Columbia Slough Part III – The Interview…A Peek Behind The Scenes

-Volunteer Series-             The Interview   

Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC)                                              Meet The Employees!                             

Nathan Barrett – Community Connections    


Nathan (above photo-middle exuberant one with other CSWC crew members)  has multiple responsibilities with CSWC, including recruiting and managing the council’s volunteers, assisting in creating a volunteer management plan within the different areas of the organization including: slough school, stewardship and outreach.

Penny Beckwith – Outreach Director   

Penny Beckwith 1                                    Penny has a strong background in event and volunteer coordination, most recently from her work with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Penny has more than seven years of outdoor leadership and group facilitation experience.


I sat down with Penny and Nathan to learn a little bit more about their take on environmental education, their roles at the council, and general CSWC news.


What draws you to the work you do?

Nathan:  In my previous work, I focused on social aspects of community organizing, but not the environmental component. I like seeing the intersect in the neighborhoods between social and environmental issues. Creating a good physical environment in our local communities is important to me, and I enjoy talking with people, so this position is a good fit.

Penny: I was inspired in 6th grade during our outdoor school program to care for the environment. That eventually led me to pursue an Environmental Studies degree. I started as a volunteer for CSWC doing the paddle program last year. I was really re-inspired about water issues, and felt a little discouraged thinking on a global scale, so I wanted to get involved in my local community. Getting kids and families excited with water is easy during the paddle events, so I wanted to extend that.

Why do you think it’s important to raise awareness about the Columbia Slough?

Penny: When I tell people I work here (CSWC), people say, “REALLY?, that’s poo water!” I want to heal that misperception – I want to bring the hook of “it’s a fun watershed!” I want people to know how the slough is connected to our ground water, and a general understanding of connecting people to place. [Understanding what is in your own backyard!]

Nathan: I get a lot of the same responses. Most people say, “You work there, GROSS!” There are so many awesome places to explore in and around the Portland Metro area, The Gorge, Mt. Tabor, Forrest Park etc., but, if people that live in this area don’t have transportation, then those areas aren’t very accessible. The Slough is in their own neighborhood, and it’s beautiful and close. Connecting people with places where they live is important.

Can you share some of CSWC’s  accomplishments?

Penny: Development of the Explorando event [the Council’s bilingual nature festival]. I think it’s great that we have a bilingually focused event. The Council was honored with a “Light a Fire” award in the Portland Monthly magazine. It shows that we are a small organization, but we are able to do a lot with the resources we have.

Nathan: I think our Slough School program is really doing great, serving approximately 5,000 students each year – that is a huge amount of kids receiving environmental education. Our recently organized volunteer program seems to be getting off without a hitch, so I’m really excited about that as well. The first year we did the Aquifer Adventure event (nine years ago), we had approximately 60 people attend. Last year we had 800+ participants. It was a very diverse population as well, people from many different parts of town and different ethnicities, so that was exciting.

What is one goal CSWC is trying to reach right now?

Penny: Create events that are accessible to more people. We are trying to focus on communities that aren’t already involved with our organization. We have a great presence in the schools in our watershed, but we can have a huge presence, so continuing what we are working on.

What are the challenges CSWC faces, if any?

Penny: Sustainable funding would be the key. Diversifying our funding so it’s sustainable.

Nathan: Knowledge about what the Slough is, what the CSWC is doing, spreading the word so there is a better understanding.

Any final thoughts?

Penny: The Slough is really interesting because it’s been through a lot of environmental damage, and it’s never going to return to the pristine waters it once was when this area was a flood plain. So figuring out what the best we can accomplish is kind of exciting, and challenging. I want people to know, it’s okay to not understand what a watershed is, and what is all involved with the Columbia Slough. You don’t have to be knowledgable about the area to come out to one of our events, or visit the Slough. We aren’t an environmental organization, we represent a lot of stakeholders, because many people and businesses are impacted by this watershed. It takes all of us working together to make a difference.

Nathan: The environmental movement on a global scale feels massive, but if you focus on your area, you can make a difference in your local community.

Interview post- pond                                                          -Whitaker Ponds –                                                                         This Location is Home to CSWC- Where Penny and Nathan Get to Work!

A gigantic thank you to Nathan and Penny for talking with me, and all their awesome work with the CSWC! Look for them at one of the next CSWC events.

For more information on the CSWC visit the website, and my previous blog posts: Columbia Slough What is It?   Columbia Slough-Natural Surroundings Education!

