Rich Abstracts

The Camas Gallery at Bush Barn Art Center is featuring the work of local artist Nancy Eng through the month of June.  Eng’s new work, done in oil and cold wax, is a collection of sensitive figurative images and rich abstract landscapes.

Nancy, a painter throughout her life, has been working in oil and cold wax for two years after taking a class from Allen Cox at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology.  For her, Eng explains that art is “…a means of self-expression – always evolving and taking me in a new direction.”  Eng often experiments with different mediums, describing her current passion as “abstract figurative work and colorful abstracted layered landscapes” – an example of what you will see in her new show at Bush Barn.  Eng’s exhibit runs through June 30th.

SAA’s Galleries Program in the Bush Barn Art Center operates three galleries and a gift gallery exhibiting fine art and crafts by artists in the Pacific Northwest and beyond who enrich our community and foster a deeper understanding of the value of visual art.

AZTECA BAKERY -Taco Town

When you walk into Azteca Bakery and study the menu on two big boards above the counter you may be a little mystified. What are these dishes … molotes, garnachas, memelitas, tlayudas, blandas? Just ask the friendly person at the counter. On the day we were there recently, it was Carmen. And she proudly told us that these dishes were from the State of Oaxaca. Get ready for a food adventure.

Azteca is a combination bakery and restaurant that may have the most interesting menu of any of the places we have reviewed.

The selection is huge. We counted 46 choices on the menu. Azteca does not call themselves a taqueria, maybe because they offer so much more. Of course they have tacos ($1.75). They use handmade medium-sized tortillas and offer eight choices of meat, including some unusual ones like tinga (shredded chicken in a chili sauce) and pierna (pork leg). Tortas (Mexican sandwiches) made with telera rolls baked right here are a specialty.

With eleven different varieties on the menu ($5 and $7), it’s probably the largest selection in town.

On a recent visit we were excited to see tamales en hoja de plantano — not on the regular menu, but on a paper sign behind the counter. These are Oaxacan style tamales wrapped in a banana leaf instead of the usual corn husk. They had tamales en hoja de maiz (corn husk) too, but we had to try the tamales in banana leaves. There were three different kinds, two with chicken and one with green chili strips and cheese ($1.50 each or $15 for a dozen). Delicioso!

We also sampled two other Oaxacan specialties: garnachas de mole ($7.50) and molotes ($7.00). The latter is a Oaxacan street food. A combination of mashed potato and chorizo sausage is wrapped in a masa dough and fried crisp like a fritter, then topped with a black bean sauce, Mexican cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato. These are yummy, but very filling. We recommend splitting a plate. Garnachas de mole are like a chicken mole tostada. The quality of the Oaxacan mole made from scratch is really apparent.

On the bakery side of the business there is a good variety of pan dulces (sweet breads) and well made teleras and bolillos (Mexican hard rolls) to take home, as well as specialty cakes, including tres leches cakes ($30).

Unfortunately the owner, Luis, was not there when we dropped in, but Carmen, our server, and Floriselva, who was running the kitchen, were very welcoming and helpful in telling us about their food. The dining area has been remodeled with a large mural and more seating, and the hours have been extended to open at 6 a.m.  There are a number of interesting breakfast dishes on the menu for early risers like us. We’ll have to come back to try those.

Our compliments to Luis and his fine staff for bringing their large selection of Oaxacan food to Salem. We recommend you go there for an authentic taste of Oaxaca.

 

AZTECA BAKERY
2831 Lancaster Dr. NE
Salem, Oregon 97305
503-363-4222
Monday – Sunday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“WE DON’T GROW CHILDREN LIKE THIS” -Play poses questions at Pentacle

In October 1998, Matthew Shepard, a gay college student was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming. The attack was particularly brutal. This event was the genesis of a play by Moises Kauffman called The Laramie Project, which is now playing at the Pentacle Theatre in Salem.  This production of The Laramie Project is a strong piece of theatre that deserves admiration.

