gem in Southeast Portland. Take a walk to the top, challenge yourself to a jog up the seemingly never-ending stairs ( accessible from SE 69th Ave) or drive up and picnic and play with your kids for the afternoon. How ever you make it to the top be sure to pause for a few moments and grab a seat on one of the park benches, take in the city views and the majestic vistas.

For a downloadable pdf of the hiking paths click here.

Mt Tabor SE 60th and Salmon

Mill Ends in Portland is the Smallest Park in the WORLD!

The Smallest Park in the World!

The Smallest Park in the World!

Another Portland landmark, this one falls within the whimsically peculiar category, that should be visited by both locals and visitors alike, is Mill Ends Park.

Acknowledged by The Guinness Book of World Records as the Smallest Park in the World, Mill Ends has a whimsical history and a peculiar location.

On the west side of the river nestled between opposing traffic lanes, flanked by two posts on Natio Parkway at Tayler St., is Mill Ends Park. 899 SW Natio Parkway.

Roughly 2 feet in diameter the smallest park in the world is the quirky and nationally famous park created by a newspaperman, Dick Fagan, back in 1946.
From his office window at the Oregon Journal newspaper Dick had a view of a hole in the street where a lamp post was suppose to be installed. When the lamp post failed to be installed Dick decided to beautify his office window view. He filled the hole in with dirt and planted flowers.

As a journalist and an Irishman with a colorful imagination, Dick began incorporating the park in his column, Mill Ends (rough, irregular pieces of lumber left over at lumber mills). He wrote tales about a village of leprechauns who inhabited the park and announced park events like, snail races! Dick proclaimed the park the “World’s Smallest Park” and it was dedicated on St. Patrick’s Day in 1948. Officially Mill Ends became a city park on St. Patrick’s Day in 1976. And in 1971 Guinness proclaimed Mill Ends Park the world’s smallest park.

Depending on the season and the creativity of the people who visit the park, a plethora of foliage, animals ( horses, unicorns, turtles) and design elements (swimming pools, ferris wheels, fences, benches) and even a UFO sighting was documented at this tiny park. Big people have been seen taking their lives in their hands ( it does sit between two very highly trafficked lanes of traffic) catching some rays, reading a book, celebrating during the wee hours of the morning, and one yelper had this to say about the park “I almost want my boyfriend to propose in this park just to say it happened…”

To this day this park and the area along Natio Parkway continues to host one of the city of Portland’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the Shamrock Run. A plague briefly detailing the history of the park is located on the sidewalk intersection of Tayler St at Natio Parkway.

Nestled between two busy lanes of traffic.

Nestled between two busy lanes of traffic.

Mill Ends park

Foliage changes with the seasons

Mill Ends

Big People enjoying a day at the park!

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The plaque at the corner of Tayler St and Natio Parkway.


When I root, I root for the Timbers!

Portland, Oregon, Soccer City USA

Portland Timbers give Portlanders a team to get fired up about!

Portland has a very passionate and vibrant soccer fan base earning it’s moniker as Soccer City, USA. The Timbers have sold out every MLS league match to date at JELD-WEN Field since their league debut in 2011, currently a string of 42 consecutive sellouts.

Providence Park/ Jeld-Wen Field is an iconic sports and entertainment facility and the beloved home of The Portland Timbers Soccer team. Located in the heart of downtown Portland, easily accessible Portland’s public transit MAX and surrounded by restaurants and bars that enthusiastically welcome ticket and non-ticket holders every game day. Check out the list of Portland Timbers Pub Partners for a selection of restaurants that show both home and aways games.

If you have a chance to attend a Timbers game or just want to be a part of the camaraderie of the enthusiastic fans at a local bar, here are some fun facts about the Timbers that every good Timbers fan should know.    When I root, I root for the Timbers IMG_5092 IMG_5102

The Timbers Army

The “Army” is the fan base of ticket holders that are known for their loud, enthusiastic support and the raucous atmosphere they create at the games. The Timbers Army was founded in 2001. The group began congregating in section 107 (“The Woodshed”) of PGE Park (“The Piggy”) to create a European-style rooting section for the club, complete with drumming, flags, waving scarves, constant chanting and cheering lead by cheer captains, called Capos. The Capos have been voted into position by the Army ticket holders.Green smoke bombs are ignited to celebrate every Portland goal scored. The Army stands and cheers and chants the entire game. By 2012, the Timbers Army numbered more than 4,000 people in the north-end on game day.Timbers Logo Crest:

The crest

The crest is made up a circle representing unity, wholeness and the pursuit of perfection. The Ax represents the logging industry of the Pacific Northwest. The three chevrons are arranged to resemble a pine tree that refers to the Timbers membership in three leagues: the North American, United Soccer and the Major Soccer League.


