Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Walk Through Oregon City

I recently took a 4-5 mile walk through Oregon City for three reasons:

1) Enjoy nature 
2) Check out the local businesses
3) Have a date with my husband
4) Start getting ready for a marathon in October

Yes, I signed up for a marathon. My father-in-law assures me that anybody can do a marathon (walking). He also says there are only two ways your body pays for it: either before or after - either way it takes six months.  So I'm starting to make a down payment now via layaway, and it made for an interesting walk.

My starting and ending point was Clackamette Park. From there, I walked a loop upstream along the river toward the bridge, up through downtown Oregon city, past the old papermill and museum, and then back around to where I started. I kept an eye open for anything interesting, which for me includes plants, animals, vistas, and local businesses. 

On the plants and animal front, I was happy to spot a ruby throated hummingbird sitting on a barren tree and my first snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) of the season. (BTW, if you've ever asked yourself what hummingbirds eat in late winter before there are any flowers, the answer is tree sap and pre-digested tree sap, which they steal from aphids.)  Since the river has been running a little high, the falls a little further upstream of the city were beautifully dramatic.

What I really noticed on this trip, however, were the local businesses. Downtown areas are not setup to navigate by car as easily as the local strip mall; however, they're a mecca for businesses that are interesting, independent, and local. I noticed, for example, a shop that sold vintage hats along side gourmet chocolate, a traditional arcade (complete with the old machines for Pacman, Centepede, and Tetris), a few antique stores, and a print shop that allowed a glass artisan to display his work in their window front. 

There were also two shops that I noticed due to their connection to the fiber arts: Wynona Studios and Seven Seas Canvas. I was able to talk to the owners of both, who were extremely friendly, and I was impressed with the work they've put into making a brick and mortar business work.

Wynona Studios is devoted to anything having to deal with knitting, yarn, or related fibers, and they are in their second year of business. The shop was full of wool roving, yarn, spinning wheels, and knitted items that are available for sale. It looks like a great place to check out a spinning wheel if you're thinking of getting one, and they feature new pieces monthly that local individuals have created up on their wall. In fact, I really liked the way they feature those pieces - they've installed gilded molding up on the wall, which becomes a frame for each piece.  

Canvas is great for highly detailed embroidery.
Seven Seas Canvas is devoted to making (and repairing) custom boat covers. There aren't many people who make custom boat covers in the US, and visiting his studio was a special treat for me: my parents (in Virginia) bought a cover for their Tazer sailboat from him (in Oregon) while I was in college.  To randomly happen upon his custom studio was delightful.

Although he focuses on making boat covers, he'll make almost anything with canvas. In fact when I wandered in, Chris Calvert, the sole proprietor, was working on a hammock. He was kind enough to show me his industrial sewing machine and a bit of how it worked. (I've read a lot about industrial sewing machines, but I've never been able to touch one before.) I was really impressed Chris and his willingness to take some of his time to answer my questions.

Given the amount of canvas that he goes through... he might be a really good source for buying it for my own projects. The next time I want to use high quality canvas (like nautical-grade quality), I think I'm going to contact him for a quote. Maybe he'll be able to give me a reasonable price for a few yards.  

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