A Year to Volunteer!

Project Introduction

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Aligning with this years networking focus, and launching my presence out in the community, I am VOLUNTEERING! I have volunteered for more than a dozen organizations in various capacities over the years ranging from tabling and phone banking for Planned Parenthood, to running climate change awareness campaigns for Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG), to chaperoning field trips for my daughter’s class trips. One of the most memorable however, was the summer I cooked 3 meals a day for 120 people for an entire week at a Sierra Student Coalition Summer Training. (I had a helper!)

However, when I moved to Portland, I was slow to get involved. So, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to volunteer for a different organization each month, and sample a dozen nonprofits. I am determined to fulfill my dozen quota, but it may not be on a neat and tidy monthly schedule. I plan to highlight the organizations, perform interviews with staff, volunteers, and participants, and of course, share my experiences volunteering for causes I care about.

So, you guessed it, my first organization is the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. I have already highlighted the Columbia Slough, some of the outreach and community events the council organizes,  and you can look for the interview post next week, and my personal experiences post soon.

Do you work or volunteer for an organization you would like to see me cover? Do you have a favorite cause that deserves extra attention? Have a nonprofit in mind you think I would really enjoy volunteering for? Please comment below-I would love suggestions! I post all my content to the organizations Twitter and Facebook accounts (when appropriate and applicable), and of course, my blog posts are shared with all the folks in my network!

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”   –  Martin Luther King, Jr

Snow, Soul Healing Fun, with a Story of Planned Obsolescence

Me - Snow

In my year-long journey to explore areas closer to home, my second adventure included a beautiful warm sunny day on Mt. Hood. Growing up in Bend Oregon, I had plenty of experiences on and arounMt. Bachelor, but I’ve  explored the Mt. Hood area very little. I grew up cross-country skiing, and honestly didn’t care for it much when I was a child (I was always so cold), but as an adult, I have grown to really love it. It’s such a pleasant way to enjoy the wilderness and snow in the winter season, and get a great workout. Cross-Country skiing is far more affordable than the alternative down-hill options, so it’s perfect for those of us that want to get outdoors, but are on a tighter budget.

I headed toward Mount Hood Meadows, a ski resort for those of you looking to snowboard or ski quickly down-hill. There are several snow parks in the area for snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing. I went with basically zero plan, and winged it quite successfully. (Note: these snow parks do require parking passes. They can be purchased nearly anywhere heading up the mountain.) It had snowed  1-2 feet the day before, so the area was simply gorgeous with fresh snow. Although it was a beautiful day, I went during the middle of the week, so very few people were out. I’m sort of selfish with my outdoor time. Unless I’m spending the day with friends or family, I enjoy being alone when I’m in the woods, nothing pleases me more, to be the only one out there. This proved handy when I had to take half my clothes off along the trail later, as I was way over dressed for such a warm day. (However, I obviously encourage folks to let someone know where you are going, and when to expect you home.)


I first went to Bennet Snow Park. Since it was my first time, I talked to a couple people I saw in the parking lot for insight into the area. (Okay, having people around has its advantages haha.) With all the fresh snow, there wasn’t a lot of tracks down yet, and since it was my first time out on skis in more than three years, I thought it would be good to stick to the main trail.


So I geared up in my snow pants (bib style purchased at Goodwill for $7.00), and my late grandmother’s skis, boots, and poles she purchased in the 1980’s. Good thing retro is so cool in the Portland area, or I may have looked silly. I have a thing about avoiding upgrading or replacing items until absolutely necessary, especially when the equipment you have works perfectly well. (See my post on Planned Obsolescence.)

I will admit, I was a little cranky heading up to the mountain. We all have our off days, and I was just letting things get to me. The stress of looking for work and continual rejection can be  heavy at times. However, as soon as I took that first swish in the snow, all my anxieties, negativities, and grumpiness melted. There is nothing more healing than getting into that crisp fresh air. It was exactly what my mind, body and soul needed!

Sun:Snow Pic

I traveled the trail as it traversed a cliff heading into the woods with a very slow incline rising to a hill with a sweeping view of Mt. Hood and the valley below. It was a relatively short distance, so I decided to make my way to another snow park nearby. I randomly picked the White River Canyon snow park only a mile or so down the road back towards Government Camp.

