My drive through Oregon during my 2013 road trip was a quick one. I didn’t even stop in Portland, but headed straight for Eugene to meet a friend for dinch.
I had been to Portland the summer before, and I had greatly enjoyed being there as I had known I would. Several of my friends from Austin, TX, had traveled to Portland a few times, so I knew from their reports that the general look and feel of the city somewhat mirrored Austin.
When I got the chance to visit and see the sights downtown, what struck me was this sense of irrepressible joy and freedom. Real people, not putting on airs. Except maybe in Portlandia? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
I love cities that have a small-town feel, which both Portland and Eugene possess. Then there’s all that creativity expressed by owners of local businesses, rather than the predictable blah-ness of chains and franchises.
That reminds me of how much it bugs me that many so many cities have the same street names, like Main Street. It’s as though one person were tasked with naming all the streets in the US and he got so tired of thinking up new names that he began to recycle the ones he’d already used. Seriously! He could have been more creative than that. Someday I will purchase or build a city and put some serious creativity into naming the streets.
The Oregon landscape generally reminds me of the things I loved about parts of Germany: small towns, wine country, gently rolling hills, acres of farmland, farmhouses, barns, massive farm machinery. I spent a night with other friends in just such an idyllic town outside Portland. It was so peaceful. None of the rush, rush, rush of trafficky, big-town streets and impatient people.
We drove out to the Oregon coast near Tillamook Bay, chilly even in July, and walked along the beach collecting shells and driftwood. We passed by some dairy farms, and I discovered that Wisconsin isn’t the only state that can lay claim to turning out great-tasting cheeses.
The magnificently tall, deeply green forests lined the roads like sentinels on watch, almost all the way to the ocean. As you know by now, I love the ocean. Heaven is many things, including standing still and listening to waves break violently against the steep cliffs at the ocean’s edge. The many voices of the ocean bring me incredible joy, while at the same time soothing me. Even when the ocean is furious, I’m happy to listen, as long as I am safe from all that fury.
I love Oregon for its haunting beauty, its unspoiled wildlands, and its sense of mystery and adventure. When I next have the time, I will drive down the Oregon coast and into the Redwood forests in northern California. It’s more than worth it.