Late Summer Picnic at Cathedral Park, St. Johns

Coping 101

When life reaches a fever pitch, it’s wise to chill out. One of our favorite methods of chilling is to pack a picnic basket with goodies and either hike or hit a park.

Calm Before the Norm

It’s just under a month until our Big Day, and we have been going at full tilt. Our wedding plans have all been smoothed out now, so we’re ready to take a deep breath and relax. Maybe even enjoy being in the spotlight for a little bit.

Even though wedding planning is going well, our days are still a bit hectic as we merge two middle-age households. It’s important in the midst of chaos and noise to take some time for fun and adventure too. So we plan a romantic late-summer Saturday evening picnic at Cathedral Park in St. Johns.

No Stained Glass in This Park

Cathedral Park runs under the north end of St. Johns Bridge over the Willamette River, in a rather industrial area of North Portland. It includes a boat ramp, floating dock, picnic tables, walking trails, grassy lawns, and dogs are welcome.

Soaring over the park is a steel suspension bridge built in 1931. It’s a gothic masterpiece popular with both amateur and professional photographers. But the park didn’t open until May 1980, the same fateful month the nearby Mount St. Helens volcano erupted.

Every year since then, the park hosts the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, the biggest free jazz festival west of the Mississippi. And for years, it was a virtual Nerdstock when the park hosted Trek in the Park, a live reenactment of a Star Trek script.

Golden Hour

On this quiet, calm, late-summer evening, we find a spot on a grassy hillside sloping gently down to the river. We’re sure to lay our blanket so we have a spectacular view of the bridge silhouetted at sunset.

We kick back and relax on the blanket, watching dogs play frisbee. Photo shoots with young lovers and families in matching clothes position themselves with various amazing backdrops. We’re waiting for the sun to sink a little lower in the sky.

The Star of Our Show

I open the lid of our picnic basket to reveal Panino di St Johns, mini salami sandwiches I named just for the occasion. Along with the panino, we have Summer Tomato Tarts, hummus, sliced Fuji apples, and Keebler Townhouse crackers.

Our wine selection for the evening: Oak Knoll Müller Thurgau. This refreshing, dry white wine has notes of tarragon and Dijon mustard. It is a perfect end-of-summer sunset wine that goes well with apples and sharp cheeses.

Oak Knoll 2015 Müller Thurgau

It’s also a perfect sentimental memory for us. We sipped Oak Knoll Müller at our first wine tasting date a year earlier. I was very Impressed with Andy’s observations of this wine, so I decided he was maybe a “keeper.” And I saved a bottle or two in case of a special occasion!

Yes, those occasions have since arisen. More stories to come!

What About You?

What parks would you recommend for a sunset picnic? Let me know in the comments!

Panino di St Johns

Mini salami sandwiches. These little Italian sandwiches are perfect for stylish picnics or to make up a platter for large parties.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Course Picnic, Sandwiches
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2


  • 4 Ciabatta rolls any small hard rolls (like sour dough) will work
  • 4 Slices of prosciuto
  • 12 Thin-cut slices of salami
  • 2 oz Fresh bocconcini mozzarella thinly sliced and drained on a towel
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp Fresh ground black pepper
  • Fresh basil and arugula leaves a handful


  • Halve rolls horizontally
  • Arrange meats on the bottom half of the rolls
  • Add mozzarella
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper
  • Top with basil and arugula
  • Add top roll
  • Wrap each individual panino tightly in plastic wrap
Keyword basil, ciabatta rolls, mozarella, proscutto, salami
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!