Fall is not complete unless we’ve visited at least three pumpkin patches. At least. I love everything about them (except those diabolical corn-maze-pit-of-horror-things: Those are not G-rated, and therefore I am not allowed inside. Also, with the directional capabilities in my family, I would have to be airlifted out so they could close the maze at the end of the season).
But tractor rides, apple cider, orange-yellow-white-bumpy-smooth-princess pumpkins, farm animals, crisp air, muddy boots… oh be still my childish heart!
Here are our favorite west-side PDX spots.
32055 NW North Ave., North Plains, OR 97133
What’s awesome: There’s a little train AND a little steamboat that take you to the pumpkin patch. Seriously, what is better than riding a miniature train to a field and grabbing a giant pumpkin off the vine? The little sternwheeler even goes by a pirate and a Loch-Ness-monster-thing. Campy? Maybe. Hilarious? Yes. Awesome? More yes. Prices are reasonable, too ($4 ticket for round trip train/sternwheeler, plus cost of pumpkins).
16205 NW Gillihan Rd., Portland, OR 97231
What’s awesome: Crazy amount of pumpkin choices at good prices (plus they’re organic–yeah!!). There’s a covered picnic area with a miniature hay maze for little people and their freaked-out parents (freaked out by mazes, not parenting). This is where most of our misfit gourds came from last year: white pumpkins, deep orange with green, bumpy, big, small… yeah-ah!!! These squash serenaded me with their insidious squash songs and I couldn’t say no.
11453 NW Old Cornelius Pass Rd., Portland, OR 97231
What’s awesome: It’s like pumpkin-palooza around here. The farms store is filled with every gourd and gourd-like holiday gift-item, there’s a giant pumpkin launcher, there’s an indoor hay-bale picnic area, and there are adorable farm animals. Did I mention the giant tube slide? Oh, and the tractor ride, of course. Plus you can stop by Helvetia or Rock Creek Tavern on the way back. Prices here are a little spendier, I found, but still pretty reasonable.
15801 SW Roy Rogers Rd., Sherwood, OR 97140
The tractor ride here is awesome, and the pumpkin patch is in this little fairytale glade. The bummer is that the pumpkins are not on the vine. Normally that would knock a place off my list, but the enchanted glade is very Charlie-Brown-Great-Pumpkin-ish, the farm store often has local pies, there’s a fantastic play and picnic area, and the drive takes you through some beautiful Willamette Valley scenery.
What new spot should we try this year???
K-Pants has a pal we call Luke. You may remember Luke from his enormous, camouflaged brain. Or you may not.
Anyhow, Luke’s mother has a sardonic sense of humor, which I love. After finding out about a recent beach trip where their crew ended up hanging out at a local nudist beach, I asked her let me share the story.
[Editor’s note: This is Irna, Luke’s sister. She’s very into fashion. I thought you should meet her. Okay, on to the story….]
You can really see a lot of Portland on display if you visit Sauvie Island. Particularly if you inadvertently end up at the clothing-optional beach.
I followed a friend’s recommendation and since the clothing-optional and clothing-required beaches are adjacent to one another, it’s easy to land in the wrong spot.
In our defense, I’ll say that when we got there it was overcast, windy and everyone there was fully clothed.
Of the many things I’ve learned about public nudity, the first is that it is an activity people ease into. Secondly, nude beaches seem to appeal exclusively to men over fifty. Thirdly, it involves a lot of standing around, presumably to avoid sand entrapment in unfortunate places (but given that the problem could be remedied with a bathing suit, I can only guess the purpose of standing is to obtain the full effect of the resulting exhibition).
The kids didn’t much notice, although Irna (our own resident nudist) would occasionally look up from her work, laugh–and say, “Naked.”
I think it actually was a great beach, but I spent most of my time politely averting my eyes.
By the end of our outing, the clouds had burned off, and the sun was out, and suddenly, we were outflanked by… flanks.
We packed up our gear, the kids bringing half of the beach’s sand with them, and started for the car. As we left, some of the more inhibited patrons began dropping trou–probably having spent the last two hours wondering why we were there and what social convention dictated when a fully clothed family takes over your nudist beach.
I asked Irna at bedtime what her favorite part of the day was and she mimicked a “thinking about it” face, complete with, “hmm” expressions.
It’s adorable, you should see it.
Anyway, she gave a three word reply, “Park. Naked. Grandpa.”
So, yeah. We’ll be more careful where we set up shop next time.
A note on Irna’s name:
The online pseudonym for my daughter came to me in a dream following Evelyn’s invitation to post on her blog. My dream self was very insistent that the spelling was I-r-n-a and pronounced “Eirene,” like a character in the HBO series Rome (and according to Google, the Greek goddess of peace). This proves that, at least in my specific case, the subconscious mind is neither imbued with any particular wisdom nor is it a super great speller.