Shortly after the murder, the Tectonic Theatre Project from New York City travelled en masse to Laramie and interviewed about two hundred residents about the event. These interviews were distilled into representations of about sixty people, portrayed by thirteen actors, who speak their interview responses directly to the audience. What emerges is not really portraits of individuals, but a portrait of a place where such a crime could occur, and how the community responds. As the sheriff of the small town (population 30,000) says, “Now it’s a town defined by a crime.”

Represented are all sorts of Laramie citizens, including students, housewives, law enforcement, and religious leaders. One is a local Mormon who asserts “There is no sexual deviance in the Mormon Church.” Another is an emergency room doctor who expresses his shock at the brutality of the attack.

The staging of the play by director Rachel Duncan is nothing short of brilliant. The dozens of characters flow up and downstage with their furniture and other props, and co-operate with extensive use of a background video screen, with the smoothness of a ballet, and without ever distracting from the interviewees’ words.

Another strength is the authenticity of the acting and the emotions on display. The dialogue, even including moments of humor, interweaves the facts of the crime as well as its repercussions throughout the community. The text also shows a love of language as it is spoken – an awareness of the poetry of normal conversation.

On the whole the characterizations are solid, though not all the actors were up to the considerable challenge of convincingly inhabiting the numerous characters they are given to portray. Especially impressive are the various roles played by Richard Leppig, a Pentacle newcomer, and Jenni Bertels, a Pentacle veteran.

An unnecessary distraction is the use of women to portray some of the male characters. With six male actors in the ensemble, one questions the need for this decision.

One question that the play seems to ask is “How could this happen here?” In fact, one of the most memorable pieces of dialog is presented by a young Muslim woman who is baffled by the response of the community. She says “People say this kind of thing doesn’t happen here. But it did happen here.”

All Laramie citizens are represented very respectfully, with the possible exception of the actual two murderers. This is both a strength and a weakness of the play. While we want to understand the viewpoints of the various citizens of Laramie, we are left wondering how the environment was created in which such a crime could happen. If this play is about anything, it can’t be that there were just two isolated murderers who happened to live in Laramie. As one resident says, “we don’t grow children like this.” We are left wondering where this hatred came from, if not Laramie.

Though the idea of actors representing interviewees with their actual dialogue may seem like a static and sterile exercise, somehow the diverse talents who present this “Project” make it a dynamic and satisfying piece of theatre. The Laramie Project plays at the Pentacle through October 27.

Rainforest Mushroom Company

As I’m sitting here writing this, the smell of mushrooms cooked in butter and garlic wafts through my house. I’m preparing a wonderful dinner with pasta and maitake mushrooms from Rainforest Mushroom Company of Eddyville, Oregon.

The hour and a half trip to the coastal valley was a little outside of my zone, but since Rainforest Mushrooms sells at the Salem Saturday Market, I figured I could stretch the 50-mile radius commonly thought of as “local.”

I’d never seen mushrooms grown before. I didn’t really know what to expect – a cave? A dank brick basement? Certainly not the ramshackle wooden barn to which I pulled up early one weekday morning. The barn looked to have been built early in the last century and in the corners and under the eaves is tucked an amazing collection of interesting objects – bicycle parts, machine parts, stacks of wood. Out of the barn’s dimness appeared Bob Rudel, owner of Rainforest Mushroom Company. Bob, who has studied physics and industrial technology, has always been interested in mushrooms. He told me how he was raised on a farm in North Dakota, and started his operation with $30 that he kept in a white sock. He showed me a contraption he built himself, out of two huge industrial wire spools and spare parts, in which he mixes the medium in which the mushrooms grow. It turns out that mushrooms are not, as the old joke goes, kept in the dark and fed shit, but grown in dim light, sterile conditions, and a mixture of sawdust and grain.

