I do not have a bucket list as such, but I have managed to visit 49 states in my life; and I would like to get to Louisiana to confirm through personal experience that Oregon is really the best of the bunch. I do know from experience that any place can be a great place to be if you have the right attitude. Oregon, however, has places that don’t even require a good attitude to make you feel you are blessed just to see them.
Crater Lake remains near the top of my list as the most amazing place in Oregon. A few months ago, I took a visitor to the rim; and the first question he asked as we looked at the lake was, “Is it real?” I assured him it was. I have seen the lake many times and never tire of its beauty or the feelings it inspires.
The North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River is less well-known than Crater Lake, but I was fortunate enough to live near it for a number of years. Its natural beauty is enhanced by my memories of teaching my younger children to swim in it, jumping off its rocks, or fishing for trout in its pools. The water is so cold that even in the hottest days of summer it burns your skin when you jump in.
All of Oregon’s wilderness areas are worth visiting, and I’m not sure I can name a favorite. Anyone looking for spiritual guidance can probably find it at one of the many lakes, creeks, rivers, mountains, or other special places in a nearby wilderness area. Some of my fondest memories are of hiking through forests or looking up at a mountain as the sunset casts a red glow across a glacier. A friend who introduced me to mountain climbing many years ago recently observed that it is a very selfish pursuit. I think he’s right given the worry it causes our families, but the experience also adds a dimension to our lives that would be hard to replace.
Our coast, canyons, deserts, and countless other special places make Oregon an extraordinary state. Years ago, a visitor observed that we are fortunate to live in one of the great places on Earth; and he hoped we would have the wisdom to preserve it. A recent hike into the Jefferson Wilderness Area confirmed we have done many things well, despite the inevitable mistakes. I told my hiking companion I didn’t just want to be in the wilderness that day, I needed to be there. I’m grateful for the decisions that have maintained these areas and hope we will all be inspired to maintain them for succeeding generations.