Picnic season is in full swing; grab a blanket and check out our guide

by: OUTLOOK PHOTOS: JIM CLARK - Picnics are a great way to enjoy what€sˇÃ„ôs left of the wonderful summer weather and East County has an abundance of perfect picnicking locations.  OUTLOOK PHOTOS: JIM CLARK

Normal rainfall for the year in our area is about 37 inches, according to the National Weather Service. In August, that number is two-thirds of an inch. Two thirds. Do you know what that means? It means it’s time to grab a buddy and a bucket of chicken, cozy up against a willow tree and feel the sunshine on your face. Picnic season is in full swing, and you don’t want to miss it.

It can be as simple as picking up a sandwich on your lunch break and heading to a park, as romantic as a hand-crafted meal at the falls complete with a bottle of wine or as fun as a 1940s-themed picnic party with field games and hors d’oeuvres.

One thing is for sure, though: Picnicking is about being outdoors with good company. “Food just tastes better outside,” says Lillian’s Natural Marketplace employee Susan Robideau.

Norma Miller, owner of Norma Jean’s Closet, a Gresham consignment shop, recalls one of her favorite picnics — it was with her husband somewhere in wine country.

“We were young and in love. We grabbed some wine, meat, cheese and a baguette. We sat in the grass under a tree and enjoyed the sun,” Miller says.

She says it’s not so much about the specifics — she doesn’t know why this moment came to mind — it’s about the distraction-free one-on-one relationship.

Retired couple Jane and David Korones of Gresham have fond memories of picnicking as well. They say they were “too cheap to pay for concerts.” Instead they’d grab some food and a blanket and sit outside the venue, soaking in the same music as those inside. One time, they enjoyed fried chicken, Cheetos, Oreos and wine outside a Grateful Dead concert in Central Park. “It’s good to be together,” Jane says.

Debbie Ross of Gresham grew up in North Carolina. She says she has wonderful memories of her family heading up to the mountains every Sunday for a picnic. “At the time I didn’t realize how important it was. Since then our father has passed, and I cherish those memories,” she says.

So, in this glorious-short lived weather, set aside a moment to enjoy a picnic. Find your way to some of the area’s best locations with our guide on Page C5 and then check out The Outlook’s Facebook page to tell us your favorite picniking place.

Blue Lake Park

This park is bursting with family fun. From a kids’ water spray park gushing water every which way, to the refreshing lake, it’s 64 acres of activity and scenery. At Blue Lake you can play a game of disc golf, fish and rent a paddle boat.

“Blue Lake is outstanding, especially in summer,” says Zach Nichols 31, grocery manager at the 181st Avenue Albertson’s.

If you have a whole army of little ones to feed, you might consider dropping by the Albertson’s at 451 N.E. 181st Ave. for the family meal deal. For $8.99 you get eight pieces of fried chicken or a whole rotisserie chicken, potato wedges, potato salad, macaroni salad or coleslaw and four rolls.

Blue Lake Regional Park is located between Marine Drive and Sandy Boulevard off Northeast 223rd Avenue. From Interstate 84, take the Fairview exit (14) and go north on 207th Avenue to Sandy Boulevard. Turn right onto Sandy, travel east to 223rd and turn left. Proceed north to Blue Lake Road and the park. $5 parking fee.

Main City Park

Located in downtown Gresham next to the Springwater Trail, Main City Park is the perfect place to refresh during your lunch break. Take in the hills and grass with the sounds of children playing nearby. Stop by the creek for a moment to yourself, or take a short walk on the trail. Or drop by with family or friends and enjoy a game or horseshoes or basketball.

We suggest stopping by Lillian’s Natural Marketplace (283 N.W. Miller Ave.) for a premade turkey cheddar sandwich stuffed with vegetables and then heading over to Bella Cupcake to indulge in a “cupcake made from scratch with love, “ in the words of owner Debbie Phillips.

Main City Park is at 219 S. Main Ave. No fees.

Benson State Recreation Area

Take in the sweeping vistas along the Columbia River Gorge on your way to the Benson State Recreation Area. Located 1 mile west of Multnomah Falls along Interstate 84, this place is perfect for picnickers.

Grab your quilt and sit by the lake. Motorboats aren’t allowed on the lake, which makes this a wonderful place for swimmers and rowboaters alike. Not only is this park-family friendly, it’s the perfect place for a romantic getaway; because it’s a state park, you can pack a bottle of wine. Add a little cheese and a baguette and you’ll have an evening to remember.

On your way back, snuggle up next to the fire with some hot chocolate and dessert at Multnomah Falls Lodge. $5 day-use fee.

Sandy River Delta

Want to take your dog along? Sandy River Delta is the place for you. The park has an extensive trail system for hikers and bikers. The trails are also open to horse riding. Some parts of the park are open to off-leash use.

On your way, stop by the Troutdale General Store (289 E. Historic Columbia River Highway) to pick up a fresh roasted turkey sandwich served with housemade salt and pepper chips for $6.95. Also available are burgers, salads and pie. Just down the block is Ally’s Dog Spa (103 W. Historic Columbia River Highway), where you can pick up treat for your dog and even toys in case you forgot them.

Take Interstate 84 to exit 18 and follow signs to Sandy River Delta. It’s on the north side of I-84. No fees.

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