He showed me the grow houses. They reminded me of yurts – white plastic stretched over rebar frame and thick with insulation: a stable temperature is important. Inside, the moist warm air had a woodsy smell. Tall shelves held plastic bags full of the sawdust mixture, and out of the tops of the bags bloomed the mushrooms like exotic flowers – maitake, shiitake, oyster, buttercap, lion’s mane. Bob explained that the organism itself is the part that is underground; that what we think of as “mushrooms” are the really the fungus’s reproductive organs. “You can visualize that any way you want,” he grins.

In another part of the barn is the clean room, complete with HEPA filters. “This room is as sterile as a microchip plant,” Bob told me. He explained how important it is to keep any stray spores from infecting the growth medium. Bob grows his mushrooms from clones, rather than spores, to keep the strains true and the quality high: “when you clone, you can be sure of what you are going to get.” Rainforest mushrooms are watered with spring water and certified organic by Oregon Tilth. Bob told me that he grows organic, because he feels that once you start using artificial inputs and chemicals to control pests and disease you enter into an increasing cycle of need and expense; that growing organically is not only good for the environment, but makes economic sense as well. Bob and his wife, Debbie, sell their mushrooms at farmer’s markets in Salem, Eugene, Newport, Beaverton and Corvallis: “I like to see the people who eat my food.”

He leads me to another part of the barn where maitake mushrooms are piled in boxes and baskets. Bob told me that miatakes are said to boost the immune system and increase T-cell count; many of his customers are interested in preventing or fighting cancer. He handed me two of them, gothic chrysanthemums the size of softballs. “These are for you.”

On the stove, the miatakes are fragrant and earthy, soaking up butter and garlic. I pour a glass of red wine and sit down to eat pasta al funghi, I can’t testify to the medicinal qualities of these mushrooms, but I can say they are utterly delicious.

Henline Mountain Trail -Hiking

The trail immediately begins with steady and steep switchbacks through the forest. We have been here before so we know to take our time and pace ourselves for the 2.8-mile vertical assent. Luckily, the temperatures are mild and there’s a nice breeze.

After about a half mile, the trail crosses over a massive rock field from an old slide. Someone has taken the time to move large rocks into positions to form perfect little seats so we stop and enjoy the view of the Santiam valley to the south. We continue on, and after a few more switchbacks we come to a large outcropping where we can climb out and overlook the rock field that we just traversed.

A little further up the trail there is a second large rock outcropping with even better views of the valley and the Little North Santiam River below. We continue climbing through the dry but shady forest. The trail is lined with Oregon grape, salal, and various ferns and as we climb higher, Pacific rhododendrons and bear grass appear as well as lupine.

We come upon another very large rock field, which the trail skirts, and then crosses over. The rocks can be loose, so we step carefully. There are some very cool stone cairns marking the trail, someone has obviously gone to a lot of work building them.

The trail climbs still steeper and finally pops out atop a very rocky ridge. Mt Jefferson looms to the east along with Battle Ax and the Cascade Range. On a clear day it is said you can see Mary’s Peak to the west 65 miles away, but today it is hazy.

This is where we reward ourselves with lunch and a nice long break. The actual summit of Henline Mountain is to the Northwest. To reach it, go back down the trail 20 yards and there is a fork to the right where a rougher trail leads atop a ridge for another 1.1 miles. We chose not to attempt it and save it for another day.

 

How to get there:
From Salem, travel east on HWY 22 for approximately 23 miles passing through the town of Mehama and turn left at the blinking light onto North Fork Rd. Drive for about 20 more miles, veering left at the fork onto Rd 2209. The trailhead and message board will be on your left and the parking is on your right, along side the road. (This is a well-traveled road, for it also takes you to Opal Creek.)

Distance and Elevation Gain:
I consider this a difficult hike; it’s 5.6 miles round trip and 2,200 feet in elevation gain. The rocky peak, our destination, is the site of an old fire lookout, at 4,100 feet.

