Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Treatment

This is one of those go figure stories.  It's another version of you can take someone out of their environment, but not take their environment out of them.
We decided to take a little walk; or rather a little hike.  My wife and her two sisters had just returned from Central Oregon where they checked off a bucket list item by spending a few days in the delightful little town of Sisters.  Sisters, Oregon is in Deschutes county and a short drive from either the astonishingly beautiful Metolius River, or the Tam MacArhur Rim, and Three Creeks Lake, a beautiful little alpine lake set into a glacial bowl and gateway to all manner of hiking trails in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.  But my wife and her sisters didn't do any hiking there, instead, they shopped.  The town of Sisters is home to many wonderful shops that feature everything from quilting to clothing to any and all imports you might find in a big city boutique.
After two days back in Portland running around in more retail outlets, the urge to hike returned and I set out with the three sisters to attempt a local trail/bike path that supposedly led to a small set of lakes used as a bird sanctuary.

It sounded promising and even featured a few well posted signs detailing the distance and time.  At first the little venture was surprisingly nice as we traversed the narrow path that ran behind homes and in between some grassy knolls and overhanging trees.  This adventure takes place in North Portland, not the stereotypical Portlandia, but the working class section.  Thus, it was no surprise that we passed some homeless encampments, and even imagined ourselves living under the overhanging limbs.  It's fascinating to me how just walking by can trigger thoughts of just where wold be the best cover and perhaps the softest ground.  On some level, I think we all can identify with the homeless and wonder just how far our survival instincts and skills would take us. Occasionally we'd comment on which spot seemed most desirable.  Identification or empathy?  Or something else? After about a mile and a half the signs directed us to surface streets before we rejoined some sort of paved bike/hiking path.  The scenery was unremarkable at best, depressing at worst.  Pockets of trash lined the roadway. Ultimately we ended up walking by the local sewage treatment plant.  We persevered...mile 4, mile ...5 .and mile 6.  The only high point was a brief section that bordered the Columbia Slough, a murky backwater that ultimately joins the mighty Columbia River, but at this point looked more like the perfect place to hide a body. A nice fit for the opening scenes of the latest episode of Forensic Files. There was a resident heron and another resident cormorant, but even they looked out of place.  In the end, we dead ended on a muddy trail in an industrial section just beyond the sewage treatment plant. The view was barren and bleak.  We turned around.  Our feet were screaming.  Calluses, blisters and cramps all led the chorus.
By the time we got back home and the laughter subsided, the thought hit.  This little trek through the bowels of North Portland will be the strongest memory of the 3 sisters get together.  Lacking in the spectacular beauty of Central Oregon it's worth was measured in laughter. Go figure.

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