Timber Jim was the original lumberjack mascot and retired in 2008 . Having served as the unofficial mascot leading up to Jim’s retirement,Timber Joey was inaugurated as the new official mascot during the June 14, 2008 exhibition game. He’s a real-life bearded man that is dressed as. you guessed it— a lumberjack, complete with suspenders, plaid shirt, jeans and rugged boots.

Every time the Timbers score, Timber Joey’s trademark ritual is to fire up his chainsaw in front of the exuberant crowd and cut a “round” from a large log stationed at the base of the Army section. The round is presented to the goal-scoring player after the game. The whirring of the chainsaw, and cutting of the log feeds the already exuberant Timbers fans. Imagine a sea of green, white and yellow scarf-waving, chanting fans with the air shrouded by a low hanging green smoke that lingers from the smoke-bombs and a chainsaw wheeling lumberjack, it’s quite a sight to behold.


Portland’s long standing rivalry, in just about every way imaginable, is Seattle— so why should our soccer rivalry be any different? The Seattle Sounders along with the Vancouver Whitecaps are the Timbers two long-standing rivalries.


There are lots of them!  Click on the link above for lyrics to them all.  Here are just three chants that are sung at every game— and short, so I choose to highlight these!


When I root,

I root for the Timbers…

When I root,

I root for the Timbers..


At the 80th minute

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are gray

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you

So please don’t take my sunshine away



At the 85th minute

Wise men say – Only fools rush in

But I can’t help falling in love with you

Take my hand – Take my whole life too

‘Cause I can’t help falling in love with you


This summer Portland will host The 2014 MLS All-Star game on August 4th, it will be the first time the Pacific Northwest has ever hosted this event. The All-Star game is an annual show-case that will be broadcast to an international audience and will highlight and spotlight the enthusiasm Portlanders have for soccer. The event will feature several days of festivities culminating in a match between The Leagues top players and a renown international soccer club. For schedule and latest news check out the Timbers home page.

When I Root, I Root for the TIMBERS!


The International Rose Test Garden

The City of Roses is in bloom and what a beautiful bouquet it is!

Curving pathways and rose adorned lampposts

Curving pathways and rose adorned lampposts

One of my favorite places to take friends, visitors, my kids or even myself when I need some me time, is The International Rose Test Garden. Located in Washington Park, a short drive below the Zoo and just steps below the tennis courts you’ll walk into a plush sea of colors, sizes, textures and the air smells heavenly!

Not only are the roses a sight to see and smell, you also get an unobstructed view of Mt. Hood framed by this colorful backdrop of roses.

One of Portland’s nicknames is City Of Roses. In 1905 Portland planted 200 miles of roses along the streets to help draw visitors to the Lewis and Clark Centennial celebration, it worked and it also left an impression on people, Portland became known as the City of Roses.

Why is this garden named The International Rose Test Garden…

“In 1915 Jesse A. Currey, rose hobbyist and Sunday editor of the Oregon Journal, convinced city officials to institute a rose test garden to serve as a safe haven during World War I for hybrid roses grown in Europe. Rose lovers feared that these unique plants would be destroyed in the bombings. The Park Bureau approved the idea in 1917 and by early 1918, hybridists from England began to send roses. In 1921 Florence Holmes Gerke, the landscape architect for the city of Portland, was charged with designing the International Rose Test Garden and the amphitheatre. The garden was dedicated in June 1924. Currey was appointed as the garden’s first rose curator and served in that capacity until his death in 1927.”    Portland Parks and Recreation Website 

The Rose Garden covers 4.5 acres, have 10,000 plantings and over 600 varietals of roses. Towards the center of the upper level is a kiosk with a map and an alphabetical list of all the rose names. It’s fun to pick out a few names that strike a chord with you and then go on a search and find mission and see what your roses look and smell like.

