Thursday, September 30, 2010

October Occurrences

This is my list of free and low cost events around the greater Portland area.  I look for events that have some educational or cultural value.  I compile this list for my homeschool group, which includes kids 7 and under, but most events have much wider appeal.  Please double check any event you'd like to attend in case of mistakes or cancellations.

In October, we celebrate Halloween, the Day of the Dead, and Diwali, and haunted houses, pumpkin patches, and corn mazes are in full swing.  Check here for a list of local farms with special fall events:  This is also the time to go apple and pear picking.  Another site with lots of local farms is

An Iliad”, a modern telling of Homer’s famous poem, is being performed by Portland Center Stage.  Not low cost, but I'm including it anyway in case it's perfect for your child's classical studies.

59th Annual Greek Festival”, October 1, 2, and 3, 10am to 10pm Friday and Saturday, Noon to 8pm on Sunday, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 3131 NE Gilsan St., Pdx. “Immigrants from Greece began arriving to the Northwest in the late 1800s to work in fishing, lumber, railroad and other jobs. Settling in Portland they established their church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in southeast Portland. Moving to a new and larger church on 32nd and NE Glisan in 1952, the mortgage had to be paid off. The ladies decided to help by holding a bazaar with their handwork, food, pastries, music and dances from their homeland. This was the beginning of what is now known as the Annual Greek Festival which is one of the largest of its kind. The Greek Festival remains a wonderful opportunity for us to share annually with over 15,000 guests from the Portland Metropolitan area our beautiful Greek Orthodox faith, our cherished cultural traditions, food, music, and dance.”

Open House at the Oregon Historical Society”, 1200 SW Park Avenue, Pdx. Free admission and programs Friday, October 1 - Friday, October 8 during regular hours. “Celebrate your history! In conjunction with the Oregon Cultural Trust's Days of Culture, OHS is hosting an open house during the first week of October. Explore the Oregon Historical Society’s Museum and Research Library for free! Take guided tours of our permanent exhibit, Oregon My Oregon, Tuesday – Friday, and celebrate Oregon with special free week programming. Schedule of events for Friday, October 1 are as follows: View a display from the Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers 
Take a walk through our newest exhibit, Exposicion Gabriel Figueroa

5:45 – 6:00 PM: Northwest Chinese Academy Dancers perform
6:00 – 6:15 PM: Dance performance by Ballet Folklorico
6:30 PM: Remarks by OHS Executive Director George Vogt and Kimberly Howard, Trust Manager, from the Oregon Cultural Trust
6:45 PM: Cake is served!
7:00 – 7:15 PM: Dance performance by Ballet Folklorico
7:15 PM: Guided Tour of Oregon My Oregon.   Check  for more updates on special events to be added.

"Pop Up Now!
An International Exhibition of Movable Artist Books, on now through October 30, with an artist’s reception during First Friday, October 1. 5-8PM.  Regular Gallery hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Noon to 6:00 p.m. and they are always open late on First Thursday and First Friday.  The gallery is located at 623 NE 23rd Avenue, just three doors north of Sandy Boulevard. “Pop-up books captivate and excite the child in all of us. They come to life as three-dimensional works of art hidden inside the pages of a book. Pop-Up Now! will feature handmade artist books that pop-up, move, slide, twirl, whirl, light up, or even sound off.” 

Leaf Art”, Friday, October 1, 4PM at Kenton Library, Saturday, October 9, 10:30AM at Capitol Hill Library (Space at this program is limited. Free tickets for seating will be available 30 minutes prior to the program.) and Saturday, October 9, 2PM at the Central Library.  “If you love nature walks, this workshop is for you! You will learn how to identify and press autumn leaves, and then create your own pictures with their colors and shapes. Look at the creatures and landscapes in "Leaf Man" (Lois Ehlert) and "Look What I Did with a Leaf!" (Morteza E. Sohi) and decide how to compose your leaf picture.”

“Trashcan Joe”,
Saturday, October 2, 2PM, at Ledding Library of Milwaukie. They are awesome! They make music with instruments made out of trash cans! What more can I say? I called the library to confirm this show, because it is missing from their website.

“Smith And Bybee Wetlands/St. Johns Landfill Tour”, Saturday, October 2, 9AM-12PM. St. Johns Landfill, gate entrance 9387 N. Columbia Blvd., Pdx. Explore the former site of the St. Johns Landfill as part of a guided tour and enjoy the unique vantage point it provides on Smith and Bybee Wetlands. Although this restoration-in-progress is rarely open to the public, guided 40-minute tours of the site are offered at 9:30 a.m. and at 10:30 a.m. Space is limited; arrive early to reserve a place on the tour bus. This is a family-friendly event, suitable for all ages. Coffee and pastries provided. 

“Champoeg Apple Harvest Day
”, Saturday, October 2, 1-4PM, Champoeg State Park. “
The bounty of the harvest will be the theme for this day as your family enjoys fresh-pressed apple cider, apple butter, desserts cooked in a Dutch oven, garden produce to purchase, and more.”

Silver Falls Talks & Hikes”, Oct 2, 2PM at Silver Falls State Park. “A Walk Through History. Native peoples, loggers, townspeople, a daredevil, a photographer, and hundreds of young, willing CCC hands all have a part in the rich history of Silver Falls. Half mile, one hour, ADA accessible.”