Fees and Permits:
A wilderness pass is required and you can fill out the paperwork at the trailhead. Parking is free.  There are no bathrooms. This is a steep hike but we did see both dogs and children. We spoke to the dog owners who said they wish they had packed more water for their four legged friends.

Triangulation Peak

This is an easy half-day hike and well worth it, for the views are spectacular. The trailhead starts at over 4,000 feet in elevation so be prepared for snow even as late as July. We attempted to climb this peak in late June of this year and even though there was little snow on the roadside, the trail was still covered with it. After 30 minutes of walking on top of snow and uncertain if we were following the trail, we decided to turn around and go back to the car. For your own safety, please remember to fill out the Wilderness Permits.

The trail begins just to the left of the signboard and meanders through second growth Douglas fir and western hemlock. The under-story is thick with bear grass, huckleberry, lupine, vanilla leaf, columbine, wild strawberry…. Should I go on? OK, I will. Bunchberry, miterwort, Queens cup, native rhododendrons, Solomon seal, ferns, penstemon, lilies, pyrola and an entire hillside thick with devils club. Thanks to the wet weather this year and the late snow, the wildflower display is still beautiful. The trail is a shady, gradual climb and there are some good views of Mt Hood to the north.

After 1.5 miles we come to Spire rock, an extremely large basalt outcropping. Here the trail takes a sharp right turn and we begin ascending our first switch back. At this point, there is just a half-mile remaining of the hike and 500 feet in elevation to climb. We reach the ridge and our first view of Mt Jefferson. The trail forks and we head to the right towards the rocky outcropping for panoramic views of the Cascade peaks. There used to be a fire lookout here but it is long gone and we find little evidence of it. This is a great spot to take a break and have a bit to eat.

After enjoying the views and trying to identify the other peaks in the Cascade Range, we head back to the fork. Instead of turning left and returning to our car, we veer to the east towards MT Jefferson. We are in search of the “hidden” Boca Cave. We walk along a flat saddle/ridge following the trail as it heads to the east, through the trees and begins a gradual descent. It soon becomes a steep downward scramble and we are careful with each step. There are some loose rocks but luckily the trail is short as it curves to the left.

We are soon rewarded with the opening of the cavern. The cave is 100 feet deep with moisture seeping from the back wall. Its floor is red lava crushed to tiny pieces and we rest here again to admire the view of Mt Jefferson, only 7 miles away. This is really the view we enjoy the most, for the cave opening frames the mountain as if it were a framed photograph. There is evidence of others who have camped here, old fire pits and burnt wood.

Maybe next time, we will pack in our gear.

 
How to get there:
Head east on HWY 22 for 56 miles, passing Detroit Lake and the very small town of Idanha. Just after milepost 56, turn left turn onto McCoy Creek Rd 2233. This is a paved road for about 5 miles and then it turns to gravel, for another 5.5 miles. It is a well-graded logging road but watch out for the potholes, especially the ones in the shadows. There are a few junctions but keep straight until you come to a sharp right turn after 9 miles and a wooden shelter. Follow the curve to the right and continue the remaining 1.5 where you will see the parking area and the trailhead.

Distance and elevation gain:
It’s an easy 4.2 miles round trip and only 700 feet in elevation gain. It’s a gradual trail that is dog friendly, and we saw quite a few the day we visited. Remember to bring water for your pets, for they get thirsty too.

Fees and Permits:
There are no parking fees or permits but you are required to fill out a self-issue Wilderness Permit, which you obtain at the trailhead. Camping is permitted and there are also no fees. There are also no public bathrooms, so plan accordingly.

Shrewsbury renaissance faire fast approaching

Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire is coming for its 15th year to Kings Valley, Oregon. On September 8th and 9th the popular festival will provide activities for all ages in an atmosphere, the site says, “modeled on the merriest of elements from the times of Shakespeare and Elizabeth I.”

Over the years the Faire has won numerous prizes and has grown to number over 1,000 participants. It offers handmade goods and food vendors, jousting of Bold Knights and Noble Steeds, continuous entertainment on stage and in the streets.

