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Oaks Amusement Park: Nasty Enough

August 26th, 2007

Eh, it’s like my old roommate told me, after seeing the Mona Lisa on free day at the Louvre: “Talk about your unwashed masses, babe.” Yeah, that’s pretty much Oaks Amusement Park in Southeast Portland on one of the last days of summer before school starts. (Would you like e-mails from Chipper, the park’s mascot? Sign up here!)

I have never particularly liked Oaks. The rides, the cotton candy, the dirty boys who work there, the roller skating. Not my trip. We are ice skaters here, you know that, right? The organ music is enough to give me a screeching migraine. The only good part about Oaks is that we usually go for Salvadorian food after at El Palenque. (If you get the enchiladas or taco salad there, you will be happy. Especially if you get a strawberry margarita, Negra Modelo or horchata, too. But you will be missing out on the fried plantains, black beans and sweet cream, and the loroco pupusas with fresh slaw and salsa. Dear God, I miss living by El Palenque.)

I liked the Willamette River below Oaks Park plenty when I was a teenager. Because, as you probably have already guessed, I was a teenage girl. Wearing a bikini. And cute boys in boats like cute girls and their cute friends in bikinis. Cute girls like to go for boat rides. That way they can wave at people, people who aren’t in boats.

“Ha!! I’m in a boat, sucker!”

Cute boys frequently have drugs and beer. It’s a winning combination! Unless you’re a parent.

Wacky Girl: “Did you ever go swimming in this river, Mom?”
me: “Once or twice.”
Wacky Girl: “Why won’t you ever let me go swimming in rivers?”
me: “Rivers are stupid. I have a headache.”

You know who loves Oaks Park? My kids. And my husband. And my dog. Wacky Dog loooooooooved him some Oaks Park. (We used to live over there. It was hideous. All that, “You live by all the antique stores! And the restaurants! Cool!” We were all, uh-huh, yeah we’re all about cool.) We took Wacky Dog to the Multnomah County Fair at Oaks Park every year. Pig-sniffin’! Curly-fry eatin’! Lots of pettin’! “Ooooooooooooooh my gawd! Your dog is soooooooo cute!” (Here, go look at how adorable the big lug was.) He also loved to swim in the river and would want to stay and play all day long. Even after a raw sewage spill. He was not picky.

me: “Oaks Park is stupid. More stupid than the river.”

A few things I’d like to say to the park-goers we ran into today:

* Your kid doesn’t need to be on a leash, you do.

* Maybe you should sign up for yoga, put down the cigarette, unleash your kid and chase after it. Him. Her. Whatever it is.

* Corn dogs, fried chicken sandwiches and curly fries, all at the same time? Bad idea.

* “You want a spankin’?” No, he wants a nap. He’s two. It’s 3 p.m. Figure it out, would you, mama?

* I didn’t need to see your tongues twisting around each other. Just… ew.

* The Lewis & Clark ride isn’t scary, it’s cheesey. Your kid will say, “That was stupid, Mom,” after you take him on it. Don’t waste your tickets.

* Roller skating makes you fall on your head.

That’s about all I’ve got. Later. And when we’re boating? Let’s be careful out there.




  1. Himself says

    I love the rink for the organ and the beautiful wood floors and the old-fashioned roller-dancing. (Oldest wood floor roller rink west of the Mississippi!)

    But man, it ain’t like ice skating!

    August 26th, 2007 | #

  2. Mallory says

    I love Oaks Park! Yeah, its kind of run-down and has a definite “b-list amusement park” vibe, but it is cheap! And local! And a pretty location, on that yucky, polluted, but none-the-less picturesque river. My kids love it. I love the history of the place–did you know it used to be a zoo? I do not like the teeming masses, either, though. I hate it when people ask their kids, “Do you want a spanking?!” I so want to say, “No. she wants different parents.”

    August 27th, 2007 | #

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