Old Apple Tree Festival”, Saturday, October 2, 11AM-4PM, Old Apple Tree Park, 112 Columbia Way, Vancouver, WA. “The annual Old Apple Tree Festival is a celebration centered on the oldest living apple tree in the Northwest, planted at Fort Vancouver in 1826. Old Apple Tree Park, located on Columbia Way just east of Interstate 5 Bridge, will host the festival on Saturday, October 2 from 11am to 4pm. Providing family fun, food and history of Vancouer's Old Apple Tree, the festival celebrates our community's legacy. Throughout the day Urban Forestry Commissioners give away Washington-grown apples and cuttings from the Old Apple Tree. This is a free, family friendly event with activities and games for children, fruit tree pruning workshops, live music and food.”

Oregon Shadow Theatre presents, “Jack and the Dragon”, Saturday, October 2, 2PM, Three Creeks Community Library, 800-C NE Tenney Road, Vancouver, WA. “There are many stories about Jack and his Ma in the Appalachian Mountains. In this fairy tale, after swatting 7 flies at one whack, Jack is hired by the King to hunt some pesky varmints, like a Giant Hog and a Unicorn, before he has to face the meanest varmint of all. He still finds time to kick up his heels with the King's daughter at a barn dance. Colorful shadow puppets, live old time American banjo and dulcimer music and a barrel of laughs send Jack and the Dragon running down the hollow.”

19th Annual Mount Hood Salmon & Mushroom Festival” October 2, (Saturday), 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and October 3, (Sunday) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mt. Hood Village, 65000 East U.S. Highway 26 (near the Village of Brightwood snuggled in the foothills of Mount Hood). “Free admission! Free parking! Two of the Northwest's greatest bounties are the Salmon and Wild Mushrooms, which are the honored celebrities at this festival, is featured at this 19th annual event. This two-day, family-oriented event is held during the month of October to welcome home the return of the Salmon to the streams of Oregon's Mount Hood and the Wild Mushrooms to its forested landscapes. Featured is Native American storytelling, original Folk music, arts and crafts, exhibits on Salmon and Wild Mushrooms (including Mushroom identification), and great food. There is a Native American Salmon bake and Salmon Habitat Walks, and Wild Mushrooms on sale. A scarecrow-making contest will take place on both days. The majority of the annual Mount Hood Salmon & Mushroom Festival will be held indoors, with the remainder beneath shelters and two large tents, so weather conditions will not be a dependent factor.” 

"Vernonia Salmon Festival”, Saturday, October 2, 10AM-6PM., in Hawkins park, Located at at the end of Park Drive in downtown Vernonia, OR. Eighth annual festival features scarecrow stuffing, pumpkin carving, kids trout pond, covered-wagon rides to salmon spawning sites around town, live music, farmers market and more. Along the banks of Rock Creek in Hawkins Park.

“Young Audiences Artist Showcase
”, Sunday, October 3, 1-5PM, Buckman Elementary School, 320 SE 16th Ave, Pdx, free, families welcome. This event is aimed at educators. Young Audiences is an organization that represents artists and helps bring them into schools. They have amazing offerings, many at quite reasonable prices, and I would be surprised if a clever homeschool group couldn’t work with them as well. Their website has details on classes that are offered. This is an opportunity to see some of what they offer. “What magical place presents an array of artistic delights, from classical Indian dance, storytelling and cello performances to fused glass, songwriting and circus arts mini-workshops? Why it's the 2nd annual Young Audiences Artist Showcase! Audience members will meet Young Audiences’ teaching artists, and check out their sampler performances and mini-workshops. The free event provides a fun and engaging opportunity to begin planning arts experiences for school communities.” There will be 18 five-minute performances between 1:30- 4:30.

"Oregon's only Lego Swap Meet", held on the first Sunday of every month starting October 3, 2010 in Oregon City. 10 AM - 3:00 PM. Adults $2.00 and children 5-12 $1.00. Buy, Sell, Consign and Trade your Legos all in one place! Event takes place at the Renaissance Ballroom Dance Studios, 610 McLoughlin Blvd. Oregon City. Directions at: Exhibits, Door Prizes, Consignment Table, Free parking, Mini Fig building station, Food Stand . Thousands of Mini Figs on sale. Meet other Lego enthusiast in a safe and relaxed environment. Plenty of tables to sit and chat. Kids, bring your Legos to the show. Small amounts and large amounts welcome. Plenty of buyers on hand. Lots of opportunities to sell, buy and trade. Brought to you by North West Legos Users Group 503-360-8095

Professor Banjo”, “EVERY MONDAY at 11am - Start your week off right! Professor Banjo plays at Milagros Boutique (5433 NE 30th Ave.) Just $3 per walking human.” Highly recommended!

Meet Author Mo Willems”, Monday October 4, 6:30 PM, Barnes & Noble, Clackamas Town Center Mall. “Join us to welcome three-time Caldecott Award winner and six-time Emmy Award winner Mo Willems to our store as he presents his new book for kids, Knuffle Bunny Free. Willems is also the author of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and many others.”

komedy 4 da kids”, Wednesday, October 6, 3PM at Midland Library. “Angel Ocasio presents a bilingual and interactive performance combining physical comedy, juggling, balancing and magic.”

