Outdoor Activities, Parks, Spring and Summer Activities

Dirksen Nature Park

We had heard about Dirksen Nature Park from several friends, so Nugget and I decided to go check it out one day while Chicken was at camp. We followed our trusty phone GPS and arrived at a tiny parking lot facing an empty field. I checked the address. Yep, we were at the right spot. What the heck was everyone so excited about? Then we noticed a small path and decided to follow it and see where it took us, which wound up being through a small wooded area that dumped us out in another big field.

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As I was becoming convinced my friends are crazy, I noticed people people moving around off to our left. We walked in their direction and as we turned a corner, we saw a playground! Yay!

Dirksen turned out to be pretty cool. There were some small traditional play structures with the added bonus of built in scavenger hunts that Nugget and other kids there seemed to love. There were some large logs and small stumps to play on that generally got ignored.

But there were definitely some stand out features. There were several carved and painted elements that could be used for climbing and sitting. There was also a rock area with a short rope climb and a turf area perfect for sliding on. There was a large tree stump with wall climbing grips that slightly older kids seemed to enjoy.

We did notice that there were two paved paths most people seemed to be coming from that appeared to be closely connected to civilization. So I’m guessing there are more logical places to park and my GPS was just having a little fun at my expense.

What it’s not: accessible for those with mobility issues, shaded at the time of day we were there

What it is: creative, pretty, clean bathrooms (hallelujah!), open space to play, unique

Do we recommend it? Yes! I don’t know that it will climb to the top of our list or become a family favorite, but it is a very cool park and is definitely worth checking out.

Parks, Uncategorized

Mountain View Champions Park

When it’s sunny in December in the Pacific Northwest, you take advantage.  So this weekend we put on our coats and made the trek to one of our favorite local parks- Mountain View Champions Park in Beaverton.  Apart from its sign, there is not much to see from the road.  But take a moment to pull into the entrance, and you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.  It is a joint effort between the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation Department and the Portland Timbers/Thorns, and it’s a great addition the the community.

We did exactly that about a year ago, after noticing indications of construction that had been going on for a while.  It’s been a favorite ever since.  There are two playgrounds.  The one closest to the entrance is newer and is one of the more accessible playgrounds for children with physical limitations.  It uses that bouncy turf stuff instead of bark chips, making it easier for children to navigate the area.  It has large disc swings that kids can sit or lay on.  There is a strip of easily reachable plastic “instruments” and a merry-go-round thing with seats to sit in.  There are also rocks to climb on, small slides to go down, structures to climb on and short concrete paths to go down.

Go past the first play structure and through a few trees, and you are at a second play structure.  It is a more typical play area with traditional swings, bark chips, and things to climb on.

There are multiple sports fields- a smaller one with the Timbers and Thorns logos designed into the turf (making Timber fan Nugget feel like a super star), and a large one that appears to get used for everything from soccer to football.  Tournaments are frequently held, so parking can get tricky during weekends of sports season, although there is additional parking available at a nearby school.  The field are lit at night only for tournaments. There is a concession stand we have found in use during larger events, and there are plenty of bathrooms.  There is a small covered area with tables, as well as a couple stand alone picnic tables.

On any given day, you will find kids running, riding bikes, climbing, swinging, playing sports, and laughing.  There are walking paths around the sports fields, so it is common to see parents walking laps while their kid has whatever practice they are there for. It is a free lunch program location during the summer, and last year there was an attempt at a very tiny farm’s market- although market is a bit of a strong term.  Sports teams practice there, birthday parties happen there, there is always something going on.  We love it.

What it is: a fun community park with lots of different activities, more accessible than most parks.

What it is not: surprisingly, not a great place for picnics. For as big of a park as it is, there are very few picnic tables, and they are usually taken in the summer. That being said, if you don’t mind sitting on the ground, bleachers, or the concrete borders, picnic away!

You can find out the location and more information about amenities here:  http://www.thprd.org/parks-and-trails/detail/mountain-view-champions-park