Until five years ago, Oregon and I were pretty much strangers.
I left it alone, it left me alone, and that was basically that.
But things changed.
That was how it started.
This past summer, just six weeks ago, Colin and I borrowed a friend's RV and threw our boys in the back with a bunch of pillows, some rain gear, a basket of dry goods, and a deep-seated thirst for adventure. We drove up the California coast and crossed the border into the state I'd come to love, one I desperately wanted my kids to see. Oregon and I were dating now, and it was time to introduce it to my family.
When you live in Northern California, Oregon exerts a certain pull, a green, misty, magnetic allure.
For eight days, we crisscrossed the state, covering hundreds of miles. Ate oysters in Newport as sea lions yelped. Picked blueberries. Hiked through sun-dappled canopies of tall, lush trees.
We passed a freak snowstorm, admired huge rock formations out in the ocean, and whizzed across a bridge too slim for our RV. (Don't ask.) We rode a boat on spectacular Crater Lake, then got thumped by rain, and hail, as we drove perilously round its rim. We slept in RV parks and trekked along rivers and witnessed waterfalls crashing to earth. We ate in restaurants, in the RV, over a campfire.
We saw a play, but not the play we'd bought tickets for. Sometimes these things happen.
We did all we could.
Then we came home.
To a new school year and to back-to-work. To the end of summer's slowly descending curtain.
I wasn't back long when an email came through.
The sender? Travel Oregon.
Was I free the next week to explore Oregon's southern coast? The towns of North Bend, Coos Bay, Bandon, and Charleston?
These are spots I'd just blown through with my family, but hadn't had time to explore. We'd been too busy in Portland, in Parkdale, in Newport, in Ashland. Too set on seeing the sexy draws: the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, Multnomah Falls.
Such a strange coincidence.
Such odd timing.
I was just there, I told my husband.
"Go," he said.
I said yes the way one says yes to a second slice of pie. Quickly, with no time for questioning or regret.
So. I have a travel series coming up here about where to go and what to see along Oregon's south coast. I'll pepper in to-dos from my summer RV trip, too, since it's still so fresh in mind. The south coast trip was comped -- I paid for nothing -- but the prior trip was not. They may run together in spots. But don't fret: if there's one thing I hope you know about me by now, it's that my opinions are not for sale. You'll get the straight dope throughout, warts and all.
A real relationship merits no less.
It's beautiful, and complex, and worth celebrating out loud.