Symphony Storytime”, Wednesdays, October 6, 13, 20, & 27 at 12:15 PM, Rockwood Library. “Storytimes feature musicians from the Oregon Symphony performing music that enhances and deepens the storytelling experience. Each storytime features one of the four families of musical instruments: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. A craft session where children make their own instruments out of common household items and an instrument petting zoo follow the storytimes. Children and their parents also receive a specially made bookmark with suggested reading and recommended CD's featuring the storytime instruments. 

"Hands-on science for homeschoolers", Thursday, October 7 & 21 at 1:30pm. at the Ledding Library in Milwaukie. Hands-on science experiments for ages 5 & up. I called the Ledding Library for more information on this program, and they explained that they are doing these classes themselves and currently are planning to cover gravity on the 7th and floating on the 21st. No preregistration is required.

Hillsboro Fire Department Visit”, Friday, October 8, 10:30AM, Hillsboro Shute Park Library Branch (attendance limited to 40) and again at 1PM at the Hillsboro Main Library (attendance limited to 60). “It's Fire Prevention Week! Children ages 4 to 8 can come to the library to hear stories, meet Hillsboro Dept. firefighters, see the fire trucks and learn about fire safety! Children must be accompanied by a parent or adult caregiver.”

Mad Science Presents: Spin! Pop! Boom!”, Friday, October 8, 12PM at the Portland Children’s Museum. “Show is free with paid admission. Admission is $8 per person ages 1+. Adults must be accompanied by children. How do you know that a chemical reaction has occurred? Start with a change of color in our chemically challenging “magic” trick. Move on to an assortment of experiments featuring both chemical and physical changes. Watch in awe as the Mad Scientist creates numerous versions of erupting science! Everything is guaranteed to be amazing!”

Genius Guitar Duo”, Friday, October 8, 7PM, at Cedar Mill Community Library. “This newly formed Portland-based ensemble will perform in the library's upstairs meeting room in honor of Oregon's Days of Culture. Its members, Foti Lycouridis and Hideki Yamaya, are not only performers but also devoted teachers and researchers of the development of the guitar and lute families throughout the ages. The concert will feature period instruments from the 19th century with 6, 7, and 10 strings.”

Family Clay Nights”, Fridays beginning October 8-December 10, from 6PM-8:30PM, Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy., Pdx. No preregistration required. “Come as a family and play with clay! $10/hr per adult and child pair. $4/hr for each additional child. Includes glazes, firings, and 5 lbs of clay. Not for solo participants. This is an adult and child activity. Use of the potter’s wheel by instructor approval only. Pay at Multnomah Arts Center office.”

Fall Kite Festival”, Saturday, October 9, and Sunday, October 10, 10AM-4PM, D-River State Wayside, Lincoln City, OR. “Kitefliers from across the Northwest will be gathered at the D-River State Wayside for the 32nd annual Fall Kite Festival in Lincoln City, Oregon. A celebration of both professional and leisure kite fliers with some of the most colorful big "show kites" in the world. The theme for the 2010 kite season is ‘Quad-Zilla!’ The featured fliers at the festival will demonstrate their flying skills throughout the weekend. Team Island Quad will be the center of attention with their Revolution quad-line kites. At the festival we will have a mega fly of quad-line kites. If you have always wanted to fly in a grid, this is your chance. We will also mic the lead kiteflier, Terry Wiggill, so the audience will have a chance to experience how the grid is worked. It should be a lot of fun to see all the kites in the sky at the same time. During our Summer Kite Festival we had a mega fly of 29 kites, let's see if we can make it larger!”

Brick Builders”, Saturday, October 9, 10:30AM at Beaverton City Library Storytime Room. “Come and make a connection as we create, build and challenge with all things LEGO. Registration is required. Please phone (503)350-3600 to register or sign-up in person at the Children's Desk on the first floor of the library. Registration for each session begins one month before the program.” Suggested for grades 1-5.

Molalla Apple Festival”, Saturday, October 9. 10AM-4PM. “Experience Molalla’s proud pioneering heritage as you tour the historic Dibble and Von der Ahe Houses during the Apple Festival. The museum complex is located at 620 S. Molalla Avenue. Several local bands will provide music which will be enjoyed by all ages. There will also be demonstrations of historic craft making, apple pressing and butter churning. You may purchase homemade pies by the slice (with ice cream generously donated by Safeway) and homemade caramel apples and Baughman Farms cider.”

The ‘I Love to Read Magic Show’ with Jay Frasier”, Saturday, October 9, 11:00 a.m, Lake Oswego Public Library. “ ‘Magic is a wonderful art form. It reminds us that there is mystery and wonder in the world around us. I have loved magic since I was four years old and someone showed me a card trick. I hope to give my audiences the same feeling of astonishment I felt…I oftentimes have kids literally rolling on the floor with laughter during my shows.’ Frasier’s shows are a combination of sleight-of-hand, physical comedy, and audience participation that results in a unique entertainment experience. The recipient of the Dom Deluise Comedy Magic Scholarship, Frasier is an accomplished magician, balloon sculptor, and educator. Genii magazine included him in a collection of the country’s top children’s performers. He’s a full-time speech communication instructor at Lane Community College in Eugene.”

Mushroom ID Clinic”, Saturday, October 9, Saturday, October 30, and Saturday, November 13, 12PM at the Estacada Public Library. “Mushroom hunting season is here! Identification sessions with Jake Hurlbert, MS, Educational Mycologist for the Pacific Northwest Mycological Society will take place October 9 at 12 noon in the library lobby, and Oct. 30 and Nov. 13 at 12 noon in the Flora Room. Bring the mushrooms you’ve found on the hunt and have them identified by an expert. This program is FREE.” So if you got up early that day and had a mushroom hunt in Milo McIver State Park, you could try identifying your finds and then verifying them at the library. (I checked with Oregon State Parks, and it is legal to collect edible mushrooms for personal use in state parks.)

