Wandering the Trails in Vernonia: what about the crazed riders?

Aspen Grove

Another weekend has passed. The Autumn fog which rolls in each morning, and lingers as the sun works hard to burn it away leaves its traces, behind a few puffy clouds. Wishful thinking, I love the sun.

Let’s face it. The sun will be on hiatus for a few months, we merely have to deal with it. I would much rather live in this climate than in the east coast where they experience below freezing temperatures, blizzards, and flooding, or the south where its humid, hot, and flooding, or in the mid-west where it is way below freezing, blizzards, and flooding, or the southwest where you expect sun but freeze your touche off unexpectedly, and may experience an earthquake or two or three.  I suppose Hawaii would be a nice choice, except the lifestyle is expensive and a few volcanoes to contend with, and no way in the world will you ever get me to Alaska – freezing.  So Portland, you see is perfect regardless of the sunless skies and sleeping volcano nearby. You simply can’t have everything, is my point.

Changing Colors

We are very lucky in the Portland Metro area and that is fine by me. Let’s hope we don’t have a winter like 2008, or 2009, I can’t remember which. What I can remember was snow, and lots of it. The snow would have been okay, if I still lived in New York where you expect snow, or Spokane, the hell hole of the Universe (sorry my friends who live there).  I will try not to complain, when the weather  get’s colder. I have my heater and Ugg boots – I am happy. If the winter gets too cold I will move in with my in-laws in Australia, or my brother in Guam.

Lady Morgana - my helper

This morning, like most chilly autumn morning, I  am sitting at the computer with a nice cup of hot chocolate from France, thank you Mike and Kelly, and tiny Gluten Free marshmallows; who knew marshmallows even had gluten, really? Apparently so.

By my side, Lady Morgana, who can’t seem to let me out of her sights. A somewhat typical occurrence especially when the chill is in the air. As I try to type she nuzzles herself in a ball and curls up on my arm, purring like a tiny motorboat. Comfy for her, not so much for me. Her brother Mr. Perkins used to do the same, until she came along.

Mr Perkins Laughing!

He now sulks is at my feet, and practically forces his 17 pound frame inside the small heater on the floor. In other words, he is a heater hog or heater whore, take your pick.

Morgana, our sweet new addition, this past summer, was rescued after being tossed aside the road in a plastic garbage bag weighing less than one pound and sick. Can you believe it? For someone who has never been a cat person (allergies), I have to say I can’t believe people still treat animals so wrongly.  Why no one would want either of our two well loved animals is beyond me. I guess I am grateful, but still angry at those idiots. So, both kitties were in my opinion meant to live with us.

Who couldn't resist this face?

Mr. Perkins has grown into his name so perfectly. It is true, he did. We are the proud owners of a metro-sexual cat who believes he is ‘the’ prima donna and ruler of the House.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. But, it is so true. Morgana on the other had, is the real princess. Like I said, for a person who has never been a cat person, I am seriously allergic, they fill our lives with such joy and much laughter. I feel blessed they comfort me. I will discuss the allergy to cats, another time. A very interesting story I might add, one in which would benefit many of my readers.  I will give you a tiny hint – it is all in the food. Think about it and I promise I will explain next time.

Oak Leaves

So this past weekend Lloyd and I found it difficult to decide where to go. And yet another reason Portland is so wonderful, is that no matter what direction you find yourself traveling whether it is north, south, east, west, you can find something to do. Whether it is open areas of forest, places to hike, bike, or wine taste up and down the Willamette Valley, or walking along the beach of the Pacific Ocean, to climbing Mt. Hood, or skiing down Mt. Hood, or as Lloyd and I often do – take photos and this time of the marvelous landscapes and autumn foliage, or a myriad of other activities inside or out, essentially all year round.

Gold and Verdant Forest

With this in mind, we sometimes find it difficult as with this weekend, to decide where to go, because we have so many places to choose from. We finally decided to take a little journey away from our hood, to the tiny area (town) of Vernonia about half an hour from our home. “Vernonia? Really?” I said. I was pleasantly surprised, Lloyd wasn’t as he had been on the Vernonia trail before. I merely had heard about it. Seeing is believing. We stopped at a trail head in what seemed to be in the middle of no where, but the sign clearly said Beaver Creek Trail Head. The trail, remnants of an old railroad line which once served the area with cargo and carried out wood from the various logging practices in the area.

More recently however, the trail has been used by mountain bikers, equestrian enthusiasts, and hikers. A couple of years ago, much to the chagrin of the Mountain biking community, someone in a sate government department, I believe, and don’t quote me on this, decided to pave the majority trail to provide more access. A great idea, because it allows usage of the trail virtually year round without becoming a muddy mess. Even though, the mud can be fun when riding.

Mountain Biker

The Vernonia trail extends from Banks to Vernonia and parallels Beaver Creek and Highway 26, along an approximately 17- mile stretch of the abandoned railroad line. The trail is now used by not only mountain bikers and equestrians, but hikers, road cyclists, and cross country skiing in the winter, just as the  the powers that be, wanted to have occur.  But I bet the equestrian riders as well as the mountain bikers preferred the unpaved path.

