Fall in love with Portland

Need a break from the library? Check out these local autumn hot spots.

By Iris Shanks // Staff Writer

Taste apples at the Portland Nursery.

Taste samples of fresh, unpasteurized apple cider at the Portland Nursery's Apple Tasting.
Taste samples of fresh, unpasteurized apple cider at the Portland Nursery’s Apple Tasting.

This weekend, head over to the Portland Nursery for the 27th annual Apple Tasting. Upon approaching the nursery, it seems overwhelming and carnivalesque. However, once you step into the madness, the smell of apples washes over you, and all cares disappear. The most popular event is the apple tasting: a massive room lined with plates bearing slices every kind of apple you’ve ever heard of, and even more that you probably haven’t. Outside, there are bins full of many apple varieties, plus some pears, and you’re free to stock up on all of the fancy fruit for only 99¢ per pound.

In another tent, local craftspeople sell goods like apple and peach butter, honey and caramel made with goat milk. There are free samples everywhere, but if you find yourself more tempted than satisfied, you have plenty of options. If you’re hungry check out the food tent, which boasts streusel, caramel apples and free popcorn. There’s even pizza; at the back of the nursery, Hot Lips has its own tent.

Off to the side, two burly young men crank a cider press. You can buy the fresh cider by the gallon, or wait in line to drink unpasteurized free samples. Fall spirit is in the air, with talk of pies, cider and Thanksgiving feasts.

[box type=”shadow” ]October 17-19, 10-5 P.M. At the Portland Nursery, 5050 SE Stark.[/box]

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Visit Sauvie Island’s pumpkin patch.

In the summer, Sauvie Island attracts visitors with its beaches and berries, but once October hits, the pumpkins ripen and it’s time to hit the patch. The Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch is a little bit out of the way but well worth it––amid the roars of tractors and excited shrieks, there is hardly a trace of city life.

Before picking up a pumpkin, be sure to head into the barn, where you can ogle at critters like Stumpy the goat and The Five Peacock Brothers. You can even do some window shopping––emus are on sale for the low, low price of $125.

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You can take a free hay ride or brave the Corn Maze, and there’s even a cow train where a tractor pulls riders (mostly kids) around in little cow wagons. Once you finally manage to get to the pumpkins and choose the perfect one, you can visit the market, which is stocked with pumpkin-carving kits, mini-pumpkins and a cornucopia of jams, jellies, nuts and fresh produce.

The Pumpkin Patch offers just the right amount of kitsch to inspire autumnal nostalgia. Now that it’s time for midterms, it can make a world of difference to get off of the hill and let yourself be festive. If Halloween isn’t your thing, pick up a pumpkin anyway and do something else with it. Ideas include: trying to make pumpkin pie from scratch, turning it into a soup, drawing a face on it and letting it sit on your desk until it starts to rot.

[box type=”shadow” ]Pumpkin prices: 0-5 lbs. –– $1 6-15 lbs. –– $3 16-25 lbs. –– $5 Cow train: $2, 10 A.M. –– 5:30 P.M. Hay ride: Free! 10 A.M. –– 5:45 P.M. Corn maze: $7, 10 A.M. –– 10 P.M.[/box]

Take a hike at Hoyt Arboretum.

Fall2Any trip down Barbur or Terwilliger will alert you to the fact that leaves are changing color, but why let it stop there? Up in the Southwest Hills, the arboretum is both removed from the city and easily accessible via the MAX. Of the many varieties of trees, several are evergreens. However, there are also trails that display the changing colors in an environment far more peaceful than a ride on the Pioneer Express.

 

The walks are mostly hilly, but the dense trees open into little meadows exposing the grandeur of the forest. The Hawthorne and Elderberry trails, as well as the Vietnam Memorial, give the best chances of seeing fall colors at their vibrant peak. Once you start yearning for greenery, the lush evergreens are never far.

[box type=”shadow” ]Hours: 9 –– 4 P.M. Closed on Sundays Parking: $1.40 per hour or $4 per day Trails open to the public.[/box]

Get a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks.

You may be asking, “Starbucks?” Don’t act surprised––the number one indicator of fall is growing chatter about the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The drink gets a lot of flack, especially in Portland, where pure, black, caffeine-heavy coffee is worshipped above all else, and the local coffee shops are hailed as heroes capable of crushing Capitalism with the perfect espresso.

Yet, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is autumnal and a classic. Its effect on me was a combination of post-coffee jitters and drowsiness, and if that’s not representative of the life of a student in Fall, I don’t know what is.

 

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