Rose Festooned Archways

Rose Festooned Archways

As you meander through the rows of roses you’ll undoubtedly walk under an archway and into the Shakespeare Garden. This garden showcases roses named after characters in Shakespeare’s plays, as well as the herbs, trees, and flowers he references in his plays. A plaque of William Shakespeare with his quote “Of All the flowers methinks a rose is best.” is hung prettily under a rose festooned trellis.

The Shakespeare Garden

The Shakespeare Garden

Also on the grounds is the Miniature Rose Garden, one of only six testing grounds for the American Rose Society and miniature rose test program. An amphitheater, ample restrooms and a lovely little gift shop are also on the grounds. During the summer months the amphitheater hosts a plethora of free concerts, movies, and theatrical events. Check out the listing of events here: Rose Garden Amphitheater Events.

Free guided tours are offered daily at 1pm, meet at the gift shop 10 minutes prior to start, or you can click on this link to find a self-guided tour of the rose garden

The Rose Garden is free of charge, aside from the metered parking in the area, and makes a wonderful place to picnic.

Charming looking loo in the Rose Garden

Charming looking loo in the Rose Garden

The International Rose Test Garden

The International Rose Test Garden



Cafe Nell


nell4Cafe Nell is located on the corner of NW Kearney and 20th. Its location, away from the main arteries of bustling NW 21st. and 23rd Street, makes it all the more charming and intimate. As one of my favorite places in Northwest to catch up with friends and unwind at the end of the day, read on to learn more about this sweet spot-Cafe Nell-and connect the seen with the unseen.


Q. Vanessa, the vibrant and gracious owner of Cafe Nell, can always be seen interacting with her guests morning, noon and night. Cafe Nell is a neighborhood gem many locals consider their second family room. A place where family and friends gather to unwind or to celebrate! Tell us about the Nell it is named after. Cafe Nell


A. Cafe Nell represents: classic, elegant, simple. Nell was my mother’s name. She was an amazing lady. In her entire life, I never heard her utter a negative word about another person. She was an incredible mother…and a great cook. When I was in the first grade, lunch period was 11 am. At 10:45, she would show up at my school room with hot fried chicken (that she had just made), and place it in my lunch box. EVERY DAY! 

It was going to be called just NELL, but I didn’t want people to call it Nell’s (although it happens anyway LOL), so it became Cafe Nell.

Q. I’ve spent my fair share of billable hours at Nell. It never fails, I go in for a drink and a bite to eat and I end up staying all night! What is it about Cafe Nell that makes it so addicting? Cafe Nell Lounge Area


A. It’s the people of course. The interaction of guests and customers. ( In addition to great food & drinks) There’s always someone to visit with! When the restaurant first opened, several people asked “where’s the artwork?”

At Cafe Nell, the people (both patrons and staff) are the ever-changing artwork.

Q.You can always find “characters” at Cafe Nell. I have meet some of the wittiest people while winding down my day at Nell. What’s the connection between Cafe Nell and Paramount Pictures? 


A. It was actually MGM Studios (although both Paramount and Universal also had screening rooms on the same block). The building itself was built in 1947, as a distribution facility for MGM Studio…One tale is that it was a film processing facility. Another is that it was a studio poster distribution center. Don’t you think it would have been more fun if there had been a casting couch somewhere?

Q. Aside from having a “paramount” past, I’ve also heard the building has a bit of a naughty history to it as well. Do tell … 


A. Well, I was perplexed when 3 layers of carpeting and linoleum tile were pulled up during renovation, as to why there were grids of nail holes all over the place, as if the space had been cut up into a dozen little cubicles. Then one evening, a gentleman and his wife were dining in the restaurant, and he shed light on that. He was a retired lawyer, who had represented employees of a brothel (he called it a “massage parlor”), called the Kozy Kitten, that had inhabited the space during the 70’s. I have yet to determine how long it was here. It would have been fun to find an old neon sign somewhere, wouldn’t it?

Q. Last year Cafe Nell clinched the title, Best Bloody Mary in Oregon, as voted by the viewers of Thrillist! Congrats and I think that well-loved drink aptly embodies Cafe Nell’s vibe as: spicy, vibrant, full of surprises and leaves you feeling giddy. What leaves you feeling giddy, aside from the entire cocktail menu! Cafe Nell, Mary Nell

A. Well….it’s always fun to run into people all over town that I’ve met through the restaurant; but my favorite one is, sitting at another bar in town a while back, and a young lady sitting next to me asked “don’t you work at Cafe Nell?”, and the gentleman sitting between us turned to her and replied: “She IS Cafe Nell”. That made me laugh.

