A Bike Ride in the Country

comments: 79


After an incredibly stressful several months at work, Andy took some time off these past few weeks. As an early birthday present, I bought him a new bicycle so we could go out riding together. I have a really nice cruiser that he got for me eight or nine years ago. Now we ride in style. I love riding bikes because I can go so much further!


This is the Springwater Corridor, a former railway corridor once used to carry produce from the small farms to the city. Now it's a pedestrian/bicycle/horse path that crosses southeast Portland for about twenty miles, give or take. Yesterday we started at 122nd Avenue. That's Mt. Hood gleaming above the trees, about fifty miles away.


We rode to the old neighborhood of Ambleside in Gresham, once a vacation destination for Portlanders looking to get away for the weekend, now just a sweet little neighborhood. Here's the entrance and the darling house that faces the path. It's all private, so you can't get any closer. But, oh. It's so lovely.


The path wiles flatly through miles of brushy, blackberry-brambled urban countryside. Small farms, rickety outbuildings, chickens and sheep, and backyard ponies line the trail, along with the occasional apartment complex, busy-road crossing, and sketchy character. For the most part, it's a bucolic respite, smelling of weeds and fresh-cut grass and the gurgling creek. My favorite part is actually a short detour through the neighborhood near 158th, where a recent flood damaged the old trestle bridge. For a few blocks you must leave the path and travel the sleepy, carless road, over the creek, past the horse pasture.


I still think of my bike as my pony, as I did when I was a child, horse-crazy and filled with hopeless, stomach-aching longing, tying a string to my handlebars for "reins," riding my bike over "jumps" (painted lines) in the school parking lot behind my house. I set myself complicated obstacle courses in which I would compete (against myself), occasionally wiping out in spectacular displays: full-body abrasions and blood-curdling screams that would wake my after-dinner-napping father, who was never pleased with this. He did not like horses.


As an adult, this longing for the country life manifests itself in pasteurized, suburban-girl ways — a bike ride past some piney, running sheep (those are sheep), Thursday concerts at the farm, berries from the farmer's market, August pilgrimages to the county fair. I know nothing of the realities of the country. My mate is a city boy at heart; though always up for a field trip, he is a thoroughly social creature, delighting in close neighbors, cable TV, and the urban hustle. Our patch of property, at 50 by 100 feet, is almost too big. Well, it's quite enough. My longing is mostly fantasy, I am sure. I do know that country life isn't easy. But what I really long for is a slower life, one with less input, less output. Not easier, just quieter. Less car. More animals. More weather.

Ride10At least we have this beautiful bike path. I think there's a Sunday farmer's market at the end of it, too, in Boring.

Excellent. We'll be there.


What a beautiful ride. If only the people at the little cottage would appear with a tray of lemonade.....someday! Your pictures, as always, are gorgeous.

this sounds so peaceful, alicia. so glad you two had the day to do just this!!

Melissa C. says: May 06, 2008 at 11:22 AM

Such a lovely post, Alicia. Sounds like you had a great day.

I too have those longings for a simpler country life, probably completely disconnected from the reality of rural existence. Seems like you have the best of both worlds in Portland, though, with such beauty nearby. :)


What a lovely ride. My path is less green and lush, no ponies but a couple of people who are sketch. Once we saw a snake. I don't like that. Love the photo of Andy riding ahead.

kristin jo says: May 06, 2008 at 11:24 AM

There is really a town called Boring? Hilarious. I lived there when I was 8 yrs old.

"Mom, I'm bored."
"Only boring people get bored. Why don't you go ?"


I really wanted a pony too.

kristin jo says: May 06, 2008 at 11:28 AM

There is really a town called Boring? Hilarious. I lived there when I was 8 yrs old.

"Mom, I'm bored."
"Only boring people get bored. Why don't you go fold the laundry?"


I really wanted a pony too. At least I had a Schwinn Stingray to go explore the canal paths.

Love this post Alicia!

Roberta says: May 06, 2008 at 11:34 AM

Boring, that's my hometown!
Glad you could enjoy it!

Lovely pictures and great narrative. I live in the country and love it. I think the secret to country life is to live somewhere that has a cultural influence close or else it is rather weird, you know?