Dogs At Work”, Saturday, October 9, 2:30PM at Hillsboro Main Library. “Elementary school-age kids -- come meet dogs that have jobs and hear their human coworkers describe the work they do.”

Portland Open Studios Tour”, all artists participating on October 9, 10, 16 and 17 from 10-5. “During the Portland Open Studios tour, each Tour Guide ($18) serves as your ticket for 2 adults on all 4 days (supervised children through high school are free) and includes a map & directions to the studios, pictures of artworks by all artists, contact information for all artists, and a 2011 calendar. On the tour you will see a diverse group of 100 artists working in their chosen media—painting, sculpting, blowing glass and much more. You will meet emerging artists in their 20s and 30s as well as mid-career and well-established artists from all over the United States and the world who have chosen to live and work in the Portland metro area.” You can buy a tour guide online or at a local retailer, including New Seasons, Art Media, Powells, and many local galleries, frame shops, and art supply stores.

Ceramic Painting”, Saturday, October 9, 2:30PM-4:30PM, Gresham Library, Saturday, October 16, 1PM-3PM, St. Johns Library (registration required, call 503-988-5397), and Saturday, October 23, 2-4PM, Northwest Library. “Get your paint on while celebrating fall with ceramic artist Terri Jones. Paint molds of animals, objects and shapes that Terri casts from liquid clay. Terri provides everything you need to create a beautiful work of art. No artistic talent required.”

Fun With Brazilian Music: Water Songs and Rhythm”, Saturday, October 9, 4PM, Woodstock Library. “Be a part of the lively rhythms of Brazilian music! Move, play percussion instruments, and make up your own creative sounds along with guitarist/percussionist/ singer/songwriter Ronnie Robins. You will learn about many different instruments and get to play along with Ronnie. Small percussion instruments will be provided. Songs that are about water, including rain, rivers and oceans, will be featured.”

Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery historic tour”, Saturday, October 9, 10AM-12PM, Suggested donation of $10 requested; all proceeds go to headstone restoration and educational programs. “Come for an informal history lesson while enjoying the beauty and tranquility of Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery in SE Portland. Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery conducts monthly tours, highlighting Portland’s founders, pioneers, its famous and infamous alike, as well as interesting headstones and monuments. Come visit this hidden jewel! Explore 30 acres of mature trees, a very special rose garden and fascinating architecture in this unique place, the only cemetery in Portland listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Suitable for all ages. No advance registration required. Wheel chair accessible by arrangement. Meet in the center of the cemetery, at the soldiers’ monument. Cemetery entrance moved to SE 26th between Stark and Morrison Streets.”

Fall nature walk through downtown Gresham”, Saturday, October 9, 0:30 am - 11:30 am, Start and end at Farmers Market at Miller Street and 3rd Avenue. “Explore the natural world that we often don’t notice, tucked into the urban environment around us. Learn what’s going on as plants and animals prepare for winter.”

Portland Underground Ghost Tours”, various dates in October, 1 ½ hours, starting at Hobo's Restaurant, 120 NW 3rd Ave, Pdx. Adults are $17 and kids 5-11 are $12. “ Halloween tours begin in the month of October and are offered through the first week of November. This is an extended ghost tour that still includes the history of Shanghaing in Portland and the “Shanghai Tunnels” (the infamous “Portland Underground”), but it also includes information not discussed during our regular tours. This is not a spook house, but is a very fun, interesting, and educational tour that has proven itself to be extremely popular and generally sells out. Please book early! This is a great family event!

Internation Celebration Day”, Sunday, October 10, 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM, Tigard Public Library-Community Room. “Three musical performances from different cultures will brighten your Sunday afternoon. Ronnie Robins will kick off the day at Noon with his jazz samba group. Then Giti Najafi offers Persian instrumental music and dance at 2:30 p.m. Andean Flute will provide the haunting sounds of Andean flute music at 4:30 p.m. Snacks from other countries will be served during the intermissions. Come for one performance or stay all afternoon.”

Tears of Joy Theatre presents The Lazy Bee”, Monday, October 11, 12PM, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Antionette Hatfield Hall Rotunda Lobby, 1111 SW Broadway Ave., Pdx, free. “Portland's Tears of Joy Theatre (puppet theatre) presents The Lazy Bee, a fable from Argentina. It’s the tale of Haragana, a fun-loving but very lazy bee, who must face the consequences of refusing to do her share of the work. This bilingual presentation will charm children and adults alike. Spoiler alert! Cinderella and her stepsisters will make a “surprise” guest appearance.”

Rock 'N' Roll Kindy with Mo Phillips”, Tuesday, October 12, 7PM, Tigard Public Library - Community Room. “Families are invited to join musician Mo Phillips for a chance to form a super crazy onetime band that will write, perform and record a couple of tunes in about an hour. Don't think we can pull it off? Check out the music page at and listen to some of the crazy cuts from past Rock ‘N’ Roll Kindy shows!”