Q. Throughout the week Cafe Nell has some great, money saving deals that dominate that day. Let’s tell everyone what they are! 


Monday: I Love Beer: $2 rotating MicroBrews

Tuesday: Bottle Shock Tuesdays: Half Off all Bottled Wines

Wednesday: All Night Happy Hour

Thursday: DATE NIGHT:for two people, 1 shared appetizer, 2 entrees + a bottle of wine $45

Saturday: Bottomless Bubbles $10 6 pm – 10 pm

And we have a few new fun things that we’re going to be rolling out soon. Including Sunday happy hour, and Sunday Suppers.Cafe Nell


Q. Also I’d like to mention that March is Dining Month here in Portland. Restaurants around Portland are offering 3 courses for $29 during the month of March. What’s on the menu for Cafe Nell during dining month? 

A. First course: salad of green beans, mustard vinaigrette, grilled red onion, minced hard boiled egg, crispy shallots

Second course: osso bucco of oxtail, braised mirepoix vegetables with red wine reduction over creamy mashed potatoes

Third course: peanut butter cream cheese mousse studded with chocolate brownie chunks topped with fresh whipped cream and salted peppery crushed peanuts


Tuesday Night Tourney’s hosted by Rose City Pinball


Pinball is lame — said no one ever! Slabtown Pinball

Pinball is the ultimate vice when “I’ve got some change in my pocket going jingle ling a ling.” So I was super pumped when I learned about the Tuesday Night Tourney’s hosted by the Rose City Pinball organization. The lights, the sounds, the anticipation of what’s next, the bonuses— all make pinball a very alluring game. My introduction to the Tuesday Night Pinball Tournament was such a blast, I had to find out more. The Directors of Rose City Pinball Aaron,Dennis and Isaac had this to share with me.

1) What is Rose City Pinball all about and why was it created?


Rose City Pinball was created to promote pinball in Portland and throughout the Northwest. Whether it be hosting tournaments, organizing events or fundraisers, fixing machines, or
helping educate on all aspects of pinball. Rose City Pinball was started in 2011 but has more or less been around since 2008 and the real roots stem from all the work Crazy Flipper Fingers started doing 10 years ago. [Read more…]

Virginia Cafe, Nearly 100 Years of History in Portland


Recently when my plans were derailed at the last minute, leaving me too annoyed to turn around and head back home so quickly, I walked into the first watering hole that intersected with my agitated footsteps. I walked into the Virginia Cafe on SW 10th Ave.  It was dark, the music was loud, and the joint seemed unexpectedly packed for this late hour on a Monday night. I ordered a Pendleton on the rocks and after those first few sips  which took my irritated edge off, I began to look around at this dark bar that was now my new haven.  It wasn’t fancy, the vibe was more like a well-worn and much loved sweater, the kind with a few small holes here and there, the style might not be to the liking of most but to you, slipping on that sweater makes you feel good, comfortable or just simply warm. That was the vibe that hung in the dimly lit, casually comfortable and surprisingly crowded atmosphere of The Virginia Cafe. I left The Virginia Cafe with a pleased, instead of  perturbed, frame of mind and felt like I stumbled upon a new version of that lived-in, feel-good sweater I could put on when I need a little comforting. My Monday night at The Virginia Cafe left me with such a good memory I looked them up on the web, for no other reason than I wanted to learn more good things, and that I did. Below is an account of the Virginia Cafe’s rich, colorful and long history here in Portland.  Maybe I’ll see you there some Monday night, cheers!

