Portland, Oregon, is home to some wonderful sights and is a terrific, vibrant town nestled in some of the best scenery in the country. But, however picturesque the city is, you might still need to “get away from it all.” One of the best places to go is a small alluvial island near the convergence of the Columbia and Willamette (pronounced will-A-mit, sounds like “dammit”) rivers, called Sauvie Island.
It’s actually minutes from the center of town, but it’s worlds away. Here, the lovable hippie-grunginess of the Pacific Northwest meets the quaintness of Tuscany and the vistas of Switzerland. You can find ‘u-pick’ farms growing vegetables and flowers, along with dairy cows, horses, and a big wildlife preserve. There are camping locations, nature trails and beaches.
Right now is the time to head there to grab your late-summer-harvest fresh foods. Make sure to try the different berries indigenous to this region, such as the marionberry, which even grow wild on the roadsides. If you are not afraid of starches, test your orientation skills in the Corn Maize, an annual maze cut through a farmer’s field. A tip for runners or cyclists: the paved portion of the island is a scenic 12-mile loop of good, flat pavement.
The best time to go is early morning, when the quiet little rural island is still waking up. Clear days offer gorgeous views of both Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood and very little traffic. It’s common legend that it has Portland’s only nude beach; but this, I can neither confirm or deny. I can confirm, however, as a former resident, that the legendary Pacific Northwest “Pillsbury-doughboy tan” can be spotted here, in the wild.