You paint such a view, such a dream.

Lovely post! I used to pretend my bike was a horse, too!

Mmm..I want to go there..I'm going to live in the country someday..Wait, I already do. Oh yeah. (I kinda forgot that I'm moving out of the dorm in 2 days..)

Rebecca says: May 06, 2008 at 11:47 AM

I love the whole biking through the countryside! I used to pretend my bike was my horse too. I would ride around the house through the yard so it would be bumpy like riding a horse. I have a retro looking cruiser type bike too, with a Nantucket bike basket on it. It just screams for a farmer's market. I can just see fresh veggies and fruits sticking up out of it. Thanks for such lovely posts everyday. It has become my very favorite one!

I think the same thing! My fantasy is a country cottage, surrounded by flowers and trees and the woodsy creatures as they are in children's books - Mama and Papa Mouse having breakfast at a tiny table in the bottom of the tree! But I am certain it's a hard life to have lots of land and farm animals. And it would kill me when they passed on, let alone me doing them in for a chicken dinner!

But it's such a privilege to have a wonderful day as you did and to feast your eyes on the landscape. I, too, wish for a gentler time with a slower pace. I long for the Sundays of my childhood where the stores were closed and you had dinner in the early afternoon then snoozed on the hammock or visited with neighbors. It may not have been convenient but we were all much happier.

Grass is greener and all that jazz! Glad you had such a fun day.


I think we all long for that life. More quiet, less noise. Less TV, internet. Less rush. More reading, cooking, sighing. I think this year I have taken an important first step toward it.

I'm incredibly envious of that bike path. I grew up in Calgary, which is covered in bike paths, but where I live now in BC, there is nothing! Only the side of the highway to ride on- YIKES!

Oh! WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL blog you have here! I'm so excited. I recently went full-time with my handmade biz and was turned onto your blog as a source of information today and I love it. An Oregonian too! Fantastic. I look forward to hearing more cheerful news through your posts. -myra :: twigs & honey

For a few moments I was transported away from my sunny desk and out onto your bikepath. I rode my bicycle to work today, and now I'm looking forward to the ride home. Mostly I'll cruise through downtown Salt Lake City, but for a sweet quiet stretch, along the paved pathway of the Jordan River. I do love life! Thanks for a lovely post.

Such an lovely evocative post! I already live in the country, and while it is not an easy life when you have animals to care for, as I do, it has many rewards.....the peace, the quiet, being able to see the stars at night and the blessed privacy. So wonderful that Portland has provided a little escape from city streets for you to enjoy.

Ah, the "40-mile loop." My dad owned a recording studio (still does, really, though it's super outdated now in terms of technology) off 135th, in the basement of his business partner's house. His partner's daughter and I were close in age, so we used to ride our bikes on the trail after they finally took the tracks out. You can get up to Powell Butte the back way from the trail, somewhere - there's a stand of ancient apple trees up there with perfect branches for sitting on. Have you ever gone the other way, towards downtown? It's way more fun to face the mountain, so I never did (unless we were on our way back).

How wonderful! I love cycling too :)

HeidiAnn says: May 06, 2008 at 12:46 PM

What a beautiful area! The countryside you show has the look of my absolute favorite type of country. So green and lovely, meandering past old farmstead-looking places. I just love it .

What a wonderful place to ride.
Beautiful scenery

What a wonderful, wonderful little trip to take. It reminds me of long bike rides with my Dad, out into the country....with an ice cream parlor at the end!

Your summer is off to a good start: nice and early and fulfilling :)

I just realized how lucky I am. I *had* my pony (a succession of them as I grew) as a child--my first was a black and white shetland named Penny. *AND* I now have my cottage with woodland creatures all around it. I'm still working on the cottage garden. The slugs at the foot of Mount Hood are the size of Tri-Met buses... they are hindering my efforts by devouring most of my perennials. ::Argh:: But I will have my cottage exploding with blooms someday!

How cool is that?

::buffs knuckles on her shirt::

Sweet. ;)

Meggish says: May 06, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Hee hee, Boring. I nearly made my husband run off the road trying to take a picture when we passed that particular road sign. =]

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com