I was greeted with several families sledding on the hills near the parking lot. The lot itself was much larger than Bennet, indicating its popularity. And I can attest, this was honestly one of the most beautiful scenes I had ever skied in. The trail traveled along a canyon with a running creek below and the mountain right in from of you. There was a wonderful expanse of vision along the trail (nice juxtaposition from the thick woods I was in minutes prior).


I didn’t have a lot of time, so I traveled up the trail for a mile and half, and then made my way back to the parking lot. I didn’t notice I was going up hill on the way in, so to my surprise I glided all the way down (with a few falls here and there. I don’t like to go too fast, and I’m sure I was tired by this point haha).

It was a fabulous experience. I really encourage folks to try an outdoor activity that you haven’t experienced, or use gear that has been gathering dust for years- shake out those cobwebs and give it a try again. It’s one of the most rejuvenating experiences for us. Also, it’s easy and fairly low in cost to rent gear if you would like to give it a go. A friend of mine recently lent me his snowshoes, so perhaps that will be my next adventure.

Please share some of your favorite winter spots below!

Columbia Slough Part II- Natural Surroundings Education

IMG_0113-Columbia Slough near Columbia Blvd. Wastewater Treatment Facility-

I’m a huge proponent in learning about your natural surroundings. What are the native species in your area? What are the bodies of water near you, and the mountains and hills that surround your city/town? Do you know where your tap water comes from? I encourage everyone to attend free events to learn more about your surroundings. It’s a great way to meet interesting individuals, and learn about the “behind the scenes” people that help run our city!

I shared my new found interest in the Columbia Slough in my last post, and I  just couldn’t get enough, so I attended a free educational event to learn more about this enticing area. Co-hosted by the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) and Multnomah County Drainage District No 1., the hour-long event was a great opportunity to learn about the Columbia Slough, the watershed, and the human impacts on the water flow using flood control levees.

Byron Woltersdorf, P.E., an engineer for the Drainage District NO. 1 (MCDD), was our tour guide and educator for the event. IMG_0024He explained there are four drainage districts along the Columbia River from west of I-5 to Troutdale, the watershed has  31 miles of flood control levees, and with the help of the 1936 flood act and then the revised 1950 flood act, the lower Columbia River basin is now protected from flooding with the help of levees constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

When the MCDD was formed in 1917, the land in and around the district was primarily agricultural.  This use of land was perfect, as the annual flooding was great for adding nutrients to the soil. However, as the land use changed over time, eliminating flooding was necessary for the growing urban lifestyle.

IMG_0026-Drainage District NO. 1 Pump House-

After a general history lesson and Q&A session, Woltersdorf gave us a tour of the pump house. Water is pumped down the slough towards the Willamette River, however, there aren’t any pumps on the lower portion of the slough. This portion is tidally influenced from it’s close proximity to the Columbia River, which can be influenced by as much as 1.5-3.5 feet, depending on the tide. (Pretty amazing, considering how many miles away Portland is from the ocean!) The pump house we visited at Drainage District No. 1, can pump 600,000 gallons of water a minute if every pump is running (not normally necessary.)


-Pump Area at Drainage District NO. 1-

During a Hundred Year Flood event, the stations would require to pump a million gallons a minute in a 24-hour period of time.

Speaking of power, apparently, there is not enough of an elevation difference to use the pump house as an energy source, but if the power went out during a time that the pumps needed to be running, five semi-trucks and five tanker trunks would be necessary on site to operate with a generator according to Woltersdorf. (Yikes- that is a huge monthly electricity bill!)

The MCDD meets a few challenges along the way. One interesting critter is none other than Oregon’s state animal, the beaver. There are approximately 3000 beaver in the managed flow plain. Woltersdorf explained, somewhat hesitantly, that his department is allowed to trap and kill the animals when necessary, as the beavers can be problematic. The workers are also allowed to remove dams when needed. The effectiveness of this is limited however. Woltersdorf said that his crew took down a four-feet tall dam once, and in only two days, the beaver erected the same size dam in the same location.

Turns out, “Busy as a Beaver,” is relevant!

Although this department is not in charge of water quality, (mentioned in my previous post), Drainage District  NO. 1 station takes in storm water runoff from a 20,000 acre area of town.


-Columbia Slough Pump area- East of Wastewater Treatment Facility-

For all my history buff readers, a wonderful resource for additional information on the history of the Columbia River Basin, and the Slough, please visit Center for Columbia River History website. It’s full of images, stories, and historical accounts of the area.

