Going to the pumpkin patch — how did that tradition start, anyway? And how has it morphed into the corn maze craziness of today? Well, I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that this has been a perfect October for us in Oregon, and there’s one more beautiful weekend left to go get your pumpkins. If you’re from Portland, we’d suggest checking out Sauvie Island for a fun visit to the country that’s just outside the city. Jeff had Friday afternoon off this week, and we went out and spent a great afternoon there exploring in the sunshine.
Sauvie Island sits just about ten miles north of Portland, right off Highway 30. The island is in the Columbia River, and the community website says it’s the largest island in the Columbia. There are some magnificent views from Sauvie Island. Coming across the bridge onto the island there is a great view of Mt. St. Helens on the left and Mt. Adams on the right. I think this is one of the best places near us to see Mt. Adams. You can really get a sense of how big that mountain is!
About half the island is a wildlife refuge and about half is farms and homes. We wanted to do some birding out there, so we packed up our binoculars and my camera backpack, and headed out to Coon Point. Immediately when we got out of the car we heard the honking. This refuge is a popular place for Canada Geese, in addition to many other types of birds. We saw long lines of the birds flying overhead in their V formations, and even though they were far away, we could hear them clearly. The view of Mt. St. Helens from there was incredible, and the geese were flying directly in front of it, so I opened up my backpack to get out my camera. Only apparently I made a huge rookie mistake and didn’t check to make sure my camera was actually in the bag before leaving. Oops.
Oh, well, we had our binoculars and our point and shoot camera, and the sun was shining and we weren’t working. Who needs a good camera at that point, really? We watched a Harrier Hawk circle the fields for a while, and then we heard a huge commotion of birds off to the left and saw hundreds, maybe thousands, of birds fly up off the lake and away into the distance. We think many were Snow Geese because they were bright white with black wingtips, but we can’t be sure from that distance. Whatever they were, it was pretty stunning to see and hear the kerfuffle.
A few minutes later we heard a different honking sound really near to us and saw a Great Blue Heron flying past. We’ve rarely (if ever) heard a heron make a noise, so that was pretty cool.
We drove a little further down the road to one of the wildlife spots that’s on the river (forgot to write down the name, though, blast!) to look for more birds there. We did see a brace of ducks (a brace is the collective noun for ducks, didya know?) flying low along the water. They had bright white wing patches on the body end of their wings — we need to identify those still.
But the really amazing thing about this part of the river is the view of the mountains. Not only can you see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams, you also have a spectacular view of Mt. Hood and even a little peek of the peak of Mt. Rainier! Of course all this requires a spectacularly clear day, but guess what? We had a spectacularly clear day! Awesome!
Then it was off to find ourselves a pumpkin. There are several pumpkin patches on Sauvie Island. We stopped at Douglas Farms to get our pumpkin, where they were just 25 cents a pound. Good thing, because our pumpkin, even though it wasn’t that big, weighed 25 pounds! Whoa! Unfortunately, we couldn’t actually go in the fields at this patch because those hard, hard rains we had at the end of September have made a bit of a bog out of their fields, but they’d kindly picked many for us to choose from. Better for my foot anyway this year.
While we were there, we happened to meet a fellow Portland blogger, Patti, from farmmade.com, a marketplace for farmers. Check out her blog with lots of yummy recipes using farm-fresh foods.
Our final stop was the Bella Organic farm. I’m sure this place (and all the pumpkin patches) gets crazy crowded on weekends, so I’d suggest getting to the island early, but they have lots of fun family activities here, like the cow train and photo opp spots and a corn maze. The corn maze theme this year: Voodoo Doughnuts! Of course they sell lots of organic produce, too. We got some yummalicious acorn squash and apples, and some local cheese curds. We would have taken more pictures of all the fun stuff, but we were too distracted by the glorious caramel apples they had there to remember to do that. We did have the presence of mind to split one, and they will even cut it for you so it’s easier to eat and no one steals more than his share…
If you haven’t been to a pumpkin patch in a few years, take a little trip back in time and act like a kid again. It’s a fun way to spend a beautiful fall day. Enjoy your week or your weekend, and Happy Halloween, too!