Warm weather and a great trip to the Columbia Gorge last week reminded me again of why Oregon is a great place to live. I have lived in Oregon most of my life and have divided that time almost equally between the east and west sides of the Cascades. The sunny days in Central and Eastern Oregon compete against the green landscape we enjoy in the valley, to make the whole state live up to the Pacific Wonderland slogan that used to appear on our license plates.
I learned long ago that any place can be good or bad depending on my attitude toward it. What makes a place special probably has more to do with our relationships with the people around us than the landscape. I think, however, that it’s easier to maintain good relationships in a place where scenic beauty restores our outlook and reminds us of our good fortune.
I took the picture above with my cell phone after hiking up the Mitchell Point trail on the Oregon side of the Gorge with former City Manager Steve Bryant. He has introduced me to some amazing places over the years at the cost of having to keep up with him on some really steep slopes. My wife has also been a great hiking companion who rarely complains when I lure her into an outdoor adventure. She even enjoyed the zip line experience at Skamania Lodge, which includes about two hours of sliding down seven cable runs from tree to tree above the Gorge.
We live in a remarkable place that carries with it a responsibility to maintain it for those who follow. We should all be grateful for our enlightened predecessors who recognized the importance of restoring forests, cleaning up rivers, protecting scenic areas, building trails, and generally keeping the place special for future generations.
I like to believe we are doing our part in Albany by working to maintain open space and natural areas while creating livable space for residents and businesses. Maintaining the scenic beauty of the state will not be possible without the resources prosperous communities contribute to the effort. I believe Oregon is even more beautiful today than it was when I was younger because of increased prosperity and better recognition of the need to protect scenic areas.
My plan for the remainder of the spring and the coming summer is to get out and enjoy all that is available to us. Whether it’s hiking through old growth forests or fishing an alpine lake, we have extraordinary opportunities close at hand.