Portland Actor’s Ensemble will be presenting a series of staged readings of Shakespeare as a fundraiser for the 2011 season. They begin October 14 and the last one is October 24, and the cost is $15 for adults, $50 for 4 tickets for any combination of people or shows, children and students are free. Performances will be at the Fine Arts Building at Concordia University, near NE 27th Ave. and NE Highland St. Included are “A Winter’s Tale”, “The Tragedie of Anthony and Cleopatra”, “The Tale of Cymbeline”, and “All is True: The Famous History of the life of King Henry VIII.”

A Walk in the Old Growth”, Thursday, October 14, 9AM-12PM. “Hikes are free for members of the Forest Park Conservancy. If you are not a current member, please join FPC or renew your membership today. Non-members are encouraged to join (only $35/year), but are also welcome to participate at a cost of $10 per person per hike. You can submit registration fees online, or bring cash or check to the hike. Hike through a nearby grove of low elevation old growth forest with a naturalist and environmental educator. Along the way, we will discuss the natural history of the area and learn more about the old growth ecosystem. We will spend a bit of time in the grove, discussing the natural and human history of the forest. With luck, we may spot one of the bald eagles nesting on the property. In terms of distance, the hike amounts to 3 or so miles of hiking over rolling terrain, with minimal elevation gain.”

Fall Decorations In Origami”, Saturday, October 16, 1PM at Sellwood-Moreland Library, Saturday, October 23, 2:30PM at Gresham Library, and Saturday, October 30, 2PM, at Holgate Library. “Create unique origami decorations for fall. Learn how to make a life-size pumpkin in origami, using orange butcher paper. You will also learn to make origami bats, ghosts, and other fall-themed characters. Come transform an ordinary piece of paper into a three-dimensional form.”

Fish Prints”, Saturday, October 16, 2PM at Albina Library. “Create your own relief print with artist Kathryn Menard. Use a variety of colors to produce a unique piece of art. Recommended for children 6 years and older.”

Salmon homecoming at Oxbow”, Oct. 16, 17, 23 and 24, park entry fee is $5/vehicle. “Spicy scents of autumn trees, giant golden leaves on maples, silvery chatter of water ouzels in the river and kinglets in the conifers. These are the smells, sights and sounds of Oxbow Regional Park in the autumn. Witness the return of wild salmon to one of the Pacific Northwest's premier rivers – the glacier-fed Sandy – just 45 minutes from downtown Portland. On the third and fourth weekends in October, enjoy viewing salmon on both Saturdays and Sundays. Salmon viewing
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Naturalists are on hand at the river's edge to help spot spawning salmon and interpret their behavior and life cycle. Special salmon-viewing glasses are available on loan. Salmon viewing proceeds rain or shine. The trail is unpaved and fairly level; wear good walking shoes. Inquire at the entry booth for starting location of the salmon viewing, then follow the signs to the salmon! Suitable for all ages.”

Sunday, October 17 , from 10AM- 1PM there will also be an Animal Tracking Workshop at Oxbow, $10, preregistration required. “Oxbow Regional Park is rich in tracks at this time of year, when beaver, otter, fox, mink, mouse and deer often leave clear footprints in the sand. With practice, you can learn to read the ground like an open book. You will also learn to make plaster casts of animal tracks. Local tracker Terry Kem will introduce you to the basics of track identification and interpretation and the awareness and stealth skills needed to watch wildlife at close range. Suitable for adults and families. Bring a snack and meet at the floodplain parking area. Registration and a $10 fee required in advance. There is a $5 per vehicle entry fee, payable at the gate.” To register, call 503-797-1650 option 2 or register online at

Fall Heirloom Apple Tasting”, Sunday, October 17, 11AM-4PM, Old Venersborg School House, 24317 NE 209th St, Battle Ground, WA. A video of this annual event is here:

Kids in Nature: Spider Extravaganza”, Sunday, October 17, 2010, 10:00am - 11:30am, Tryon Creek State Park, $10, preregistration required. “Join the friends of Tryon creek to learn about spiders, explore the park to find unusual spider homes, make a giant web and hold a real tarantula. Have a great time learning to appreciate these amazing creatures.” Recommended for ages 4-7. Preregistration required.

Wildlife in the City”, October 19, 2010 — 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM, Concordia University, Luther Hall Room 121, “James Davis, Metro Naturalist, will discuss the wildlife, including eagles, otters, and beavers, living in urban landscapes and how to observe them. Davis is the author of the Northwest Nature Guide. This event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Environmental Stewardship Speaker Series and the College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences.”

Owl Prowl”, Friday, October 22, 7-9PM, Whitaker Ponds, 7040 NE 47th Ave, Pdx. “Have little owlets at home that would love to learn about nighttime predators? Bring your family (kids aged 5-12 with at least one adult) for a free classroom talk and evening hike all about owls. With luck (and a little practice hooting) we might even hear the nesting pair of Great Horned Owls at Whitaker Ponds. Space is limited to 15 people. Preregister here:

"Nighttime Hoots and Howls”, Saturday, October 23, 6-8PM. Cost is $2/person, $5/family. “Meet PP&R naturalists for a walk under the full moon at a park near you (see below). Hear the chirps of birds settling in for the night, the hoots of owls as they search for prey, and the mysterious sounds of nighttime animal activity. This nighttime stroll is suitable for families, however children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Please have babies in a sling or backpack. We will be using our night vision, but bring a flashlight. Dress for the weather - rain or moonshine! Registration is required. To register please call 503-823-2525. Whitaker Ponds Natural Area, course #336155
; Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, course #336156
; Hoyt Arboretum, course #336157;
 Gabriel Park, course #336158.”

