Last year my wife and I spent a week in Oregon, staying in both Portland and Eugene, and making trips through the Columbia River Gorge, to Cannon Beach/Haystack Rock, and a few other places.

I think I live in the wrong state.

I’m not a fan of heat.  Where I live, on the Gulf Coast in Texas, there are essentially two seasons:  Summer…and not-Summer

Summer lasts the majority of the year.  I was curious recently and saw that we get seven months (April through October) where the average daily high is 79 degrees Fahrenheit and above.  While 80-degree weather may not sound so bad, several of those months have 90 and 100+ degree daytime temps.

There’s also the humidity.

High temperatures and high humidity are probably not bad in a sauna.  But who really wants to live in a sauna?  Nighttime temperatures offer little respite – June through September have temperatures “cool down” to a simmering mid to high-70s at night.  Perfect for that steaming sweaty walk to end a sweltering day!

We get a typical average of about 5 inches of rainfall every month, year-round.  Other places have a wet season and a dry season.  The Willamette Valley in Oregon has wet winters and relatively dry and mild summers.

I’ve had people sagely advise me to “spend some time in the winter in Portland or Eugene” apparently in the belief that I’m a lizard who likes basking in hot weather and would be turned off by *gasp* winter.  I’ve spent winter in Ohio in sub-zero, I’ve camped in the snow before, and I’ve spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ old (uninsulated) house where it’s been in the teens or twenties inside the house before you crank up a propane heater to temporarily warm a room to maybe 50 degrees when you get up in the morning.  So when I tell people that cold weather doesn’t bother me so much, I really do mean that.  I mean, I wouldn’t be thrilled spending winters in Minneapolis, or Verkhoyansk, Siberia either.  But the Willamette Valley’s winters – if anyone were to believe the extensive and widely available climate and temperature and rainfall and snow data – doesn’t match an Ohio winter with its snow that can fall between October and April.

I found Oregon to be breathtakingly beautiful.  We have few mountains in Texas – and they’re quite far away, tucked in the far western part of the state.  Otherwise, some rolling hills in central Texas.

I liked the mountains, the variety of landscapes we passed through in our 800 miles or so of driving, and we were amazed at the sheer volume and variety of flowers.  It’s nice to be able to drive a couple hours and be in a different landscape and climate.  In Texas, it can take an hour or more just to cross any of the four large metropolitan areas (Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio).  Houston especially has never-ending environs that can stretch for endless distances.  According to ever-helpful Wikipedia:

According to the United States Census Bureau, the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area has a total area of 10,062 square miles (26,060 km²), 8,929 sq mi (23,130 km2). is land area, while 1,133 sq mi (2,930 km2). is water area.; slightly smaller than Massachusetts and slightly larger than New Jersey.

So it’s sort of nice to be able to drive out of the center of a city like Portland and actually get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time (without having to leave at 4AM on a weekend).  I also found Oregon traffic to be exceedingly nice.  So thanks, Oregon drivers!

Anyway, here is a sampling of pictures we took: