November 15, 2013


A few days ago the publicist at Globe Pequot emailed me a five star review of Walking Portland Oregon that had appeared in the Portland Book Review. I was thrilled! This came out of the blue from people I did not know, and the book was judged solely on its merits, not because anyone knew me. I’d worked hard with friends and family to make it the best book possible, but I always feel I should have done more.

It takes a village to make a book, I discovered—at least a non-fiction one. I never could have maneuvered through the bewildering maze of modern publishing and map making without help from the more “with it”  friends and family. Daughter-in-law Carolyn realized I couldn’t talk modern “map lingo,” so she took over with her urban-planning-understanding of what the terms met, and then used her smart phone to drop “pins” at every intersection. Somehow—I still don’t know how—it worked! Maps were created. Other friends lent their skills and their companionship to every walk in the book.

At one of the book signings, a woman asked if Walking Portland had been influenced by my volkswalking. I was surprised at the question, but then realized that of course it did. Volkswalking is strictly a volunteer activity, started as a “people’s walk” in Germany, which came to the United States after World War II. There are volkswalk clubs in almost every town, small or large. Most walks are 3K or 6K—five to ten miles—in length, and usually there is no time pressure. The national American Volkssport Association has a national office, so it is easy to find walks wherever you want to go at

Local groups usually plan walks to show off their area, choosing routes they have enjoyed over the years. Some use new trails developed on old railroad routes; others take you through farmlands, or areas of old houses, or past lovely gardens, as well as in various parks. They are always a surprise. It’s a fun way to fit in rest breaks while traveling—you see communities, rather than rest stops. The Cub Scouts in Spearfish, South Dakota, created one as a Cub Scout project, and told us about the town.

What I learned from these walks was that the ones I enjoyed most was when the map handouts included a bit about why this spot was important: a building’s history, a well-designed park with multiple uses, a piece of scenery developed by a far-sighted resident. So, when asked to write a guidebook to Portland, I tried to find out as much as possible about everything seen on each walk. Looking up to the top of buildings, or down at the sidewalks, yielded surprising bits of architecture and history. My walking companions got used to seeing me dart down an alley or side street to investigate something interesting.

Another question is, “are you going to write another one?” Probably not. Fifteen years from now people may use phones instead of guidebooks. But, as a compulsive librarian, I can’t keep from making a file of new tidbits and items that I run across. Just in case.

One recent discovery was the Weinhard brewery 100th birthday time capsule, which celebrated the founding of the brewery. Once, it was near the front door of the Weinhard brewery and mentioned in their handouts. I had referred to it in my first book. Since the building was torn down to create the Brewery Blocks a few years ago, it had disappeared, and no one at Henry’s Pub seemed to know. I couldn’t seem to get through to anyone else, and a search of the Oregonian files turned up nothing. Since the brewery itself was gone, I dropped the search.

Then—and this is what is so fun about walking—one day I stopped by the Vera Katz Sliver Park on NW Davis Street, and noticed a little brass circle in the sidewalk near the street. And there it was. It was installed in the original brewery in 1956, then buried here, and is scheduled for opening in 2056. Put the date on your calendars and plan a party! Want to bet there will be some well-aged bottles?

I’m still having fun meeting new people and finding out new tidbits about my adopted home. Feel free to let me know about all the things you know or find that should be shared with others...I can always add these to a later blog to keep you up to date. Walking Portland Oregon is, like the city itself,  “A Never-Ending Story.”


If you want to see the book in person in the next few weeks, I’ll be at:
1) the Oregon Historical Society book sale, HOLIDAY CHEER: A CELEBRATION OF OREGON AUTHORS, on Sunday, December 1, Noon-4 PM. 1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland. (There will be about 80 authors—check the Oregon Historical Society website for a list.)

2) SOUTHWEST WATERFRONT HOLIDAY BAZAAR in the Mirabella Retirement Center two blocks from the base of the tram. I’ll have Walking Portland Oregon and a Cup of Comfort for a Better World anthology at an authors’ table with some friends. Irene Tinker’s Crossing Centuries, is about her adventures and observations driving across colonial Africa in 1953 with her new husband; Diana Bailey Harris’s Reflections of a Civil War Locomotive Engineer: A Ghost-Written Memoir  is based on her great-grandfather’s letters and diary. He delivered the troops and supplies needed to fight the Confederates. One or more of the authors of Joyful Productions will also be here with Berta and Elmer Hader: A Lifetime of Art --a  great browsing book about Berta and Elmer Hader, fine artists who became beloved children’s author/illustrators during most of the 1900s. The book has full-color illustrations displaying his Impressionist art, her ivory miniature portraits, and many of the paper toys and books for children they created together. The bazaar will be held at 3550 SW Bond Avenue, Portland:
Friday, December 6,  3:00 – 7:00 PM, 
Saturday December 7, 10 AM - 5 PM, and 
Sunday December 8,  10 AM - 2 PM
3) The ANNUAL AUTHORS’ FAIR in Douglas County is always an informal fun affair, with a surprising amount of authors and books. It is December 14, Saturday, 10 AM-4 PM. At the Douglas County Library, Roseburg. 1409 NE Diamond Lake Blvd., Roseburg, OR 97470  (I-5 Exit 124)

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