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Monday, November 24, 2014

Pier Park, Portland, Oregon

Pier Park, Portland, Oregon

I don't know where Portland ranks when it comes to public parks but they have to be near the top of the list. According to Wikipedia, there are at least 279 public parks covering more than 10,000 acres. Pier Park, located in the St. Johns neighborhood, covers around 87 acres. It is characterized by mature evergreen trees. Our friends - Todd, Rebecca and McKenzie, who moved to Portland from Florence, Alabama last year - live just a few blocks from this park. Rebecca walks her neighbor's dogs here every day. The park is popular for walkers, joggers and fans of frisbee golf. The NBC televison series "Grimm" also films scenes here.


Pier Park, Portland, Oregon

Pier Park, Portland, Oregon

Pier Park, Portland, Oregon

Pier Park, Portland, Oregon

Pier Park, Portland, Oregon

Pier Park, Portland, Oregon

Pier Park, Portland, Oregon

Pier Park, Portland, Oregon



Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

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Friday, November 21, 2014

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

We finally made it to Portland on October 23rd, the fifth day after we left home. We encountered the first rains as we drove across the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. It rained almost every day that we were in Portland but it usually cleared up and some days were even sunny. One of the wettest days was the day we visited The Grotto, The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.

I read about The Grotto on a traveler's website and thought it would be an interesting place to visit. Some of our friends from Alabama had arrived by then and they being Catholic, I thought they might enjoy it too. I am probably the LEAST religious person on earth but I thoroughly enjoyed this place and Michael says that he would list it as one of his favorite places in Portland. It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful. Of course, the entire time I was there I was thinking of Jennifer Jones in "The Song of Bernadette"!

Giant fir trees line a pathway that lead to the shrine at the grotto. The grotto itself is nestled into the base of a 110-ft. tall cliff. A chapel is located near the grotto. Services are held here and sometimes, on good weather days, they are held directly in front of the grotto. 

An elevator takes you to the top of the cliff where a meditation chapel, a monastery, religious artwork, shrines and an incredible 62-acre botanical garden awaits.  

I did not hear of The Grotto on my first visit to Portland last year and just stumbled upon it this time. If you visit Portland, be sure to visit this incredible place. I would place it right up there on the list with the Japanese Garden. 





The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The paths leading up to the grotto were lined with massive fir trees.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The grotto is carved into the base of a 110 ft. tall cliff.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon





For a fee, you can take the elevator to the top of the cliff to see the beautiful gardens and religious artwork.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
It is a long way up to the top!



The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The Meditation Chapel at the top of the cliff has a panoramic view of the Columbia River and Mt. St. Helens


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The view from the meditation room.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
Looking down from the top. The grotto is located underneath this cliff.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
This is the statue at the top of the cliff. You can see the top of it in the previous photograph taken from below.
The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
Another view from the top.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
Winding pathways weave through fir trees, mature shrubs (including many large rhododendrons) and water features.



The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
This area is called "The Peace Garden".

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon  


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The Monastery was built in 1936 and is home to the Servite Friars. The Monastery can accommodate up to twelve priests and brothers. The rock exterior is sandstone from Washington State.  The Monastery was condemned in 1985 and the interior structure was gutted and renovated.


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon  


The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
The little red chapel honors St. Anne, the mother of Mary.  Built in 1934 to house the Blessed Sacrament during the first United States Marian Congress, it continued to serve as a chapel before the Chapel of Mary was built.  It now houses numerous Madonna paintings from many countries.

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
Along the pathway are little display buildings that house wood carvings depicting events in the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The states are carved out of white pine and are the work of Professor Heider of Pietralba, Italy. The statues were recently restored.

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

The Grotto, Portland, Oregon
A bronze state of St. Francis of Assisi.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

The Idaho Botanical Garden is right next door to the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. It was once the farm and nursery for the penitentiary. When the prison closed in 1973, the grounds were unused until the botanical garden was established.

The garden comprises 50 acres (15 of which are in cultivation) in the Boise foothills and is divided into garden rooms and individual areas. There is an English Garden, xeric demonstration garden, alpine garden, children's garden, rose garden, meditation area, water garden, etc. Most of the plants in the garden are donated by industry and corporate partners  throughout Oregon and Idaho.

Parts of the garden run along the stone walls of the prison, giving a castle-like background to the plantings. 

The outer-lying areas of the garden are dedicated to native plants and wilderness trails. The Lewis & Clark Plant Native Plant Garden, opened in 2006,  commemorates the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1804-1806). This garden’s goal is to display 145 plant species collected during the expedition between Great Falls, Montana and The Dalles, Oregon. 

The fall color was astounding, especially with the vivid yellows and oranges of witch hazels, ornamental grasses and trees and bright red berries on pyracantha and hollies. 

The gardens also feature garden art by local artists.





Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho
The Rose Garden with the prison tower and walls as background.


Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho  


Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

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