Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Notes from the road: The best dog park ever

Another brief snippet from our road trip to Portland in mid-May. . . .

This is the best dog park. Ever. It almost makes up
for having to sit in the back of the Honda Element for 7 hours.
In terms of quests, let's not forget some of the more epic in history: Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth, Cortez and the Lost Cities of Gold, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and, of course, Waldo and the elusive Where. I would say finding good walking and peeing areas for Ben on a road trip most certainly falls into the category Epic Quests.

The traditional rest area is fine -- well, more than fine once that third cup of coffee kicks in -- but none of us are huge leash fans. It just seems a little too cumbersome to get all the gear out just to walk along a Gobi Desert-like corner of a state-run travelers' way station.
Ha! We laugh in the face of authority.
That's just one more reason why we usually come down the Washington side of the Columbia River on our way to the River City -- lots of mysterious little side roads, dotted with sage and Queen Anne's lace and steeped in the wild aroma of white tail deer and bunny rabbits. Welcome to Ben's world on the road.

But this trip, I am here to tell you, we hit the motherlode in terms of canine watering holes: Sandy River Delta Park. And all quite by accident, to boot.

We were about 30-40 minutes out of Portland, when we thought it might be nice to give Ben a breather because we knew we would in the event we hit traffic in the city. A couple of I-84 directional signs guided us toward Lewis and Clark State Park/Oxbox Park, but when we got to the intersection just a hop, skip and a jump from the off-ramp, we were given yet ANOTHER option -- Sandy River Delta Park. We took the road less traveled.

Here's what we found: 1,400 acres -- not a typo, folks, 1,400 acres! -- of off-leash trails for dogs and their people, courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service (and, by the way, there's even a little room for bikes and equestrians). The facilities are basic (ie, bathrooms of the nonflushing variety) and ample, but unpaved, parking. Poop bags thoughtfully provided at many of the trailheads. (Note: Bring your own water, however. The park is not plumbed.)

Whoaa. Did we just did and go to Dog-Walking Heaven? I think so. Ben certainly did. (I still sorta prefer flushing toilets, but let's not niggle about the details, shall we?)

There are meadow walks, woodsy walks, spectacular views for the two-legged visitors, endless smells and friends to be made for the four-legged part of the equation -- and all dedicated to our canine friends except for one area adjacent to a wildlife and waterfowl viewing area where everyone has to leash up. 

A small price to pay for canine paradise.

P.S. Please enjoy this slide show of the park by Portland photographer Bob Ice. It's really quite charming and does much greater justice to this wonderful place than my humble cell phone. And it includes images of many great hounds.


  1. Wow! What a find. We're jealous. :)

  2. Woo hoo! That looks like a fun place to visit! You're one lucky dog Ben.

  3. That looks like a nice place to visit! I can't believe you're so defiant off leash right in front of the sign.

    Happy Wednesday!

  4. NICE! There should be more of these for us tax paying "parents" of dogs. Why isn't there? POUT. And I don't even understand that sign. If it's for dogs, why should they be on the leash? Double POUT. Ben is awfully good to be in the car for 7 hours. After about 2, Georgia starts to freak. She's not a good traveller.

  5. Ben is a RESIGNED traveler (you've seen The Paw in the Car picture) which is why it takes twice the time to get anywhere with him. I'm a little more indulgent when he and I travel solo and stop more frequently (because let's be honest, we later-middle-aged ladies who-are-trying-to-reduce-their-daily-intake-of-caffeine-but-having-a-hard-time-of-it-especially-on-mornings-we-are-driving-to-Portland-or-Seattle do need to take time now and then to powder our noses).