Clown Time

On the weekend we were invited to join Portland’s clowns Olive and Dingo in the Division Street Parade. We arrived on time, were all set, then one of the bands started up right beside us in the staging area, setting Trista into a scared crying fit. There was nothing to do but back out and comfort her while the parade took off. Trista eventually did calm down and fell asleep, so we were able to rejoin the fun further down the street.

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A few days later, we hung out at a coffee shop just down the street from our house for Story Time where the clowns do their act every week. Don’t worry, they have a NEW act each time. This particular day they had a camera crew filming them. If the footage gets posted online, I will add the link!

At the end of Story Time, they always make balloons for the kids. Marin usually asks for a bow and arrow, while Elita is happy with anything, sometimes a flower, or snail, or dog… yup, content girl! Today they got something completely different. Observe….

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Run and Hide, the Clowns are Here!!!

We were quietly watching the neighbourhood folks work and play along the street, some painting the compass rose in the middle of the intersection, while others sat on lawns snacking and catching up on gossip. Then the clowns showed up.

I had finished face painting some designs on a couple children and was just started to pack up, so had Marin watching Elita for me. When she saw the clowns, she turned to sit facing away from them, begging me to go home. I refused. When the paints were safely packed away, I sat beside her, holding Elita and comforting Marin, refusing to take the girls home until we had at least seen some of the performance. For the first 5+ minutes Marin would barely look at me, and wouldn’t even venture to sneak a peak at the clowns.

Seth met our SE PDX clowns, Olive and Dingo about a year ago with Marin, who (at the age of 1 1/2 years) did not take to many people in general let alone someone with face paint and crazy hats! The whole summer Marin and Seth had casual encounters with them, but never once did they crack a smile out of her.

This year though? It’s gonna be different! Marin is now 2 1/2, and after those first 5 minutes of her not even looking at them, she slowly turned just so she could keep an eye on them. Then her curiosity got the better of her and she sat, facing the “stage”, watching intensely and keeping one hand over her mouth as she always does when she is nervous. By the very end though, she was brave enough to talk to Olive, giving her a smile even! And when Dingo came over with a cupcake to get his picture taken with her and her half eaten one, she actually stood beside him and mimicked him, holding her cupcake out. I think it helped that they gave her a pink balloon dog.

These amazing people, Olive Rootbeer and Dingo Dizmal, ride around town on tall bikes, performing for the comunity almost every day, making kids (both big and small) smile and laugh, being what clowns everywhere should be. Good, honest, cheerful people who are lucky to make so many others happy.

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Monsters Under Bridges

There’s this amazing book called “Monsters Under Bridges” by Rachel Roellke Coddington, about some of the resident monsters here in the Pacific Northwest. Our favourite monster from the book is Louis, who lives on the St. Johns Bridge in northern Portland and likes to travel a lot, just like one of our awesome neighbours.

Portland is an amazing place to live, because we also have the Fremont Flixies on…. you guessed it! the Fremont Bridge!

Just a little while ago, on one of the amazingly nice days that we get sporadically here between douses of rain, we as a family went on a trip to see if we could find Louis and the Flixies. Of course, we went by bike. All the way from here in the inner SE, up to and across the St. John’s Bridge, then down the west side to cross back over on the Hawthorne, making stops along the way to play, eat, read the map, smell the roses, look at the view and discuss what our odds were to actually be able to spot the monsters. Marin was pretty sure that we would find the monsters’ homes (the bridges) and that we would find the monsters themselves.

Seth, Girls, Fountain
The fountain at a rose garden.

 

Family Fountain
A family photo!

 

Bikes Fountain
A view of our rigs. That’s Elita in her carseat in the front of Seth’s front loading roll-caged cargo bike. Marin sits in the kid seat on the back of my Big Bunny. (for Surly snobs, that’s a Big Dummy)

 

The St. John’s Bridge felt very BIG, going across on bicycles. I think it is the second largest I’ve ridden across. Surprised we forgot to take any pictures.

We didn’t see Louis, so he must have been visiting friends. Probably Ronoh, who lives in the water under the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge in Vancouver, BC. Louis does love to travel!