Regardless, the trail is perfect for wandering along and capturing the great outdoors through the eye of our cameras. I loved the trail, I only wish I had discovered its beauty sooner. The foliage was beautifully transforming from the verdant greens to the golds, bronzes, crimsons, and scarlet shades so typical of deciduous forests. Which of course translated to an areas perfect for great pictures. Nothing like the east coast Autumns, but a very close second. The tranquility of the outdoors allows your mind to wander loosely through unknown passages until it finally captures answers it never knew it sought. That in part is why the outdoors is so wonderful. That is all you ‘have’ to do, think and enjoy.

Fairies Dancing in the Trees

With the exception of the occasion traffic noise from Highway 47, I still felt very much in the middle of the wilderness somewhere.  Lloyd and I were happy. We found solace in the outdoors regardless the trail was paved. Our adventure along the trail captured the magic of the forest through the eye of our camera lens. And that is precisely what we did.

Leaves in Motion

One question did arise during our adventure: when did our society become so unfriendly? Out of the many folks we encountered along the trail, and there were actually quite a few, only one small group of four cyclists acknowledged our presence with a hi, hello, and a coupe of hand hi’s.

Aren’t small town folks suppose to be friendly? Aren’t cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts cool?

Then I thought back to the times when I use to ride the trails. Was I this unfriendly? Did I ever said anything to people as I had passed them on the trails. Yes I had, it was like a cyclist code. At the very minimum you at least give the hand hi or a nod. Everyone did. It was the appropriate and well respectful thing to do. Thankfully, the rudeness we encountered didn’t ruin our fun. The thought merely lingered.

Forest through the Trees

Perhaps I was bothered because I am older and wiser. Ha! I’m not old. My mind isn’t old merely polished a bit. And the wiser part, well that comes with life’s experiences. That can’t be helped. The longer you live the wiser one becomes or at least that is the way it should work. But as we wandered along this beautiful trail talking in the fresh air and the beauty this part of Oregon has to offer, I realized I had little patience for shallow minded individuals. Wake Up! Life is too short for you to be not see the forest through the trees- seriously and it is a tremendous loss if you don’t open your eyes, mind, and heart – they are after all – connected.

Head in the Clouds

Despite the folks with their heads in the clouds, our adventure on the trail was wonderful. A fabulous way to enjoy the outdoors, taking photos, and spending it with my husband. Two of my favorite things to do. I highly recommend, taking a drive out to Vernonia and or Banks and hopping on the trail for a spin, walk, or roller blading experience.

I have learned there is in fact life beyond riding a bike. Argh. Yet more words I never thought I would say let alone write. I am getting old – er. I believe I prefer wis -er, maybe not, wiser.

The outdoors is a place where one can be in solitude if one so desires. Behind a camera can also bring one the same desire of solitude, or shared with someone. I love it, the feeling of getting that perfect shot and sharing it with someone – my husband. It ranks right up there with the great ride. I spend a number of years with my seat in the saddle as has my husband.

Foggy Forest

I also love writing, it is cathartic. Mostly it is, otherwise I wouldn’t have spent my entire career in the woods, in the mud, then writing about it, and another five writing a novel – Another story.

It took me a while to figure this out. Being out in nature, makes ones endorphins go wild with desire; in a therapeutic way. Have you ever noticed?  I highly recommend you take a step into the woods or a walk on a nature trail. I have spent twenty some years plus out in nature doing exactly what I loved doing – studying nature, photographing it, then writing about it.

Yellow Maple Leaf on the Ground

But, I do understand why some say those with PhDs are merely are piled higher and deeper. It is true. I am. I make things more difficult than they need to be. This is true of when I write and when I take pictures.  Whether or not I am good at what I do, I don’t much care anymore. I do, but more so, I enjoy doing it so that is what matters most. And I am grateful and  humbled  you like my work, and I am pretty sure I speak for my husband as well.

Vine Maple

It is simple –

Bright Scarlet Maple

Like this photo – the leaves are gradually turning to their autumn shades of scarlet and crimson of Autumn.

Simply Black and White

And I find myself thinking about nature and how wonderful and lucky we are to have so many fabulous places to see and enjoy.

Both Lloyd and I hope that you will continue to read our blog and follow us each week as we explore new and fascinating places whether they are within the Portland Metro Area or elsewhere, we look forward to sharing our adventures and photos with you.




I am grateful for each day that I can sit and work on the blogs, the new novel, and add new photos to our website with Morgana and Mr. Perkins by my side. Thanks for reading and sending us comments.

We are very blessed.

Dumb Ass - Head Underwat

If you take away anything from this post – please be courteous when you encounter others on the trail or wherever your travels may take you. It doesn’t hurt. In fact it might make one’s day or ,even better, someone else’s. Happy and safe travels.








One thought on “Wandering the Trails in Vernonia: what about the crazed riders?

  1. I am enjoying your blog…learning so much! Enjoyed the black and whites and your fog pics. Turned out well! Oh, and, I didn’t know marshmellows had gluten! Gotta find those GF ones!!

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