Organizers call the Faire “an educational Elizabethan Living History creation.” Directions and more information available at www.shrewfaire.com.

Salmon River Estuary: Kayaking

In 1974, Congress established the Cascade Head Scenic Research Area with the mission of maintaining and restoring native habitat, enhancing the scenic qualities of the area and educating us on the sensitive relationship between humans and our environment. It’s located just four miles north of Lincoln City and is home to more than 350 species of wildlife, four of which are considered endangered.

The Salmon River Estuary makes up a small part of this 9,670-acre sanctuary. Restoration of the estuary has been ongoing since the 1970’s with the removal of artificial dikes and other infrastructure, filling ditches, realigning streams and reestablishing tidal flow, and planting native species. Much of the destruction of the native habitat occurred in the late 1960’s due to the Pixieland Amusement Park and the Tamara Quay Trailer Park, both of which are gone now.

More than half the estuary is now native tidal marsh providing a critical juncture between fresh and salt water, supporting numerous forms of life and aiding in the spawning migration of fish. Estuaries are important “nurseries” for young salmon.

Salmon River Estuary is a hidden gem on the Oregon Coast and I have brought my kayak here many times, launching it at the Knights County Park boat dock. There are two choices when you arrive: to head upstream through the estuary or head downstream to the mouth of the Salmon River where it converges with the Pacific Ocean. Either way, it is a relaxing day to float and enjoy the scenery.

If you head upstream you’re bound to see an abundance of waterfowl, including Great Blue Herons. The current is not strong and it’s a peaceful glide in and around the grassy marsh, just be careful not to get beached on a mudflat, for the depth of the water can be deceiving.  It is considered a popular spot for fishing during salmon runs, though I rarely see many boats there.

If you head downstream, you’ll come to the Salmon River spit, which is a long beach that can be reached only by boat, thus it is quiet and empty most of the time. It is one of my favorite beaches, for there are lots of rocks and shells and sometimes starfish, which I tend to throw back in the sea, hoping they will survive. (Some say you should just let nature takes it course, but I believe a little help never hurts). You can also camp on the beach and make a weekend out of it. The rugged rocky cliffs to the north and Cascade Head make for an incredible view. And since it is only a little over an hours drive from Salem, it’s easy to come on a weekday after work.

If you don’t own a kayak you can rent one in Lincoln City for $35 for the day and that comes with a life vest. I would recommend calling ahead to reserve one. Make sure to check weather conditions and pack extra clothes in case of damp conditions. Waterproof layers is also a good idea!

 

How to get there:
From Salem, head west on HWY 22 towards the coast. After approximately 30 miles, HWY 22 merges with HWY 18 and continues west another 23 miles till you see signs for US 101 N. Take this exit heading north towards Tillamook/Astoria and in 2 miles take a sharp left onto Three Rocks Road. Stay on this road for another 1.5 miles till you reach Knights County Park and the boat ramp. It takes about one hour and 15 minutes.

Fees and Permits:
There are no fees to park here and there are public restrooms in the parking lot. Dogs are allowed here, but note, they are not allowed on the Nature Conservancy trail should you decide to hike up to Cascade Head.

Distance and Elevation Gain:
Of course, the kayak trip has zero elevation gain, but if you are interested in hiking you can access the Cascade Head Nature Conservancy Trail from this parking area. It’s 3.5 miles and climbs 1,100 feet for breath taking views of the Pacific Ocean. I will save the Cascade Head hike for another story.

Clear Lake Adventure Boating, Hiking & Camping

Clear Lake is nestled among majestic evergreens and towering volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range west of Sisters. (There are actually 11 lakes in Oregon with the name of “Clear Lake”, but this is the only one I have been to.) It is the source of the wild and scenic McKenzie River, which in turn, supplies the drinking water to the city of Eugene. The lake was formed 3,000 years ago, when a volcanic peak erupted and the resulting lava flow damned up the river, thus creating the lake.

