Me at Mill Ends Park, in downtown Portland, Oregon. It's the smallest city park in the whole world!

One of the biggest is, too. They are, respectively: Mill Ends Park (a circle, 24 inches in diameter) and Forest Park (5, 171 acres). Mom and her husband Jim came through over the weekend, and we visited both.

They were on their way through, stopping only briefly, before heading to their destination this year, which is California. Every year about this time, when cabin-fever threatens to drive them both insane, they make the careful creep down the icy mountain and head for warmer weather in the south. It’s usually Nevada or Arizona. Mom is tired of those and this year she got her wish to go somewhere new. They will visit the people they know along the way, but the annual February trip is mainly to explore places and be warm.

Mom, Tara, and Jim at Pittock Mansion

Independently, my brother Ian and his girlfriend Whitney also made a weekend trip to Portland. Happy coincidence, and we all got to spend a few hours together. While we waited for Ian and Whitney to get ready to meet for lunch, the rest of us went up to the Pittock Mansion, one of my fave Portland places. We didn’t pay the $9 fee to get in, since we only planned on stopping for a moment. The Pittock Mansion is a (yet another!) Portland City Park, and the home of late Henry and Georgiana Pittock. The home has been made into a fabulous museum showing the 5-story home on a peak overlooking about 240 degrees of view of the entire city of Portland, and the Willamette River valley to the West, exposing volcanic mountains Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, and Hood. I have planned to do an entire post just on Pittock, so I’ll save the place for later.

The mansion borders the gigantic Forest Park of Portland. It looks to be perhaps the third largest city park in the nation, and likely one of the largest city parks in the world. As the Straight Dope points out, telling the truth about city parks seems to be a rarity, even in publications that aim to do just that. (The Straight Dope article on the country’s largest city parks, for example, does not even mention Forest Park.)

We drove down the hill and grabbed my brother and his girl for lunch. After lunch, we walked to Mill Ends Park. I had never seen it, though I was pretty sure I had been near it often. We parked, and out of freakish luck, I led us directly to it. Everyone else was skittish over the traffic, but I made Mom take a photo of me at the Park!

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