The history of the Virginia Cafe can be traced back as far as 1906, the year that Theodore, William and Christopher Dussin emigrated from Argos, Greece to Portland. In 1914, after heavy mountain snows caused them to be laid off their jobs laying railroad ties, the brothers entered the restaurant business and opened the first Virginia Cafe at the corner of S.W. 10th and Stark. In the heart of the city’s once notorious “tenderloin,” the brothers offered “Quick Service and Best Coffee” to a clientele heavily studded with characters that frequented the area. Many of the hotels in that area were sporting houses, and on an average day 50 trays were carried by two “runners” from the “Virginia to the girls’ rooms – gals who ate well and tipped lavishly.” [Read more…]

Glowing Public Art

Nephenthes during the day

   As you walk along NW Davis Street  in Portland, Oregon towards Chinatown, your eyes can’t help but be drawn to these 17-foot tall, curvy and colorful sculptures that illuminate the street. “Nephenthes” created by Seattle based artist Dan Corson are the newest permanent additions to Portland’s public art collection. Read more below about these beauties from the artist himself as published in DesignBoom

Seattle-based artist Dan Corson has just finished installing a permanent series of four 17-foot tall photo-voltaic sculptures along NW Davis street in Portland Oregon, titled ‘nepenthes’. These glowing sculptural elements are inspired by the carnivorous plants called nepenthes, which are named after the magical greek potion that eliminates sorrow and suffering. By referencing the patterns of Oregon native vegetation and other carnivorous plants and inserting a quirky expression of nature into an urban environment, these sculptures celebrate historic Chinatown’s unique and diverse community. The structures are created out of robust layers of translucent fiberglass with embedded with LED lights wrapping around a steel spine. a custom created solar panel on top energizes the batteries, and also allows circular shadows to back-light the tops of the sculptures in the daytime. Each sculpture is physically identical, yet they all have a unique translucent color and patterning that gives each piece its own distinctive personality. From an urban planning perspective, the project was designed to increase pedestrian connectivity between two important neighborhoods. The project was funded by trimet and managed by the regional arts & culture council and is now a part of the city of Portland’s public art collection.

Nephenthes at night

Each fiberglass sculpture glows at night creating a dramatic street presence with an artistic flare.




Tulip Fest

Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest in Woodburn, OR

This event is one of those welcomed and anticipated annual events because it’s so beautiful and also signals that Spring has come to Portland. Located 45 minutes from Portland, 40 acres of vibrant tulips sprawl out as far as you can see and it’s a sight to be had! It’s absolutely gorgeous!

The fest is $10 a carload. Kids activities are on site, some require paid tickets like the bounce house and the tractor pulled cow-train, while others are good ol’fashioned farm farm like a hand water-pump rubber ducky race, hay mazes, slides and horse tire swings. Food can be purchased but the selection is not befitting of a large fair, it’s hot dogs and carmel corn. U-cut and pre-cut tulips can be purchased as well as a plethora of tulip bulbs, in case you fancy creating your own tulip field.

The best part of this festival is the unlimited beautiful photo opts, including a giant set of wooden shoes!

Be sure to mark your calendar because this festival happens every Spring from late March till early May.  Details can be found on the website Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm


Moonlight Snowshoeing at Trillium Lake

I’d been snowshoeing one other time in my life and it was a fun afternoon with a group of chatty women;

Rare Earth Adventures guided tours

and the sun was shinning high in the sky reflecting off the snow making sunglasses a necessity not just a fashion statement. Snowshoeing was a workout but it wasn’t as demanding as a spin class or boot camp, it was fun fitness.  This year I had read about moonlight snowshoeing and that sounded like a creative spin on this already very likable snow sport.

I rounded up 3 other warm bodies, umm I mean friends, scanned the calendar for the next full moon and scheduled our moonlight snowshoeing adventure with Rare Earth Adventures. The price included round trip transportation, snow park permits, guide, gear, snacks and beverages.

Our snowshoeing trek took us to Trillium Lake on Mt Hood. A great place to sled ride or snowshoe by day with the only light being shed at night coming from the moon and stars. The park is not wired for lights, except for the parking lot, so unless you’re very familiar with this terrain I wouldn’t suggest a night hike or sled riding for that matter!

We geared up in our snowshoes, grabbed our poles, hand warmers, head lamps and backpacks that carried water and any other little extras we thought we might need; and set off under the fleeting light of the full moon. The main trails are so packed down that snowshoes really aren’t necessary.  As you descend down the main path into the interior of the park veer off the snow of the packed paths and put those snowshoes to good use. Snowshoes are to designed to disperse you’re weight evenly over a larger surface so when you step down into the cold soft snow your foot, and therefor you, don’t sink waste deep. One safety precaution we learned was to be watchful of the tree wells, where the snow has warmed up and receded or sunk around the base of trees, this snowy area is the least predictable as far as stability because of it’s tendency to warm and soften. [Read more…]