Night Flight 2010”, Oct 23, from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm, Portland Audubon Society, 5151 NW Cornell Rd, Pdx. $12.50 per person covers registration and participation for the first member of your group, $10.00 for each additional member. (Recommended for kids 5 – 12). “Come celebrate Halloween and learn all about the creatures of the night. Come face-to-face with Portland Audubon’s Great Horned Owl, Northern Spotted Owl, Turkey Vulture and Raven. Trick or treat with naturalists and enjoy a night walk to investigate what creatures haunt the sanctuary at night. Event will be held rain or shine. Pre-registration is required. You can register on-line or call 503-292-6855 for more information. Space is limited for event and night walks so register early! When you register please indicate your preferred night walk time.”

Mask Exploration”, Saturday, October 23, 11AM, North Portland Library. “Artist Sarah Ferguson shows you how to create bright, colorful masks using recycled and found objects.” Registration required. Register here:

Diwali Festival of Lights Celebration”, Saturday, October 23, 6PM-10PM, Tigard High School, 9000 SW Durham Rd., Tigard, OR. Adults- $14 in advance, $16 at the door, $8 children ages 2+ and students, children under 2 free. (You might also like the Diwali craft ideas here: .)

Day of the Dead Traditions and Crafts”, Sunday, October 24, 2:30PM, Troutdale Library. “Celebrated in Mexico and in Hispanic-American communities, the festival of Día de los Muertos is a traditional celebration that honors the dead who are believed to be reunited with the living every year at the beginning of November. Learn about the symbolism of a Day of the Dead altar, and help us decorate skeletons to adorn it! You may also bring a photo of a person or pet you wish to remember. In English and Spanish.”

Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower”, Sunday, October 24, doors open at 12PM and show begins at 1PM, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi, PDX. Tickets are $10 a person or $35 for a family of four. If you don’t know Elizabeth Mitchell’s amazing children’s music, check it out!

Lego Construction Zone”, Sunday, October 24, 1:30 PM, Tigard Public Library - Puett Room. “Drop in to work on your creations with other LEGO® fans. We'll supply the building blocks; you bring your creativity.” Suggested for ages 5 and up.

Mudeye Puppets Presents: Open Studio Build Night”, Tuesday, October 26, 5:30-7:30PM, free. “We'd love to have you at our next Open Studio Build Night on Tuesday, August 24th from 5:30 to 7:30. Come be Mudeye masters! Wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy and we’ll teach you some tricks of the trade. Please RSVP if you plan on coming. Email or call 503-805-0291. Children and friends are welcome! Our address is: 6635 N. Baltimore Ave, Suite 237 Portland, OR 97203 It's tricky to navigate the building. Please call if you get lost!”

Tall Trees and Toadstools”, Thursday, October 28, 9AM-12PM. “Hikes are free for members of the Forest Park Conservancy. If you are not a current member, please join FPC or renew your membership today. Non-members are encouraged to join (only $35/year), but are also welcome to participate at a cost of $10 per person per hike. You can submit registration fees online, or bring cash or check to the hike. This is a hike through and ancient old growth forest which is owned by the Forest Park Conservatory and is not part of the publicly owned Forest Park. It’s a three mile hike, and the first and last mile are over an old logging road to access the old growth forest. Along the way, you will learn all about forest ecology and see lots of mushrooms.”

OMSI Teacher Open House”, October 28, 3-8PM. “Experience a science sampler while checking out the latest at OMSI! Explore the newest exhibits, including Identity: An Exhibition of You and Design Zone: Behind the Scenes. Also don't miss SAMSON: The Colossal T. rex Discovery and watch a presentation on Science On a Sphere. Interact with OMSI educators, participate in dynamic programming, and witness exciting demonstrations. We will also have program representatives available to assist with planning your activities for the year. Free events for pre-registered teachers include museum admission, OMNIMAX films, Kendall Planetarium shows, and USS Blueback submarine tours!” I have been told that this event is homeschool friendly. A free teacher ID can be downloaded here (if you register as a site user): More info about the open house and online registration here:

Day of the Dead: Stories and Songs of Mexico
”, Friday, October 29, 3PM, St. John’s Library. “Throughout the centuries, indigenous people of Mexico have created their own rhythms, sounds and instruments. Over the years, some of this music has retained its traditional form while some has evolved over time. Nuestro Canto has gathered music from Nahuas, Purepechas, Serus, Mayas and Zapotecos to perform in its original form and language with ancient and native instruments. This program will combine stories and indigenous songs about Day of the Dead and will teach the audience about the history of this celebration.”

Halloween Party with Magician Bob Eaton”, Saturday, October 30, 2PM at Milwaukie Ledding Library. “Magician Bob Eaton presents not-so-spooky magic for all ages. Costumes welcome!”

