Reporter – Jene-Paul
Ride Date – Monday, June 20, 2011
How many people showed up? 32
Beaters, fixies, cruisers, a Brompton, a ‘bent, commuter rigs, tourers & go-fast bikes (just like Portland!) met at the oldest park in WA (Esther Short, 1853) and rode down the river Columbia to see the Old Apple Tree in the corner of Ft. Vancouver NHS. Nick & Jessica (Vancouver Urban Forestry) opened the fence which protects the 176 yr-old tree from idiots and talked about its history, health, *role as progenitor of the NW’s entire apple industry,* and more (it’s hollow plus the apples aren’t so good anymore).
Then, over Maya Lin’s beautiful Land Bridge onto the fort grounds between the palisade and the village sites and up into Vancouver Barracks and the O. O. Howard House to stop beneath a towering great old American Chestnut. Once dominant in eastern North America, they were practically wiped out with the advent of Euros & their plant diseases. This particular tree is healthy but not talking to the other of its species around the corner, so it’s not getting pollinated. (Been there.)
We rolled on to the old Carnegie Library that serves as the Clark County Historical Society Museum. Sure enough, behind it is a big tree transplanted there by some guy who took it upon himself to spread cuttings from the Old Apple Tree all over. This one still produces pie-worthy apples.
North on D Street to the Curmudgeon Tree. Guy used to live here who wrote a grouchy newspaper column but he was really a marshmallow and the neighborhood kids used his yard as the local playground – there is still a rope swing hanging from the big California Bay tree.
At the south end of Arnada Park is a huge Black Walnut (stealthily producing juglone – its own custom pesticide/herbicide – to keep competition away). Parents with trailers stayed down on D rather than negotiate the staggered stone steps up to the park. The hardwood was so precious that pioneers would plant groves as an inheritance for their children (hasn’t Renovo used Black Walnut already?).
Fourth Plain & Main St is the site of the original Fort Vancouver High School. On that corner is a Red Oak planted by the students in 1945 to commemorate the founding of the UN. My picture of the black helicopter following us did not come out well.
A few blocks away on 25th St is a “grove” (4 trees) of Norway Maples (right in front of the Arnold Map house). They’re, like, 85 yrs-old and probably thinkin’ about wherever tree spirits end up.
The group wandered down by Franklin & 21st to check out a Scarlet Oak in someone’s backyard (while dodging chickens). This tree is so-o-o big that it is used as a waypoint for aircraft out of Pearson Airpark (back near the fort – no foolin’).
Parental units with kids in tow peeled off at this point and the remaining half coasted their return to Esther Short Park. We stopped under an enormous Variegated Western Red Cedar in the NE corner and then crossed over to the Slocum House Theater. In front of that is a wide European Beech which was planted there when the old Victorian house was moved to its current location for preservation, in an effort to replicate the house’s original landscaping. One of the foresters told how they hated it when somebody cut down the big European Beech in front of their home when they were a child and one of the riders invoked “Silence Of The Lambs” to explain how the forester ended up in their career-path and the ride kinda broke up and drifted away from there.
Riders had lotsa questions, foresters had tech talk & stories to tell at each Heritage Tree, Vancouver drivers stayed out of the way of the weaving peloton and kids laughed and ran around while many of us gazed up slack-jawed at the heights. Good ride.
— This is part of our ongoing coverage of the the 2011 Pedalpalooza, which runs through June 26th. View the full calendar at ShiftoBikes.org.