Under this crystal clear water there still remains the trunks of ancient trees that once stood along the river. They are preserved by the icy cold water, which year round, is just above freezing.

The source of the lake is from snow melt and springs that travel through miles of volcanic rock and emerge from the ground at the northeast side of the lake. The lake is popular for fishing and is home to native cutthroat trout and stocked with rainbow and brook trout. No motorboats are allowed. It is also noted to be one of the best places to scuba dive in North America.

On this particular trip we decided to camp at Coldwater Cove Campground located on the southeast shore. It is the only campground on the lake and has about 50 sites, some of which you can reserve ahead through the website www.recreation.gov.  The weekend we chose was a bit overcast and must have scared people away as there were many empty sites to choose from. After setting up our campsite, we took our canoe down to the boat dock at the campground. (If you don’t have your own boat, you can rent a rowboat at the Clear Lake Resort for $30 for the day).  We paddled around the lake for a few hours, leaning over the boats edge to peer into the water below and view the petrified trees.

Duck families were abundant, swimming around the lakes edge. I think they are the only ones who can tolerate the cold water! We skirted nearly the entire lake in about 3 hours, enjoying the peace and quiet.

We have hiked the trail that circles the lake on a previous trip but it is definitely worth mentioning. It is only 5 ½ miles long and mostly flat. We started at the Clear Lake Resort (directions to the resort are mentioned below) and walked north along the lakeside trail crossing the Ikenick Creek. In less than 2 miles we came to the massive springs that feed the lake, water gushed from the ground.

Continuing on the east side of the lake the trail leads over ancient lava flows and through old growth forests. I recommend sturdy hiking boots as the lava rocks can be ankle twisting. A lot of the trail on east side has very little shade, so I also want to recommend a hat. The trail passes through the campground and skirts around the south end of the lake to a bridge where the lake funnels down to become the headwaters of the McKenzie River. The trail continues on the west side of the lake through the forest and continues onto a day use picnic area before returning.

Clear Lake Resort also has rustic cabins to rent, a restaurant and lodge. If you want to dock your own boat here, it will cost you $5.  I recommend docking your own boat at the campground, for free.  www.co.linn.or.us/parks/parks/clearlake.html.

How to Get There:
Drive east on HWY 22 towards Bend for approximately 80 miles. You’ll pass Detroit Lake, the small town of Idanha and when you reach Santiam Junction, turn right onto HWY 20 (25 miles before to the town of Sisters).  Drive roughly 3.5 miles and turn left onto HWY 126 heading south towards Eugene. Drive another 3 miles and turn left at the sign for Clear Lake Resort. If you prefer to camp, drive another .5 mile to the campground entrance, also on your left.

Distance and Elevation Gain:
The hike around Clear Lake is 5.5 miles, mostly level, and some sections are paved over lava flows. It’s a very gentle hike and is also very popular with mountain bikers.

Fees and Permits
There are no permits required to park here, and it is dog friendly. There are bathrooms located at the resort and at the campground on the opposite side of the lake.

Camping at Coldwater Cove Campground costs $18 per night. You can purchase a bundle of firewood for $5 but bring your own kindling and newspaper to get it started.

Urban Hike – 4-T Trail

This is a great loop hike and has all the parts; a hike through the trees in the beautiful Forest Park, a ride down the aerial Tram from OHSU with scenic views of the Willamette River and MT Hood, a ride on Portland’s Trolley to the heart of downtown and then a train ride back to your car. Of course, you can stop at any of the junction points for lunch or for shopping downtown, say at Powell’s Books. I prefer to start the trip at the Oregon Zoo/Forest Park area so that I can park my car for free. As you hike, pay attention to the brown trail signs and you should have no trouble finding your way.