Do you have any favorite waterways near you, or stories on discovering your surroundings? I would love to hear them, please share in the comment section below!

Special thanks to the Drainage District NO. 1 and Byron Woltersdorf for all the valuable information, and fun tour!

Thank you for opening  your doors to the public and keeping us all safe from floods….the unsung heroes of Portland!

Special Thanks to the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for all the environmental education, stewardship awareness, restoration, and relationship building they perform in the community and watershed. Please visit the site for additional information, volunteer opportunities, and announcements for future events and workshops.

Columbia Slough- What Is It?

IMG_0115(Columbia Slough on Bike Bridge Near the Wastewater Treatment Plant)

Whenever I move to a new area, I immediately seek out the nature spots nearby, and best places to walk my dogs. When I moved to Portland OR., and started exploring my neighborhood, I stumbled upon the nature reserve on Columbia Boulevard next to the water & sewage treatment facility. IMG_0094It seems a little odd to create an outdoor oasis next to a sewage treatment plant, but it really is a beautiful area close to my home that I can walk the dogs and feel like I’m in a pocket of nature, (despite the occasional unpleasant odor on certain days). A bike trail in this area travels  out to Marine Drive in one direction, or Smith and Bybee Lakes , and Kelley Point Park in the other.

IMG_0102During my first visit, I was stumped by the body of water that flowed through the area. It was too small to be the Columbia River, and larger than a runoff stream. Because of it’s close proximity to the water treatment facility, I honestly thought it was some sort of man-made  toxic runoff  from the plant, despite the fact that I could see evidence of life thriving in the area, (plenty of wildlife and foliage).  I later found out that this body of water is the Columbia Slough. I wasn’t familiar with the term “slough,” further cementing the idea that it had something to do with sewage waste water (“slough” just sounds so yucky).



However, my recent volunteer work with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) has taught me that the Columbia Slough is not man-made, is not part of the sewage treatment facility, and is a very natural occurring body of water influenced by the Columbia River.  The term “slough” is simply a body of water that is low flow, or stagnant, not necessarily “dirty,” although I will share environmental concerns below. The Columbia Slough travels through lakes and wetlands, and is in an area that used to completely flood every year, prior to human intervention.

The Slough is approximately 18 miles long with the headwaters at Fairview Lake in East Multnomah County. Traveling through Northeast and North Portland, (paralleling the Columbia River), the slough eventually flows into the Willamette River in Kelley Point Park.

IMG_0211-Columbia Slough Entering Willamette River in Kelley Point Park-

According to the CSWC website, the entire Columbia Slough Watershed contains 32,700 acres, 6 lakes, 3 ponds and 50 miles of waterway. The area has 26 identified fish species, 175 bird species and contains several wildlife corridors.


(Natural area near Columbia Blvd. Wastewater Treatment Plant)

Despite these amazing characteristics, many challenges are present in maintaining a healthy waterway, especially in this area. The Columbia Slough watershed is heavily industrial and residential, with approximately 158,000 residents-(1/20 of Oregon’s population), 54 schools, 2 universities, 1 community college, and 3,900 businesses, including Portland International airport and port of Portland marine terminals.

The Columbia Slough Watershed is made up of 54% impervious surfaces – solid surfaces where water can’t sink into the ground, and join under-ground water systems. Therefore, water runs along these surfaces such as sidewalks, streets, parking lots etc., picking up sediments, toxins, litter, and oil along the way. This contaminated water makes its way to the slough, where it travels to the Willamette River, onward toward the Columbia, and eventually out to the Pacific Ocean.

Unfortunately, storm water is only one source of pollution in the Columbia Slough. Failing septic systems, illegal dumping, and industrial equipment cleaning, all pollute the water systems as well.  Although the Slough has a long history of contamination, according to the Columbia Slough Watershed website, its cleaner today than it has been in the last 100 years due to great efforts made by the CSWC, and the surrounding community.

To read more about the Columbia Slough Watershed, flood history, and flood control levees, read my blog post Columbia Slough II.

Do you have an interesting story about your local waterways? Please share below!

