Welcome to Oregon.
For as much as I see those signs, it lacks the same resonance as distinctive signs like Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas or Welcome to Some Warm Coastal Town. Oregon doesnt seem like a Welcome to kind of place. Its more a Welcome back type of locale, requiring local knowledge to pass through.
It was spring break last week, and the majority of us vacated the premises, myself included, heading to the Atlantic coast of Florida in St. Lucie County.
Airports were a mess of traffic, with the lines outside security growing to double or triple what youd normally find, while arrivals remained at the baseline. By the Friday before school got out, most of the classes were at half capacity, and students and teachers alike practically counted the minutes.
But despite all of that anticipation, its times like spring break, sitting by the pool, 70-something degrees outside, that I remember how much I appreciate Oregon, in all its cold-weather, rainy glory.
There are approximately 76 bug bites running the length of my legs, and a few more peppering the rest of my body. I may be an anomaly when it comes to the sheer number of times I am bitten, but regardless, bugs are not pleasant things. When compared to any other region of the country, the fact remains that Oregon, despite occasional swells in the mosquito population in mid-July, simply doesnt have the breadth and depth of bugs youll find elsewhere.
So Oregon doesnt have bugs, you say. But you know what it does have? Rain. Beyond trees, its probably what were known for the best. And, with begrudging respect, I will acknowledge that the record-setting year of rain weve had so far has been pretty miserable. But I will also raise the point that humidity is arguably just as bad.
Humidity is the quickest way to make a good day miserable. In Oregon, when rain pours down from the sky, we put on a raincoat and go about our daily activities. But in a humid place, it looks beautiful from inside, but outside it is hot and sticky and generally unpleasant. Im sure that locals adapt to humidity in the same way we have to rain, but when abruptly introduced, it has a tendency to bring all plans to a halt, transforming a day into a lazy daze of trips to and from the lawn chair.
On some level, Ill take the rain any day. With the rain, youre under no assumptions that the weather outside will be not rainy. With humidity, it looks deceptively nice.
A lack of bugs and rain over humidity hardly qualify Oregon as a spot among tourist destinations, but Oregon remains remarkably accessible with local knowledge. Its hard to argue a case against a state with such a wealth and variety of outdoor activities, coupled with the accessibility to good food. I like Oregon, a lot, actually. Im always happy to come back to it.
Thats not to say that Im not going to be excited to leave again though, come July. As far as home bases go, Oregon really is one of the great ones. Plenty of my peers will, come August and September, be moving down to Corvallis and Eugene, while I haul possessions down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Any quick observations will tell you that the University of Alabama has its own sizeable population of bugs, and a humidity level that averages higher than any you would see here. Im excited for the change, but Ill certainly miss home as well. And really, who wouldnt? No bugs and rain are key components in an ideal home base.