February 4, 2011
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I love, love, love driving over Mount Hood because it’s like walking through the wardrobe to Narnia. On one side, the trees are green and thick and omnipresent on overlapping hills. Moss gross, mud is epidemic, and true Portlanders refuse to use umbrellas even though there’s a nearly constant mist in the air (unless it’s actually raining, which it usually is).
But once you descend the mountain pass, the climate instantly changes. The trees become thin and spindly and sparse. The grass is brown over miles of barren fields with only the occasional horse or neglected barn in sight. My skin cries out for lotion and chapstick within a few hours of settling down for vacation in Central Oregon.
Whenever I visit the High Desert, a big part of me wishes I lived there. It’s so uplifting to see the sun, rather than a perma-shield of thick, grey clouds. Views of the snow-capped mountains, unblocked by layers of hills or barricades of trees, are breathtaking. Dry air — despite the cracked skin — is so much easier on clothes and shoes and homes.
Our walk through the Old Mill District was nice — the new, upscale buildings and expansive amphitheater park imply a stable, growing economy (even if I’m not quite sure there actually is one). The Deschutes River is calm and peaceful in this stretch, and I can envision the fun it offers in the summer months (and beyond, as evidenced above). But Bend felt so far away. A three-hour drive from Portland, where my friends, family, and an international airport reside. And even though I wish the sun would visit us more frequently in Portland, I do love the lush foliage that the rain brings to the western part of my state.
It’s settled then. I’ll stay in Portland, and be thankful there’s a desert retreat awaiting me over that big, beautiful, snowy mountain.