I was not going to do this, but it is either post chronologically disjointed posts about our trip to Oregon or post nothing at all. Since my return to Texas, I've found myself consumed by the ever relentless rat race here. During my very limited free time -between work, four-hour/day commutes, and getting the ranch back in shape- I might be able to spend 1/2 to one hour going through the photographs and videos accumulated over the three and 1/2 weeks we were gone. I seem to be going at a snail's pace.
During my 45-minute train commutes and lunch (when I get a lunch break) I read. Over the last month I have learned much about the natural, geological and geographical history of Oregon. Like most of my trips, I visit with as much a blank slate as I can, avoiding expectations and preformed perceptions that may (and usually do) skew first impressions. Afterward I read as much as I can to learn more about the places I've been and people I've met.
The return to the Willamette Valley and our two weeks in Central and Eastern Oregon are almost a world apart. Mostly because of my previous life in the Valley. My return was full of expectations and memories; the time spent east of the Cascades was like a little girl on a big magical planet other than what I sit on now. My shirt depicting 'Where the Wild Things Are' might be a good analogy of our time there. In truth, it is more wild than -and surpasses in many ways- any place here in Texas except the Big Bend area.
Truth be told, I have fallen in love. I'm one of those people whose sense of place can mean life or death. It affects my health and transforms my psyche; I am a creature of place. And Oregon - the Cascades and east into Idaho- has got me. So now I have a polyandrous relationship with two geographical places: Big Bend and Eastern/Central Oregon. I might have to copy the Mormon practice of dividing my time between the two loved ones.
While stopped on the bikes somewhere in the vast expanse of mountains, ancient volcanoes, lava fields, basalt-rimmed ridges, and towering trees, and I tried to explain to Ed that this region reminded me of Big Bend. With the wide diversity of geological features, wildlife, plant life, and extremes of desert to lakes and rivers of water. Ed's comment aptly described it as a 'softer, more gentle, Big Bend'.
And the people we met made it all more wonderful. I had forgotten how friendly people can be; accepting and hospitable of strangers no matter who they are and where they are from. We even met a few native Texans that relocated there.
I didn't want to return. Unless it was to go straight to Big Bend. In time, that's just how it will be. We will drive right by this area and not have to stop. In fact, we might avoid it completely.
With all the photos of our way to Oregon and in the Valley now sorted, culled and categorized, I will start going through those from our 2-week journey east of the Cascades. Tomorrow I am acquiring a netbook, a compact laptop that I can take along with me on the train and the bike. This will facilitate writing and putting my thoughts down. I will post up daily summaries as they progress with a few selected photos and even a video clip or two.