I fell in love with Oregon all over again.
Marrying an American means travelling back to the States to visit family is a semi-regular occurrence and one that happily sates my wanderlust. However, it’d been five long years since the kids and I had been back to my home-away-from-home, so I was in dire need of a forest green fix. And I got it in spades.
Oregon’s forests are a thing of beauty: wild, seemingly endless and vivid green with a lush, permanently damp smell unlike the pungent petrichor of the Australian bush. Our two-week holiday in June began with typically cool, overcast Oregon weather, despite purportedly being summer. But it improved over time with some beautiful, sunny, warm days.
I found myself geeking out on the diverse plant-life in an embarrassing fashion taking a plethora of photos of summer flowers, plants, trees, trees and more trees. While I am no stranger to these landscapes, they are still foreign enough as to feel new to me each and every time I experience them.A remarkable effect that we certainly don’t experience at home in Western Australia is that of the rain shadow caused by a mountain range. The contrast in landscape is stark as you go over the Cascade Range. It’s wet, lush and green on the west side with its own unique botany. This changes dramatically to a comparably dry, high desert landscape on the east with a completely different set of plants, trees and rainfall.
We spent most of the first week on the east side of the Cascade Range exploring Sun River, the city of Bend, hiking Sparks Lake and Mount Bachelor. We managed to find the slushy white remnants of winter on its slopes, which was enough to satiate the boys’ appetite for a snowball fight. The view from the top of the chairlift of the green valley floors, lakes and distant mountains was breathtaking.
Based back in Portland, we took a day trip to Mount St Helens over the state border into Washington. The volcano famously erupted in May 1980 causing terrible devastation. It was an incredible sight to behold. However, the only seismic activity that registered was my kids’ excitement at feeding blueberries to a wild chipmunk in the carpark. Volcano-schmano. Touching a chipmunk: AWESOME!
The Columbia River Gorge also offers awe-inspiring scenery despite its terrible scars from the forest fires of 2017 that burned 50,000 acres, which were caused by a dumb teenager and his firecrackers. We hiked with some friends around nearby Latourelle Falls and I just revelled in the beauty of the emerald forest.
I even spied a fairy home tucked into the moss of a tree trunk near the waterfall.
Indeed it was a magical experience.