We begin our adventure by parking near the Oregon Zoo and stop to use their public bathrooms before heading off. Walking south past the zoo, and following signs for the 4-T Trail, we cross over highway 26 on the east side of the elevated roadway and turn left to go down to the Marquam Trailhead, which is on the south shoulder of Highway 26. Immediately, we are plunged into a dense forest of maples and ferns, yellow wood violets and giant trilliums, Soloman’s seal and inside-out flower, all flowering and at their peak. The trail is muddy in parts, thanks to the rain and there are a few creeks with footbridges and wooden staircases to make the hiking easier as we ascend towards Council Crest.

After 1.2 miles, the trail pops out onto Patton Road and we turn right and walk along the shoulder for a bit. We come to the intersection of Patton, Humphrey and Talbot and turn left onto Talbot, following the brown trail signs. The road leads past beautiful historic homes and up to the entrance of Council Crest Park.

The trail through Council Crest Park follows the route of an old electric streetcar line that was built in 1906 and took passengers to an amusement park at the crest. The park was very popular for its Ferris wheel, carousel, and dance pavilion and, the views of Portland. It was closed in 1929, partially due to the depression, and the streetcar line was discontinued in 1949 when paved roads and cars became more popular. The trail leads to a grassy area with views of the Tualatin Valley on the right and downtown Portland on the left. There is an interpretive signpost on the east side of the crest and a drinking fountain. From here, the “Marquam trail leads downhill to OHSU.

We continue on, following the Marquam Trail/ 4T Trail/Marquam Shelter” signs, on a lush path flanked with flowering rhododendrons and maple trees. There are a few benches to rest upon should you need to, and one that is completely covered with moss!

The trail crosses over a few roads and continues on the other side as it descends into Marquam Gulch, a deep, wooded ravine.

We arrive at Marquam Shelter, which has a great interpretative display of the history of this area. Behind us, the trail continues uphill towards OHSU. After a short rest, we follow the signs and turn left onto Conner Trail and in half mile we pop out at the top, ending the hiking segment of this trip.

The trail ends at the back of the hospital so we weave our way through the buildings, pass a very large water fountain and Mackenzie Hall, the original medical school building from 1887. We continue heading east past Baird Hall and down to the OHSU Hospital and have lunch in the Marquam Café. The food is outstanding with a salad bar, fresh soups, hot entrees cooked to order and even grill service. After lunch, we take the aerial tram down to the South Waterfront District where the trolley is located. We climb aboard the trolley and insert our $2 into the machine and get a 2-hour pass that allows us to ride the trolley and transfer to the train.

The trolley ride is a lot of fun and stops at many locations, including the Oregon State University campus. We get off at the 10th and Taylor stop and walk north 2 blocks to Morrison where we board the train heading west to the zoo.  The train ride is fast and we end up below the zoo parking lot, 260 feet below ground. This is the deepest underground train station in North America. An elevator ride takes us to the top and we are back where we started.

How To Get There:
Head north on I-5 towards Portland for approximately 36 miles. Take exit #292A, also known as OR-217, towards Tigard/Beavertown. Travel 7.5 miles and merge east onto HWY 26. Take exit #72 towards the Zoo/Forestry Center. Turn left, cross over the highway and follow signs for the Oregon Zoo. (Technically, you shouldn’t park in the parking lot reserved for the Oregon Zoo and other local businesses, but there are nearby lots for Forest Park and you can park there.). The trip is about a hour’s drive from Salem and a little less than 50 miles.

Distance and Elevation Gain:
This is roughly a 9-mile loop with the hiking section about 4.5 miles and an elevation gain of only 600 feet. It’s a moderate hike in difficultly and takes about 4 hours, which includes the trail, tram, trolley and train ride, and a stop for lunch.

Fees and Permits:
There are no parking fees. The aerial tram is the second leg of this journey and it’s free going downhill. The third leg is the trolley and it will cost approximately $2 to get a pass that will allow you to transfer to the train, which is the last leg of your journey. Passes can be purchased for the trolley and the train when you board the trolley. (Note, if you choose to do this trip in reverse, the tram costs $4 and the fee is collected when you board at the bottom.)