Special Thanks to the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for all the environmental education, stewardship awareness, restoration, and relationship building they perform in the community and watershed. Much of the statistics I provided above I found on their website. Please visit the site for additional information, volunteer opportunities, and announcements for events and workshops.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and Historic Sellwood

IMG_0072-Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge – View from Trail Platform-

I didn’t travel too far from home with this month’s outdoor adventure. Living in Portland, we are so blessed with pockets of nature right in the city! I have good friends that live in the Sellwood neighborhood in SE Portland, not far from the entrances to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. This is an area I’ve recently grown quite fond of. We go running or hiking on the trails, and there is a great bike path that connects to the Willamette River bike route. It’s easy to make loops in the area, crossing any one of the many Portland bridges. On this particular day, I hiked a dirt path that hugs the Sellwood cliffside and wanders along the wetlands. This area provides a great opportunity to see many species of birds, and is a peaceful, quiet portion of the refuge (no bikes on this trail).


“Oaks Bottom is a floodplain wetland located along the east bank of the Willamette River. Part of the park is built on a sanitation landfill consisting of 400,000 cubic feet of construction waste material layered with soil. The City of Portland acquired the landfill property from the Donald M. Drake Company at the beginning of 1969 to block its development as an industrial park. The area was believed, at the time, to be one of the few remaining marshland areas in Portland, and local residents were strongly opposed to its development as industrial property.”                                                                                                                          -Taken from the Portland Parks & Recreation Website


I entered the trail via the parking lot on Milwaukie Ave. (right off of  99 East toward Milwaukie and Oregon City). Heading into the wildlife refuge from here, it’s easy to make a loop going back up through Sellwood Park, and part of the Sellwood neighborhood. This way, you can see part of historic Portland, such as the Sellwood neighborhood pool. 

IMG_0067-Sellwood Park-

IMG_0065-Historic Sellwood Pool-

Built in 1910, this pool was the first of it’s kind in Portland. It replaced a floating pool that was in the Willamette river when it became too polluted to use. When the pool was first built, girls used it one day, while the boys used it the next-ahhh, the good ol’ daysThe walk back through the park and neighborhood is beautiful with views of the city skyline, and the wildlife refuge below. If you are wanting to add some extra excitement to the day, Oaks Park Amusement park  is in this area, offering roller skating, amusement park rides, and miniature golf.

IMG_0070-View of Oaks Park Amusement Park, Portland City Skyline, and Wildlife Refuge-

Interested in making a day out of exploring the SE Portland area? I encourage you to visit Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden- only a mile or two from the refuge. Check out my post featuring this beautiful park!

Please share some of your favorite outdoor spots, I would love to check them out and feature them in my outdoor adventure series!

The Dance of Networking

As I stated in my “The Long Hiatus is Finally Over” post, one of my main goals this year is NETWORKING. So, I have been inviting folks to join my LinkedIn network, following more professionals on Twitter, and commenting on blogs and articles I find interesting. All of this increases my online presence and participation, however, one of the best ways to network is getting out there face to face with professionals.

I have started going to workshops and seminars to make this happen. I recently attended the RUNT. never underestimate event organized by Mathys + Potestio  in downtown Portland. Runt is a quarterly professional development series from The Creative Party in partnership with the University of Oregon. The event discussed best practices to make freelancing work, featuring Jackie Mathys, Principle of Mathys+Potestio, and Portland based Melissa Delzio, a graphic design freelancer.

Typically, all these events begin with a 30-minute meet and greet period before the guest speaker(s) present. This is the grand networking opportunity. As I walked into the room that night, I signed in, grabbed a name tag and browsed the room. Everyone looked like they were there with another person; a friend, spouse, co-worker etc. I immediately felt so alone, and desperately wished I had brought a buddy or didn’t arrive so early. I was grateful that beer was being served, not because I needed a drink, but because it gave me something to do; at this point, I just wanted to kill time so that I didn’t have to be uncomfortable for any longer than necessary. Next, I headed to the bathroom, a natural time waster.

Realizing I needed a serious change in attitude, I gave myself a stern internal talk. “Look Heather, you are here to network, and get your name out there. You never know who you might meet, and what opportunities are waiting for you. So get out there and meet people!”

If only I had read a really awesome blog post on the dance of networking. I felt so awkward. How should I approach someone? What should I say? Should I be forceful in my mission, (I’m looking for work), or more reserved and talk about my interests and how great the beer is. Although I’m confident, and actually have quite a bit of experience talking in front of large groups, I can be shy, especially in a room full of people that I don’t know. Everyone that night seemed so professional, and I felt like an amateur. I was nervous I would interrupt a group of individuals that all knew each other well, and feel like an outsider.