Sugar Skulls”, Sunday, October 31, 1PM, Rockwood Library. “In this hands-on workshop, students will learn about the Day of the Dead celebration and its traditions. Participants will paint their own edible sugar skull and dedicate it to an ancestor or loved one. Why sugar? Throughout Mexico, Day of the Dead is a celebration of joyful remembrance, and the sweetness of sugar reminds us of joy. Help to create a community alter in honor of your ancestors.” Presented by Grupo Condor. Registration required. Register here on October 10:

Sixth Annual Tour of Untimely Departures”, Sunday, October 31, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetary. Admission is $10/adult or $15/family (parents with children under 12). Advance tickets will be available near event date. “Meet some of Lone Fir’s “residents” at their graves and hear the unusual circumstances surrounding their untimely departures. Ghostly guides will also share some of the history on Lone Fir as they take you through the cemetery on a path lit with candles. Two separate tours of approximately 45 minutes in length will be running constantly throughout the evening to accommodate our maximum capacity of 2000 visitors. Dress for the weather; the Tour happens rain or moon-shine. Entrance on SE 26th off Stark.“

Hansel and Gretel- Portland Opera Preview”, Sunday, October 31, 2PM, at the Central Library, Collins Gallery, 3rd Floor. For all ages. “Lecture/concert covers historical background, composer information and musical selections. Conductor, vocal coach, and pianist, Rob Ainsley is the Associate Music Director & Chorus Master for Portland Opera. Hailing from England, he earned at Bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Cambridge and a Master of Music in piano performance from Mannes College of Music, in New York City. He joined the Company in late summer 2006. Previously he was the coach and pianist for the Lindemann Young Artist Program for the Metropolitan Opera. He is also the co-founder and principal conductor of the Greenwich Music Festival in Connecticut.”

Mudeye Puppets Presents a Halloween Show and Creature Making Workshop”, Sunday, October 31. “Come see "Gourdy Pumpernickel's Harvest Surprise" followed by creature making, Halloween slime, and treats. This will be a day time event, specific location and times to be announced. $5 Kids $8 Adults.”

Dragon Theatre Puppets presents Rapunzel Redeems Rumpelstiltskin”, Sunday, October 31, Performed at the Lake Oswego Harvest Festival, Millennium Park Plaza. Show starts between 4:00pm and 4:30pm. Festival runs 3:30-6:00pm. Dragon Theatre Puppets are fabulous! Check them out.

Monument Geyser Basin

While we were visiting Yellowstone National Park, we ran into a bit of a dilemma.  The park's most spectacular areas are its unique geothermal features, all inside a volcanic caldera.  Roads were built to most of these features beginning before the park had any federal protection (and fear for the destruction of these features lead to the creation of the world's first national park system).  Parking areas are convenient, and boardwalks have been built to keep park visitors safe.  Venturing away from the trail is a very bad idea.  The ground can reach over 200 degrees, can be acidic enough to eat away at the soles of your shoes, and can cave in or erupt without warning.  I was reminded of this when my husband took Jasper back to revisit a mudpot Jasper had particularly admired, and I decided to rest and enjoy the view.  I sat down just beside the trail, only to rapidly discover that the dirt under me was very warm, and hot steam was breathing on my ankle from a fumarole!  Hiking in the backcountry has its hazards as well.  Cougars, wolves, black bears, and grizzly bears have to be taken into account.  Still, staying on the well beaten path soon makes me feel a bit like a hamster in a habitrail. 

We decided to solve this with a day hike, and chose Monument Geyser Basin.  We decided to start mid-afternoon, when bears are generally enjoying a nap.  Fortunately our little chatterbox must have warned all the wildlife for miles around of our presence, and we saw no signs of bears.  The trail was completely deserted, so for the first time we got to be alone in Yellowstone.  The trail goes steeply uphill for a couple of miles, through an area that must have burnt to the ground roughly 8 years ago.  The trees are young and relatively thin, providing excellent visibility and gorgeous panoramic views.  It arrives at the peak where there is a "dormant" geyser basin, hissing steam skyward through strange conical formations.  We were joyfully free to discover it all by ourselves.    Although there were days when we got to see many more incredible sights, our visit to Monument Geyser Basin was my favorite afternoon. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More Pictures from Yellowstone

Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone is both a completely unearthly and alien landscape, and a reminder of the devastating forces that lie unseen under the earth.  Much of the park lies within a volcanic caldera which last erupted roughly 640,000 years ago, and signs show it will erupt again.  Rather than being on a fault line, Yellowstone instead lies on a hot spot in the earth's crust, which has been stationary as the continent has drifted slowly above it.  Once the hot spot was in northern Nevada.   
A tiny hot spring bubbles up.
Much of the spectacular colors and lines are shaped by thermophiles, which are bacteria and fungi that thrive precariously at different levels of heat.  They cluster together to form vast blankets of rich color and texture.

Visiting this park is quite an experience.  We knew that books and movies would be completely inadequate for Jasper to even begin to understand Yellowstone.  There were times when my little chatterbox was actually speechless. 

A bison wandering by the road.
A bacterial mat.
Elk grazing.

A bubbling mudpot.

The Fishing Hole, where fishermen used to cook their catch right on the line.

Jasper finally caught one of the grasshoppers that made music wherever we went.

Bacteria and algae.

A mule deer.
Grand Prismatic Spring.
Bacterial mat at Grand Prismatic Spring.

A coyote we encountered.

