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Another chilly Sunday, another cool park Saturday, January 17, 2009

Perrie O'Tierney walks under trees covered with Methuselah's Beard moss Jan. 11 at Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton, Ore.

Last Sunday Perrie and I drove out to Beaverton to check out Tualatin Hills Nature Park. It was a pretty arbitrary choice
—I picked it because it was the biggest park on the west side of Portland. It turned out to be the perfect place for a morning walk.

The 222-acre greenspace is right in the middle of Beaverton, with a convenient MAX (light rail) stop at the northern edge of the park. It is well-developed, with about 1-½ miles of paved and 3 miles of unpaved trails, all well-signed. The park contains a variety of forests, ponds and a large trail-less wildlife preserve area.

It also has an interpretive center with interactive exhibits and a classroom that, I suspect, is well-used by the local schools during the week.

I didn't bring my camera with me, but Perrie had her point-and-shoot so we took turns with it. These photos are a mix of hers (e.g. at right) and mine (e.g. above).

All around the park are signs warning visitors not to step on—or even touch—the newts. Since it was somewhat less than 50°F we didn't expect to see any, but sure enough we found one on the trail just before we got back to the interpretive center. It was moving ... very ... slowly, trying to eat a tiny worm (that's what appears to be a cigar in the second picture). Eventually the salamander won.

[left] Matthew works his magic on some hapless individual.

Rough-skinned newts are a type of North American salamander with particularly poisonous skin. They are probably not toxic to the touch, but certainly would be if ingested. I suspect that is why dogs are not allowed in the park. You can read more about the newts and their poison here.