Late February in Portland is a misty transition between winter and spring, an enchanting time to visit home. I had forgotten how vibrantly green Portland can be before the trees leaf out, when the moss and ferns hold center stage among the subdued deep hues of the Douglas Fir and pines. The occasional sun break tears a dazzling path through the clouds, straining the eyes as the world suddenly alights in a rainbow of colors.
Sure, we have a reputation for it always raining – but there’s more to this rainy season than gray gloom.
The best place to observe this subtle shift is the Japanese Gardens, located in Portland’s Washington Park. Just hop the MAX light-rail (blue line west towards Hillsboro) to the underground station at Washington Park/Oregon Zoo, ride the elevator to the surface, and catch bus #63 on weekdays to the Japanese Gardens/Rose Gardens stop. (A special Washington Park shuttle also runs daily in the summer.)
I absolutely insist you go on a rainy day. The gardens look best in the rain, when the rock gardens and stone pathways are coated in a sheen of moisture and elegant streams of water cascade out of roof spouts.
A quick visit to the Oregon Zoo – also located in Washington Park and only a short walk from the MAX light rail station – on a drizzly day.
Every trip home, I like to explore solo for a few hours, just taking in the streets and people, smells and sounds, of my hometown.
We took a quick jaunt up to visit my sisters in Snohomish, Washington. The ride back to Portland on Amtrak coincided with an exceptionally rainy period. The ground was so saturated, mudslides plagued the region, including a mudslide that forced Amtrak to bus us from our station to catch the train onward to Portland.
Scenes from a train window:
All photos copyright of Karina Zeier, 2012.