I attended an editor’s gathering in Portland on Oct. 26 and spent some time at the newspaper’s corporate headquarters in Salem the following day. My wife came along, and we finished our journey with a visit to my sister and her family in Lincoln City.
No matter how you slice it, it’s a long slog to the coast and back, a couple dozen or so miles short of a complete trek across Oregon. It dawned on both of us that seven months in Wallowa County had changed our attitude a bit about the hustle and bustle and the traffic of places like Portland in particular.
Thursday evening, we drove from Portland to Salem, 60 miles so we estimated it would take an hour. Well over two hours later, and driving through indescribable traffic congestion, we arrived.
Sunday morning coming back through Portland was also nightmarish with many slowdowns and more than a few episodes of sitting at a standstill. On a Sunday morning. I could only imagine what those roads are like on a weekday morning.
Now we’ve been hearing forever how sophisticated Portland residents are, they bike everywhere they go, they take public transportation in large numbers and they’re just overall green folks.
Pish-posh. They’re out there in gas-eating automobiles at rates as high or higher than most urban areas by our recollection. Portland is a long way from abandoning the automobile culture that prevails in the West.
On top of that, there are an inordinate number of nasty drivers who use their horn and middle finger at the slightest provocation. We were so not impressed.
The coast, of course, is beautiful ... even when the fog is so thick you can only hear the ocean waves.
We drove through the Columbia Gorge in the dark Wednesday night but had a chance to see the fire damage in the daylight on Sunday. Several roads leading off the freeway remain closed. It’s difficult to imagine what it must have been like to travel through the area when the fires were at their peak.
We made a quick stop in The Dalles area to see if we could find fresh apples and pears since it was so late in the season. We found one orchard still in operation –– all the apples and pears you could handle for 50 cents a pound. Needless to say, we were in hog heaven. The fruit was amazing.
While both of us enjoy getting away on occasion, we’re beginning to reach that age and stage in life when the thought of being in our own home, in our own beds is inviting. That doesn’t mean we will stop traveling whenever possible. It’s still healthy to get out and see how other folks live on occasion.