Although I was nervous, I left that bathroom with one mission, find someone to introduce myself to, But sadly, I stalled some more. Still timid, I went straight to a display at the back of the room, pretending to look at the images, but really just scared to chat it up with a complete stranger. Plus, I was nervous about the possibility of interrupting a private conversation. I felt like such a child, but I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t just do it.

So I marched myself up to the first table I was near and simply said, “Do you mind if I join you all?” “Of course not,” the group replied, as they introduced themselves to me. It was really that easy. We all shared our interests, background, why we were at the event etc. They all knew each other, but my addition to the group didn’t seem out of place, and I felt comfortable right away.

I’m happy to report, that this particular networking dance has a great ending. It turns out, (lucky for me, or perfect serendipity), that one of the women in the group happened to be the moderator that evening, and employee of the very organization putting on the event, Mathys + Potestio. It just so happens, that this organization hires creative individuals for other organizations and businesses. Later in the week, I filled out an online application mentioning that I attended the RUNT event. I also sent an email to the woman I spoke with before the event, saying a quick hello, and attached my resume. I figured, maybe she would remember our brief encounter, and it certainly couldn’t hurt. I immediately received an email back asking if I would like to come into the office for a meet and greet!

Maybe my application was so amazing that I would have been called in regardless of my attending the event. However, I have a sneaking suspicion the fact that I took the time to attend RUNT, and the chance encounter with the employee prior to the event, may have been the very thing that pushed my application to the YES pile.

This incredible serendipitous evening may turn into a wonderful opportunity for me, (I shall keep you posted). Regardless of what happens however, I have learned a valuable lesson in actually meeting people during the “meet and greet” networking portion of events! Do you have a similar encouraging networking story? Tips that you would like to share in making networking more comfortable for those of us on the shy or timid side. Share below in the comments section!

Special thanks to the sponsors: PODS (Professional Outreach and Development for Students-Career Services @UO), and 10Barrel Brewing Company from Bend,OR. One can’t go wrong offering free delicious craft beer at an educational event!

Exploring Sauvie Island

My very favorite new sights and things to experience are natural areas. A visit to the woods, river, beach, anything that gets me outdoors! (I’m known to really love patios and rooftop bars/restaurants as well). So, it made perfect sense that my first outing on my year-long mission to explore something new every month, was a nearby trail that I’ve never hiked.

Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail

Sauvi Island Beach

Mentioned in the Portland Monthly magazine, July 2012 issue, this hike is located on the northern tip of Sauvie Island. The trail travels along the Columbia river to a still-functioning lighthouse.  The trail begins at the end of Reeder Road, after the road turns to dirt and you drive for several miles. Don’t worry, it really is at the end, just keep driving!

Sauvie Island is made of part rural farmland. This is where the pumpkin patches are, corn mazes, and all those great “you-pick” farms for yummy fruits and veggies. The northern part of the island (where this hike is located), is a wildlife refuge. Interestingly, hunting is allowed in this area during certain months as well (seems counter-intuitive, but it’s how it is).

We went on a Friday, blessed with beautiful blue skies and sunshine (something to be savored these winter months in this area), and the whole hike nearly to ourselves. We had our two dogs, and although signs say to leash them, it was a great place to let them run (plenty of beach-like sandy shores along the river). And they never came close to any animals, or disturbed the area.

Sauvi Island 2The day was crisp, and the forrest smelled fabulous. We saw several bird species, my favorite probably being the white egret, they are so majestic.  The Columbia river is such a sight to behold, it’s massive size warrants awe no matter how many times you visit. The end of the hike is a wonderful rocky outlet where the lighthouse sits. Down another half mile we saw glimpses of a marina, and several buildings. We determined it must be the town of St. Helens, though I’m not certain.

I like seeing the large ships travel down the river, so I felt lucky that a ship traveled by as we sat taking in the scenery. I think the Columbia river is an interesting juxtaposition of industrialization and mother nature, I love it.

Sauvie Island 3

Total hike distance: Approximately 6 miles (3 miles one-way)

Enjoying My Immediate Surroundings- A Year of Exploration!

I got bit by the travel bug when I was very young, and as my fellow travelers, adventurers and explorers can attest, I constantly crave new sights and experiences. I am nearly always up for going someplace new, always dreaming of my next big vacation, and I would love a career that provided me opportunities to visit new places and experience varying cultures.

