December 27, 2003

A Drive Through Western Oregon

Some days I just have to get out of the city.

My Italian friend Giorgio inspired me. He visited us for Christmas (in Boise) and desperately wanted to drive in the countryside. “I need to see the American West,” he said. “This is all so exotic to me.”

Venice, Rome, and little Italian hill towns are old hat to him. 300-foot tall Evergreen spires are like trees on another world.

So we drove through the high desert and up into the mountains. “It looks like Lord of the Rings here” he said. I could see what he meant. The region around Boise looks a lot like Rohan.

Today I took a drive from my own city of Portland to the Pacific. I left the lush Willamette Valley behind, climbed into snow in the Coast Range mountains, and hit the beach as the sun came out. I tried to see my countryside through the eyes of a foreigner. I’ve lived in Western Oregon for almost 30 years, so it’s hard. But the beauty of this place still astonishes all the same.






Haystack Rock.jpg

All photos copyright Michael J. Totten

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 27, 2003 11:47 PM

Haystack Rock cool, do they still have the sand castle contests. Took part of one many years ago, Seals at play was our entry. Took judges choice, what a blast.

Posted by: wayne at December 28, 2003 01:38 AM

As a transplanted midwesterner slumming on the east coast, my eyes are foreign enough. Those are some beautiful shots.

I particularly like the shot of the trestle. Is it still used? Where is it? I have an amateur interest in western railraod history -- looks pretty cool.

Posted by: harry at December 28, 2003 08:02 AM


I don't know if the tressle is still used. It is about 20 miles west of Forest Grove, 5 miles north of Hwy 26.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2003 10:24 AM

those beautifully snow-capped pines make a transplanted californian's heart teeter a bit, i have to confess. living in the bay has many advantages, but enjoying four seasons isn't one of them.

Posted by: harm d. at December 28, 2003 01:06 PM

Hard D,

I have to drive into the mountains to enjoy the fourth season. We don't really get Winter in Portland. We get three months of late Fall followed by three months of early Spring. It's been five years since snow has accumulated around my house.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2003 01:11 PM

Beautiful country. Spent last October in Netarts Bay. Still trying to get down to Bandon Dunes and a return trip to Bend.

Posted by: Bird Dog at December 28, 2003 02:43 PM

Those are great shots Mike. The only thing is that it just gives me one more part of the county to visit. It's going to take a lifetime to see it all.

Posted by: Scott at December 28, 2003 07:45 PM

Nice shots. What sort of camera were these taken with?

Posted by: Graham at December 28, 2003 10:06 PM


It's a two-year old digital camera. Nothing special. Everything on the market today is surely better.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 28, 2003 11:24 PM

It's been five years since snow has accumulated around my house.

Sheesh, Michael, what have you said?? There's three inches of the white stuff now at my house, and rising rapidly... (I'm at Taylor's Ferry and SW 52nd)

Posted by: Brian Swisher at December 29, 2003 08:36 AM

Yes, I just happen to have snow around my house today for the first time in five years. Bad timing on posting the above, eh? It must have started snowing an hour after I posted it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 29, 2003 09:01 AM

Ha! I'm just glad it's not raining for once. :)

Posted by: karrie at December 29, 2003 01:08 PM

Nice stuff Michael.

AISB 'taint the camera--it's the eye.

Posted by: Stephen at December 30, 2003 03:59 PM

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member


"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere

Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com

News Feeds


Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button


Tip Jar


Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn