Monday, July 7, 2014
Secret Grotto of Portland, Oregon
Preview Secret Grotto of Portland, Oregon Lex Loeb Contributor Network . If you have been to the Grotto in Portland you might have thought that the rock cliff face with the cave like grotto was fairly amazing and it is but it is only semi-natural. The Grotto is very well maintained and you can see that in places the rock face has been reinforced in places to prevent rocks from falling on out door masses. The Grotto is usually free and open to the public daylight hours and includes. Forested gardens, the rock wall face of the grotto it self , an out door mass area, a very substantial indoor shire, allied buildings and an elevator to the top of the rock face where there are more gardens and and a Catholic seminary . There is also the Meyer memorial shrine that cantilevers over the rock cliff face looking back toward the Columbia River. the Meyer shrine might scare children because it has what looks like a stuffed Madonna and child under glass that is a bit too realistic . It scared me and left a memory impression of a sort of natural history museum style stuffed mother and child that seems to have real human hair and other features such that It does give the impression that they are dead and preserved not life like like the figures in Michaelangelo's Pieta. It is worth the fee to take the elevator to explore what is up there. Down below is a welcome center and a large Catholic Supplies Gift shop. The Grotto is a serene quiet place. The giant Sequoia trees out in front along Ne Skidmore are one of my favorite things as are the tendency of the steep cliff lands to be covered with spider webs in late summer and autumn. You can see the spider webs best if you happen to be there when the light is just right filtering down and back lighting them as silhouettes. The Grotto is not the only "Grotto" at Rocky Butte. The secret Grotto's like at the dead end of NE Skiidmore Ave if you drive or walk to right leaving the Grotto Parking Lot. Just take Skidmore to the end of the road where the street dead ends in a cul de sac. You are entering the twilight zone the moment you park the car there. Every time I go there I am a little scared to leave the car alone. My car has never been bothered but it does seem to be a lonely unvisited unwatched space. There is a blind wall butting up to interstate 205 that limits some freeway noise at the site so its never as scene and peaceful as the Grotto proper. Walk in and you start seeing strange bare earth mounds I think they are used for dirt bike or motor bike sports but never saw the place being used as such . So beware that activity could be going on. The space appears to be open to the public so I just walk in and explore. If you go in late fall or winter when the deciduous trees are bare you will get a better view of the natural rock cliffs and rock falls at the site all the while being able to see the luxury homes perched up above on the cliff face, it is an over grown jungle in there and if you walk the trails along the freeway you ultimately end up somewhere in or near Rocky Butte State Park. Worried about leaving my car too long or meeting some strange people in there I have not been that far yet. The fascinating thing is that the "grotto" like rock structures are many back there with plenty of evidence of fresh basalt rock falls. Very large rocks some larger than a bus have broken off in places, There are also seasonal springs, ponds and a creek back there I like neglected parks like this because they are so raw. No interpretive nonsense signs and set trails or pathways. The only landscaping are those mud bike ramps. Its not recommended necessarily going there on a wet muddy day. The place is more beautiful than the grotto proper if you like things wild, unpredictable can tolerate the possible dangers there. I give the place one of my rare 5 star ratings. I also give the Grotto a five star rating. An other five star rating goes to the promenade and look out at the top of Rocky butte for really nice territorial views for well its well built basalt rock walls and formal access stairway. Somewhere under Rocky Butte is the 911 call center that is camping out in what was built to be a nuclear war bomb shelter for top officials of Portland sometime during the cold war. I have yet to find it and make a visit. .