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East Coast, West Coast are worlds apart

Maybe you’ve all heard this before, but wow! What a difference there is between the East and West coasts of the United States.

I grew up in New England and became familiar with the beaches between Florida and Maine. I also lived in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada. The warm Gulf Stream waters flow northward in the Bay of Fundy, warming New Brunswick’s eastern coastline, but staying further off Nova Scotia’s shores, making it just plain freezing.

Recently, while riding in an elevator, I overheard a woman say that Hawaii was the only place in the United States where you could actually swim in the ocean other than, maybe, Florida. So I enlightened her and would like to think she’s enjoying the surf on Cape Cod right now.

But it’s not just the water temperature and undertow that’s different. Those great boulders that dot the water all along the Oregon coast are magnificent, and the drive through the mountains along Highway 101 is spectacular. Maine comes the closest to matching Oregon — including the cold water — but the trees and mountains are bigger here. And, of course, we have low, low humidity here. It’s possible to sit by the pool on a 90-degree day and not melt.

When my daughter moved here with her husband and young son, she called and told me the Portland area and coastal Oregon all the way down to Gold Beach was “majestic.” She was right. My first visit just over two years ago made me realize that this was the place I wanted to be. And it wasn’t just the scenery. My husband and I had retired to a small southern town, and we had begun to miss being close to a city. Portland isn’t the largest city I’ve lived in, but it’s got everything you want and more, including a symphony orchestra and good theater. And the people are welcoming — downright friendly. Our experience in the South was, “You’re not from around here, are you?” There wasn’t even a follow-up of, “Where are you from?”

I moved to the Lake Oswego/Mountain Park area last August, about a year after my husband died, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But a year later, I have a number of new friends, and I’m actually pretty busy — in a pleasant way. And the view from my condo balcony is wonderful.

Oregonians’ sensitivity to climate change and the need to do what we can to preserve our planet is also uplifting. And I must say, I have never tasted fresh fruit as sweet as what local farms supply.

In fact, when I mentioned to a friend back east that you don’t have to put sugar on the strawberries, she was skeptical. I do wish, however, that we could cut down the two trees that spoil my view of Mount Hood.

So, I say to those of you who like to travel visit the East Coast, swim in the warmish ocean, enjoy the lobsters in Maine, dig some clams in Massachusetts, visit Boston and New York. But when you come back home, revel in the majesty that is Oregon!

Donna Needham is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.