Mammoth Hot Springs.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is my pick for the most beautiful area in Yellowstone National Park. Iron compounds in the canyon walls are rusting, painting it with breathtaking colors.  Here and there tiny puffs of steam can be detected in the canyon walls from hot springs that flow into the river. Here are some pictures I took there.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin

Jasper in front of Old Faithful.
These pictures are from our first day at Yellowstone National Park.  We planned our visit in the spring, when Jasper became fascinated with geysers. (It was a natural progression from interest in the volcanoes that surround us here in Portland).  At least half of the geysers on earth are at Yellowstone, and since you can drive there from Portland in about a day and a half, we decided we really needed to go there.  I knew of course that by the time of our visit, he would have learned about as much as he could about geysers months before.  And sure enough, he had definitely moved on to other obsessions.  But we knew that once he was actually there, he would be fascinated all over again.  He just kept running around yelling, "This place is really cool!"

A fumerole, making evil sounds.
They just spent $27 million on a new visitor's center at Old Faithful, and I'm pleased to report that the exterior is really nice.  Every day that we were there, we tried hard to waste as little time as possible doing things like eating and sleeping.  We had already read every book and watched every documentary we could get our hands on about Yellowstone, and while we were there, we were keenly aware that any time spent indoors was taking away from time spent doing what we came there for.  So while I'm sure we would have enjoyed seeing the new visitor's center, as well as the others, there's not a single minute of our time outdoors I would have sacrificed.  

Old Faithful.
We stayed in a cabin near Old Faithful.  As we moved around the park, it became clear that this was the perfect choice for us.  The cabin we stayed in was next to the Firehole River and a short stroll to the Upper Geyser Basin where we saw Old Faithful erupt many times.  The cabins in other parts of the park couldn't boast of being in sight of anything so spectacular.  It was a good time of year to go as well.  Our visit was timed to take place in the last week that the cabins were open, after school started and before the snow begins in Yellowstone and roads are closed.  The crowds, which can be overwhelming in the summer, had thinned considerably.  The cabins have shared bathrooms and showers, but each room has a sink.  Cooking is forbidden in the cabins, but we brought an immersion beverage heater, which enabled us to have hot cocoa, tea, and coffee, and to make many meals with a little ingenuity.  I was surprised at the vast selection of "natural" convenience food at one of our local Safeways.  From organic canned soup and ramen noodles, to Indian meals in little pouches to be heated in boiling water, there was lots to choose from.  Cooking pasta didn't work very well, but whole wheat couscous was a great success.  This saved us lots of time and money.  

At the Upper Geyser Basin, we ran into a very kind and chatty fellow who was watching the geysers full time.  When one of them would erupt, he would get out a walkie-talkie and make a quick report.  He was loaded with information about how regular each geyser is, what the indicators are for each one of an impending eruption, and what kind of show to expect.  While we were there, there were six geysers whose eruptions were being predicted, based on a variety of factors such as the time and strength of previous eruptions.  With his encouragement and knowledge, we stuck around to see several when we might have otherwise have lost patience.  There are some lovely hot springs at the Upper Geyser Basin, but the geysers are really the stars of the show.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Craters of the Moon

Jasper climbs out of Indian Tunnel.

Craters of the Moon National Monument is a weird landscape of lava.  There was a hotspot in the earth's crust under it at one time, and although the hotspot now rests under Yellowstone, eruptions have continued.  They have filled this eerie blackened landscape with oozing lava; forming lava tubes, and spitting splatter cones; dotting the landscape with bizarre rocks.  
When we visited, we were dismayed to find many of the park's features inaccessible because of road resurfacing.  We couldn't help but feel it would have been more considerate of them to tackle one project at a time, but hey, you can't have everything.  It seems likely they were trying to cram all the needed work into the narrow window between school beginning (and most family vacations ending) and the arrival of snow. Fortunately we were still able to see splatter cones and the amazing lava tubes.
An immense splattercone.

The caves are great fun to explore.  Most require climbing over big rock piles, one of Jasper's favorite things to do.  One has a narrow opening that we had to brave to reach a vast interior.  Another is lined with a trickle of ice, even with the hot sun just outside.  Yet another is filled with nests and the cooing of rock doves. Flashlights are needed.  Once again I was glad we sprang for lights that go on bands around our heads so that our hands were free for climbing.  The caves are especially inviting because the lava fields are not hospitable places for trees to grow.  So when you venture into this bleak landscape, the wind and sun can be formidable.  I actually didn't expect much from this park, and I was really surprised by its drama and beauty.  
Inside a splattercone.

Admiring basalt.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Grand Teton National Park

Jasper collecting blue lupine seeds to take home and plant.
We've been on vacation, on a week long western road trip.  We stopped to take in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.  Taking pictures of mountains is kind of ridiculous, because the scale of things just doesn't translate.  And Mother Nature definitely wants you to know just how tiny you are, and show her some respect.  I can't say that the grandeur was lost on Jasper, but he must feel rather tiny anyway.  He loved the mountains, but he couldn't help being fascinated with the little things all around him.  He kept calling to us to see another unusual flower, moss, lichen, slime mold, or rock.  The Teton range was formed on a fault line, and the rocks are a fascinating mixture of types and colors.  He came home with a dazzling handful.

Fall has definitely arrived at Grand Teton.  Startlingly yellow aspens and red elderberry shrubs festoon the landscape.  It was a feast for the eye even without gazing skyward.

One difficulty with the park is that most of the hiking trails are very long and very vertical.  We didn't have time enough for a truly ambitious hike.  We couldn't resist taking a shuttle boat ride across Jenny Lake, which leads to a trail to Hidden Falls.  Because this is one of the more accessible trails, it's terribly popular, even as the season closes.  But it is also genuinely breathtaking.  
Driving through Wyoming as the moon rose.