Having had no luck finding Louis, we continued to Portland’s down town area for dinner, then passed a ton of bridges and underpasses, looking for the Fremont Flixies and any other monsters that might have come visiting the bridges of Portland that day. Alas, we had no luck.

Family Ferris Wheel
Us! On a bridge in front of a Ferris wheel.

 

After a long day of cycling, we headed home, crossing on the Hawthorne Bridge, with eyes pealed for any sign of monsters. On our ride up SE Stark St, Marin kept telling me that we didn’t find the monsters, so we needed to go back to the bridge, to see the monster’s home and find the monster. With sweat dripping down my neck, and fire burning in my thighs, I had to tell her that finding the monsters would have to wait for another trip, at which time we might be more fortunate in finding them.

Elita Fountain

Return of the Fat Tire

When the Portland Police take a stolen bike report, they don’t give you much optimism as to ever expecting to find it again. That’s just the way it is. Bikes are a big thing in Portland, and just as it is the choice of transportation for many commuters, so is it the premium choice for the homeless community who neither have space under their chosen bridge to park a car, nor do they have the money to put any gas into it.

While Seth was out riding around on Thursday asking people if they had seen a bike with bad-ass tires, one fellow of a shifty character explained it to Seth in a simple way that made a lot of sense. “If you live in a city, you never actually own your bike. You just get to use it for a while before it’s someone else’s turn.”

After talking with and showing a picture of the bicycle to a Parks and Recreation ranger, Seth felt that for his own safety it was time to head. The threats were starting to get forceful and there is no reason to risk your well-being for any type of bike. He continued on home while the ranger got picked up by his partner in a pickup and they headed through the downtown area of Portland. Shortly after crossing the bridge, the ranger spotted a bicycle matching the description and pulled over to ask a few questions of the shifty looking rider. The fellow got off the bike right away, leaned it against a wall and took a step away. It was his brother’s bike he said as he took another step away. With further questioning he just turned on his heel and walked from the scene. 

The funny thing? He was caught with the bike barely 200 feet from where it was stolen!

The rangers confiscated the bike and contacted Seth. Over the phone they asked him to describe the bike, specifically the reflective (Seth puts reflective tape in strange places on all his bikes). He passed the quiz with flying colours and was able to quickly cinch proving he was the owner by producing a key and unlocking the u-lock that was still securing the seat to the frame. 

Then the real questions started! Why are the tires so big? What is the purpose of such a fat tired bike? Where do you get them? etc.

The rangers even got a group picture taken of themselves with Seth and his bad-ass fat tire Surly Pugsley bike. 

Seth was quite the happy camper that day, but it wasn’t over yet. He had ridden his cargo bike to pick up the fat tire on his was in to work, but they were too big and bulky to fit through the narrow staff door, so he had to pull it in through the front doors and move everything one at a time through the store to the back for safe keeping. The morning staff got the whole story at that point, then at the end of the day the evening staff got the story as well as he pulled everything back out of the staff room and back to the front where he strapped the frame and tires of the Surly into the cargo bay of his load pusher. Customers thought it was pretty awesome too, and one asked if he could take a picture of the “Fat Tire in a Cargo Bike” and send it to Bike Snob in NYC. Seth refused, saying it was enough of a day to have gotten his beloved bicycle back after having it stolen, and putting it in his cargo bike was the only way he was able to manage picking it up and getting to and from work all at the same time. He didn’t want to deal with the Bike Snob using it as ammunition against Portland on top of everything else! Fair enough. 

Loss of a Fat Tire

This week has had some ups and down. Seth’s Surly Pugsley Fat Tire bike was stolen on Monday from in front of his work at Mountain Hardwear in downtown Portland.

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As you can see from these pictures, the bike has insanely HUGE tires on it! Bigger than most people have ever seen on a bicycle. In fact, the Surly frame had to be built special for the big tires.

There is a reward for getting the bike back. So far what is known, is that a guy and girl who are known drug addicts were seen dragging it (the wheels were locked to the frame) looking to sell it cheap. Any further information is appreciated. 

