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Lyrics from the musical 'Oklahoma' captured a recent May Saturday as my friend, Barb, and I set off on a trip.

"Oh, what a beautiful morning,

Oh, what a beautiful day.

I've got a beautiful feeling,

Everything's going my way."

— Gordon MacRae

These lyrics from the musical "Oklahoma" captured a recent May Saturday as my friend, Barb, and I set off on a trip to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Barb, a transplant from Washington state and avid gardener, was eager to explore different areas of Portland. This garden seemed an ideal starting point. Situated between Reed College and the East Moreland Golf Course, its seven acres contain rare rhododendrons and their hybids, azaleas, and companion plants. A surrounding spring-filled lake and three waterfalls attract over ninety bird species. Thirty years had transpired since I had visited these gardens and so I, too, was looking forward to touring them again.

A website stated that Saturday hours were 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It also mentioned that there was limited parking but that one could park on neighborhood streets. Barb and I easily found our way to the gardens and 15 parking spaces. They were filled. We then joined the circle of idling cars, waiting for an exiting vehicle. After 15 minutes spent circling through the parking lot, we decided to explore parking options on neighboring streets. Large signs at Reed College stated, "No Visitor Parking."

Several blocks away parking spaces were filled and were not a reasonable option if I were to follow my doctor's orders to remain in a walking boot when outdoors. East Moreland neighborhood and its beautiful homes and gardens beckoned and so we temporarily changed our route to include a block-by-block tour. We saw amazing rhododendrons of many hues and sizes as well as beautifully-maintained homes built during the '20s and '30s. Barb pointed out clematis and wisteria vines and other flourishing plants to her non-gardener driver.

A bit dizzy from driving in a semi-grid between Woodstock Boulevard and Crystal Springs Boulevard, we returned for another attempt at a parking space at the gardens. Round and round we went, hoping for a space, lingering to see if that stroller was going in or out of the trunk, only to see it finally unfold onto the pavement. Perhaps the exploration of another Portland area was needed before a final, third attempt to visit the gardens. The Mount Tabor neighborhood and its beautiful park were not far away and perhaps we could travel through Ladd's addition with its original round-a-bouts to challenge us. Without a plan, we missed the entrance to the Addition but did reach Belmont. Up the hill we drove, eventually finding my newlywed duplex with its view of Mount St. Helen. Still driving, we wandered through Mt. Tabor's beautiful park, site of a dormant volcano. Barb was literally a "captive" audience as I showed her a Main Street house with its original slate roof, overlooking a reservoir, and then a friend's home on 60th that had been a "speak-easy" during prohibition.

Criss-crossing southeast Portland, we returned for a final attempt to tour the gardens, arriving at 3:15 p.m. One parking space was empty and we quickly snagged it. A few minutes were lost extracting the walking boot and wedging my injured foot into it securely. Yet, at 3:25 p.m. we arrived at the gate only to be informed that no further visitors were allowed. The third attempt was definitely not charmed! Everything had not "gone our way." Yet, it had been a beautiful and wonderful day. Barb had seen much of Portland, just not the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.

Josie Seymour is a member of the Jottings Group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.


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