I recently went on a hike in an area I had never been before (see Sauvie Island post). As I was walking, taking in the scenery and the beautiful sunny day, I realized I was just as excited to visit this area (not far from my home), as I was seeing a new spot on my recent vacation in Hawaii. This was such a powerful moment for me! I don’t have to travel thousands of miles to satisfy that itch to see something new.

I often think about the next town or city I would like to live in, moving around appeals to my sense of adventure. As of late, I’ve been longing for something new- thinking about attending graduate school in a different state, or accepting a job in another part of the country, but this is a time, for several reasons, that I need to hunker down a bit. So, I’ve decided I will explore my own backyard to continue my sense of wonder, appreciation, and excitement for my current surroundings. This is obviously not going to satiate my desire to visit new countries and experience different languages, cultures etc., but I can always go on vacation!

So, I am making a concerted effort to explore new places in the Portland Metro area and surrounding geography. My goal: visit a new place once a month! I would love your suggestions! Please leave them in your comment section below.

The Long Hiatus is Finally Over!

I haven’t written in more than a year, and I’m back! In my final year as a student at the University of Oregon, I wrapped up the two degrees I was working on, took on way too many internships trying to beef up that resume, and worked two jobs, all while raising my daughter as a single parent! Whew, no wonder I was burnt out! I had been working on my higher education the past 7 years (I’m one of those students), and frankly, I was tired when I graduated. I had big plans of moving to Portland, knowing all my dreams would fall into place just perfectly with little effort, well that didn’t “exactly” happen.

IMG_5963-My Daughter Hadlie and I – Willamette River Waterfront – Downtown Portland-

For several months I looked for work. In all those resumes and cover letters I sent out, I landed only two phone interviews, not making it to the next round with either one.

My hopeful, positive spirit, slowly got crushed as the weeks and months passed, with my dream job (or any job), simply not coming to fruition. I was in a tough place, 2011 was the middle of the recession and most people experienced some rough economic times. Jobs simply weren’t easy to come by (still aren’t). With every rejection letter, the employer would let me know I was a strong candidate for the position, but they received more than 200 applications. Being a recent graduate, I just couldn’t compete with years of experience other candidates had. I did FIVE internships in my senior year alone, I thought my resume would look great.

Alas, after five months of continual despair, and becoming incredibly discouraged, (it was supposed to be so easy), I bit the bullet and did the one thing I promised myself I would never do again, I blanketed the service industry with my resume. Yes, I would get a serving position. I was going broke following my career dreams, and I had to be realistic and pay the bills. Waiting tables is quick money, so it’s  easy to fall back on, and I had years of experience.

I was grateful to get a waitressing job fairly quickly at the Nite Hawk Diner in North Portland, just in time for Christmas! I worked this job for all of 2012. The plan was to work part time, and continue finding a career on the side. This happened some, but to be honest, I was burnt out on finding work. Waitressing for a year was kind of a nice break, so I took it.

As the months passed however, I found myself becoming more and more apathetic, and lacking  motivation. I recognized I was in a rut, so I made a rash decision to take a leave of absence from my job, and travel to Hawaii over the recent winter break.

This was the best thing for me! I returned refreshed, rejuvenated, motivated, encouraged, and passionate once again! I’ve been taking note of all the things I should have done in my job search before, and I will simply have to try harder this time around!IMG_6359

I loved my customers at the diner, and it was great to work for a small family business, they treated me well. What that sort of job will never provide me however, is a sense of purpose. There are far too many issues in this world that I care strongly about, and I have far too much passion in my heart to sit idly by, I want to be proud of what I’m doing! When I die, I want to be able to look back and think, yes I did all I could to make this world a little better.

I want my time, and energy put forth helping to solve the problems that I’m concerned about, and frankly, I don’t think my huge heart and multitude of talents should be wasted on performing work that I don’t fully enjoy, I want more!

So, I’m entering 2013 with a fresh outlook, positive attitude, and a fighting spirit. I’m taking measures to meet new people in the fields I’m interested in, researching more, getting my name out there; so eventually, businesses and organizations will be coming to me offering me positions! (Well, I may as well dream big).

I’m starting with my online presence. It’s essential these days, and I vow to be involved more.  I will be adding blog posts regularly, entering the twitter world daily, and cleaning up my profile in LinkedIn.

Wish me luck on this very exciting journey. I hope to get feedback from many of you as I travel through 2013. If nothing else, this post will keep me accountable.

%d bloggers like this: