Scurvy Pumpkin Hunter

sauvie-deppHalloween may be over but pumpkin may yet be on the menu. I’m talking about, of course, the Pumpkin Taco. Better make a run from the Bell or you’ll have little to be thankful for this month.

The reader of this blog may already know that we recently moved to Portland, Oregon.

Located about 10 miles northwest of downtown is a place called Sauvie Island. It’s the largest island on the mighty Columbia River and one of the largest river islands in the United States. I’d never heard of it before moving here.

The island is about 26,000 square acres and home to primarily farmland and protected wildlife areas and even a nude beach. Ever since we arrived it has been a popular destination to for us to visit for photography, picking our own produce, and bird watching.

It’s also home to some of the biggest pumpkin patches in the Portland area, including one that is “haunted,” the corn maze bit, yada yada yada.

It was also where my wife wanted to go pumpkin shopping. So, one find day, we grabbed our machetes and headed out to the island. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

I've stood right there, where the Columbia and Willamette Rivers meet. In this view NoPo is visible. Downtown Portland (not shown) is a bit more to the south.

I’ve stood right there, where the waters of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers meet. In this view NoPo is also visible. Downtown Portland (not shown) is a bit more to the south.

First, just a bit of history on Sauvie Island (with information courtesy of the Wikipedia). It was first explored (but not named) in 1792 by British Lieutenant William Broughton. It was he who named “Mount Hood,” which he spied from the southern tip of the island. (Factoid: You can still see that same mountain today.) Lt. Broughton was part of an expedition led by George Vancouver. (Factoid: There’s still a city named Vancouver, in Washington, just north of the Columbia River.)

Then, on Nov. 4, 1805, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery landed on Sauvie Island and promptly named it Wapato Island, based on the abundance of the Broadleaf arrowhead plant. This plant was also known as “Indian potato” and was a staple in the diet of indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1851 a post office was established and the island was renamed Souvies Island. No information is available to ascertain if the island was cooked in a water bath at that time.

By the 1940’s the island had picked up the name Sauvie Island when wildlife area lands were acquired by the state of Oregon.

There are places on Sauvie Island where one get away from it all and really feel away from the big city. It’s a remarkable place for being literally just 10-20 miles from Portland city center (depending on where you go on the island).

Or, you can go to one of the farms where about 99.44% of city residents flood every weekend and fight for your very life. I imagine it’s a lot like being boarded by pirates after a naval battle at sea. I was glad we brought our machetes.

Your guru on Sauvie Island.

Your guru on Sauvie Island.

On that day, though, I counted my blessings. (Trust me, that’s a rare thing.) My wife didn’t make me go to the “Haunted MAiZE” and force me to defend my right to exist.

We drove by that place and I peed myself. Wow, this island does scary for Halloween.

Instead, we drove on by and my wife, who wanted pumpkins, was sad. Oh well, those are the Halloween breaks.

But then, further down the road, we chanced upon a more sedate pumpkin farm. Ah, yes. Quite. It was a more urbane, civilized experience for the sophisticated pumpkin connoisseur.

In other words, less kids. No rats in the corn. For that matter, no corn, either. I guess you could say it was aMAiZEING.

We quickly set about the task at hand, namely picking out some pumpkins that we could buy so early there would be plenty of time for them to rot before the big day came. We’re just that smart.

I ran through the fields spotting green pumpkins. Green! I had to have one. “Watch out for the green ones,” I yelled. “They’re not ripe yet.” Ha ha ha. Get it? Alas, by Halloween, it had changed color. Damn. Orange you impressed?

I documented the trip in photographs. Maybe one day my work this expedition will be featured alongside the Lewis and Clark collection.

5 responses

  1. Hilarity! How come you didn’t mention our nude sunbathing?


  2. “Bird watching” on an island with nude sunbathing? Good excuse for hiding in the trees with binoculars, I guess.


  3. The pumpkins are all naked. Why not the people? By next summer you’ll be “hanging out” just like the locals. *grin*


  4. I think you took BD’s sunglasses. I barely recognized you without the Hazmat suit on.

    We went to a pumpkin farm a couple of years ago and duked it out with families with wagons of toddlers and got to bring home 4 pumpkins for something close to $100. FALL FAIL! Now I appreciate my chemically-induced and sprayed Vons pumpkins more and more.


    1. For some reason wearing the hazmat suit in public scares people. Nuts!

      Our pumpkins at the island farm were very reasonably priced. I think most likely they were the cheapest option around. No doubt much cheaper than the mayhem farm up the street with the carnival atmosphere.


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