Notify Clean and Safe at 503-224-7383

What a Zoo Trip!

Excited to see fish!
Excited to see fish!

Living in such a prime location in SE Portland, we have a very easy time getting across town for a visit to the zoo. Simply walk a couple blocks to the bus stop, ride it downtown and catch the train right to the zoo!

Second Tuesday of every month is discount day. Simply $4 for one adult and the little girl is free. $5 gives a day pass for public transit, so I spent the $9 total for the day and had a grand adventure with my little girl. It really can’t get any cheaper or better than that!

The last time we took Marin to the zoo, she was under a year old and slept through most of it. Her favorite animals (when awake) were the arctic terns and the river otter. Both of them made her crack up laughing.

Now Marin is 16 months old and she had such a grand time looking at all the animals. She walked most of the zoo, periodically catching a ride up on my shoulders, but staying awake well past her regular nap time to see all the varying residents. At the very end we stopped in a quiet spot to nurse and she promptly fell asleep. I moved her to her stroller where she didn’t stir at all as we walked past the last two animals in the zoo (tiger and leopards), caught the train back downtown and  met up with Seth as he got off work. Eventually after a couple hours of wandering through random stores that I had never ventured into while she was awake, we decided to wake her up. The tuckered little girl had no interest in waking up at that point, but her parents are admittedly slightly selfish and didn’t want her late nap to run too long and cause an interruption in their own sleep later that night.

We have now scheduled Tuesdays off as our family adventure day and I even marked the second Tuesdays as zoo days on the calendar for the next couple months. I think with Marin’s love of animals it is well worth making a day trip out of the zoo every month when possible.

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OMSI

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

For the random person who does not know, OMSI makes a grand family adventure with two wonderful children’s areas. One for the slightly older children (and adults) where you can interact with projects and experiments. The other for youngsters from newborn (okay really, what newborn is going to play?) to 8-9? year olds where they can play with balls and wind tunnels, sand and funnels, building blocks, water, puzzles and so much more!

Last year Marin seemed a little too young to benefit fully from the scientific playground, but now she is 1 1/2 and thoroughly enjoys trying to keep up with the other kids or just doing her own thing. Seth’s brother Andrew was kind enough to get us a family membership for this year, so we have tried to go a number of times already. Each attempt has been thwarted though by some means or other. Either Rinny falls asleep before we get there and I don’t have the heart to wake her up, or we just run out of time before having to pick Andrew’s daughter up from school.

Today we woke up early, had breakfast with Seth before he left for work, then I prepared Marin and I for a morning bike ride to OMSI. I thought I was doing well, but by the time we got to the museum Marin had fallen asleep again. I thought that this one time maybe I would wake her up and hope that she would nap later, but when we got to the doors I discovered that they were closed today. NO!!!!! After trying 6 or 7 times just in the last 2 weeks to get there, the one time I make it and they are closed! What a disappointment.

Try again later!

 

Alberta Street Fair

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Every last Thursday surrounding the summer months, NE Alberta Street hosts an open fair or market for artists to show off their stuff. It is free for anyone who has made their own items, so we tried making a few things and took them up there by bicycle. This last month’s art display was painted horseshoe crabs by Seth with a small input from myself, as well as a small display of leather wallets I hand sewed.

We like traveling by bike as much as possible, which is pretty easy here in Portland, and traveling with art is pretty fun and rewarding although it certainly is full of effort. It takes us about 45 minutes of riding to get up to Alberta Street from the Powell area with fully loaded bikes and trailer.

When we got up to the fair, we found Seth’s friend Tom who builds cargo bikes and sells doll head planters at the street fair. Setting up beside him, the two guys had fun bouncing ideas off each other as Seth showed off his creative skills in erecting a rain canopy over his bicycle horseshoe crab display, utilizing tent poles and a large sheet of plastic that let light through from the street lamp just above us.

A bout of bike jousting broke out right in front of us in the middle of the street and belly dancers flirted their hips in bright colours with bells and jangles to the tunes of live gypsy music. Food carts spot the street corners, filling the night air with fragrant smells. Music beats out over the smells, teasing the ears like the smells tease the nose.

Exciting night for yet another family adventure!

Crazy And We Love It

Last night I had another one of those “my family is awesome” moments. 

Marin and I had cycled across the river to meet Seth as he got out of work and then we were going to check out the concert by the Weezers that Microsoft was putting on. 

The trip started with a delay by the princess, so Marin and I were a little tight pressed for time to stick to our prearranged schedule with Seth. That meant that I couldn’t take my time riding downtown, I had to push it. Do you know what it’s like to ride a slow, loaded three wheel cargo bike from 39th to Pioneer Square in 30 minutes? Your legs get a wicked burn just going up little inclines like the ramp from the esplanade up to Hawthorn bridge, and did you ever notice that most of the bridge itself is an uphill ride? 

I forget which road we turned up from the river side (maybe Taylor?), but the first light you hit is always a red. Once you get the green on that though, if you can keep your speed up it is a straight shot with constant green all the way up the hill to the square. I love that shot. It is a small adrenaline rush for me, surrounded by traffic, pushing the muscles hard to stay with the flow and not miss a light.

Breathing gets fast and heavy, calves yell with the effort and that’s when Seth called on my cell! Fortunately I keep my phone in a little pocket on the bike just below te handlebars, so I could access it without breaking rhythm. 

“Hey, I’m out of work.” Seth told me.

“Great! Sorry I’m late, but I’m almost there. On 5th and coming your way.” 

I think it was easy for him to figure out from my heavy breathing that the conversation had to end right about there, as I was too busy to focus on chatting about anything else, so he said bye and went out to the street corner to wait for me.

Huffing, puffing, smiling big and giggling, I found my man and we took some time to let me catch my breath before grabbing a bite to eat at Freshii and exploring around the concert area for a while then we both at the same time called it quits and said we were uninterested in the music they were playing. 

Somehow we almost always seem to be on the same page with stuff. We like similar styles of food, with each of us coming down to the same two dishes we want to try at restaurants, so we just get both and share them! Or like last night, we were both curious about the concert, but both lost interest at the same time. Then on the ride home we stopped to admire some live-aboard sailboats and we both liked the same one. Sometimes I think we must be a crazy couple, but then, it’s probably better to be crazy and love it, then sane and hate it!

Sunday’s Adventure (also happened to be Father’s Day)

Father’s Day. Yeah, everybody is writing about it aren’t they?

Well, I think Seth had a decent day. It started by chatting with the house guests that arrived almost unanounced the previous night (they turn out to be pretty cool people) and then off we went as a small cute little family to check out a Pedalpalooza group focused on riding bicycles with small children. We had thought that it was going to be everyone riding their bikes with kids, but we found it was more of a sit down talk session at one of the bike shops where a lady gave was explaining the diferent options for carying kids. So…. we continued on down to the weekend market instead. I’m sure we probably could have picked up a few tips or something, but Marin is fairly well set in her carseat on the trike, so we didn’t feel the need to stick around.

Downtown is a weekend market that consists of artsy-fartsy craft people of high caliber, so we always enjoy checking out what they have and grabing a bite from one of the food carts.

To add to the downtown atractions, there was also a Gay Pride Parade going on as well, so of course we had to stop and watch them for a little bit and marvel at the dress code. Or at least, marveled at the dress code or lack thereof.

Then it was off to work for Seth, so we said goodbye beside our bikes and parted ways, except that after wandering around the crowds for a little while longer, Marin and I went to visit him at Mountain Hardwear for a short bit. I like the staff there, as they are all very suportive of Seth and have no problem with me stopping by and taking advantage of their little sitting area to get off my feet and nurse Marin. I think Seth enjoyed having us there, being able to peek around the corner when he didn’t have a customer to talk to, and see Little Marin fascinated with her own reflection in a full length mirror. She was able to walk right up to it and touch it, not knowing what to think of the cold hard thing getting in her way of touching the other little girl that looked just like herself.

Seth and Marin being goof-balls
Seth and Marin being goof-balls

Yet again, we had another family adventure on bicycles in Portland!