This article appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of the Skyline Ridge Runner, a newsletter about life in Portland’s most rural neighborhood, Skyline.

A schoolteacher’s hobby almost 50 years ago is today a three-generation Skyline family business that provides commercial pollination in two states, retails honey and beeswax candles, wholesales honey to mead brewers, and collaborates with Oregon State University on entomological research.

In 1973, newly married Mark and Sue Johnson were living on McNamee Road when he started keeping bees as a hobby. Mark taught high school in Scappoose and Sue worked at Freightliner. After their first child, Erin…

by Laura O. Foster

Last night I protested in Portland against Trump’s sending unmarked — and unwanted — federal troops, abrogating the power of our own state’s governor. These goons, who behave less like an orderly, trained peacekeeping force and more an unruly collection of testosterone-infused thugs — have attacked peaceful protestors and thrown people into vans without identifying themselves or probable cause, bringing to living color the specter of a totalitarian state.

I wrote this story for Travel Oregon in April 2018. The original, with photos, is on TO’s site: here. Travel Oregon, aka the Oregon Tourism Commission, is a semi-independent agency created by the Oregon Legislature in 2003.

In Ashland, nature and culture are in league for an exhilarating getaway. In this gorgeous, friendly Southern Oregon hotspot, you can explore historic parks and scenic bike routes, dine on farm-fresh bounty and wrap up your day rejuvenating at the city’s renowned spas. Here are six ways to build an Ashland vacation that satisfies all your senses, including that all-important sense of adventure.

1. Hit the trail

From rare soils, to Native Americans on the land, to dairying to today: details and a historic timeline behind a newly open Metro natural area

Note: I did this raw research in 2015 to be used for interpretive signage when Killin Wetlands opens to the public. It’s presented here, for anyone interested in learning about the history of this beautiful site in western Washington County, Oregon.

History of Killin Wetlands

Killin Wetlands, west of Banks, Oregon, is a natural area owned by Metro, the Portland-area regional government. Its 590 acres along the West Fork Dairy Creek are in the northwest portion of the Tualatin River Valley. The natural area consists of wetlands, at 120 foot elevation in a narrow floodplain depression, as well as surrounding…

In 2014, Metro, the Portland-area regional government, purchased 33 acres of bottomland at Grant Butte. The land had been farmed, and plans were to restore it to its original wetland habitat.

After visiting the farm and interviewing Ed Grimm and Darlene Grimm, daughter of Henry Gantenbein, the last farmer on the land, I wrote this article for a Metro publication. In September 2014, I gave the following presentation, tracing the land’s history to its geologic roots, at a community celebration of the acquisition. …

Gorge Town and Trail Pairings, Oregon

Yes, the Eagle Creek fire in 2017 has closed a lot of the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge. But not all of it! Spring is the best time to explore the eastern Gorge, which remains untouched by that fire.

Balsamroot and lupine in the Eastern Gorge, April 2016

Find detailed info on the hikes named in this article at or

Then pair the hike with these great places to explore in and around nearby towns.

After a wildflower hike between Mosier and The Dalles, such as Mosier Creek Falls, Mosier Plateau, Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, Rowena Plateau and…

In a 1-minute read per organization, learn what 16 Gorge nonprofits do, why they’re awesome and how you can get involved.

Grouped by focus are 1) Conservation/Preservation/Advocacy Groups; 2) Trailkeepers and Builders; 3) First Responders

If you play in the Gorge, you may or may not know that many wild areas have been protected only since 1986; they’re places local towns can no longer develop (and earn tax revenue from). The unspoken contract between visitor and these hosting towns is that we visitors give back, either with dollars: spending the night, eating a meal, buying a gift, buying a sweater…

On the Washington shore of the Columbia River Gorge is one of the last natural bottomlands in the gorge. It’s a former cow pasture turned refuge, all for the love of Canada geese.

Pasture art at Pierce NWR; story unknown. Blackberries are being kept at bay.

No rail line or road embankment separates the land from the river at the 329-acre Pierce National Wildlife Refuge.

Take this fascinating 3-mile, not-hilly walk I led in summer 2017 for the City of Portland’s Ten Toe Express walk series.

Some of the 104 walkers one July night who joined me and Rich Cassidy in exploring Hidden Downtown


Portland Heritage trees, public art/stories, hidden plazas and paths, our only cable railway, and little-visited nooks at Portland State University

A biker looking west on the Hood River-Mosier section of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

“Everybody comes back loving it,” says Stephen Demosthenes, about his new e-bike rental business in Mosier.

Stephen’s the longtime owner of Route 30 Classics on the Historic Columbia River Highway. In the multi-preneurial way of Northwesterners, he sells vintage Porsches and tee shirts, serves ice cream, espresso and Mosier-made sandwiches (in season), and now rents e-bikes.

Laura O. Foster

I write about stairs, back streets and roads less traveled in and around Portland, Oregon. Find my books on Amazon and Portland-area booksellers.

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