A lot of these observations are going to seem obvious to those of you who actually get out of town and travel once in a while, but ....what the hell...it's my blog.
It's my blog and I'll do what I want to, do what I want to, do what I want to. You would blog too, if it happened to you......
Obvious Observation one. I was surprised to find a nice computer in the motel lounge. Pretty standard, I take it, but an eye opener to me.
When Linda and I go on these 3 day trips, we try not to take the direct route anymore, the fastest or easiest route. We try to find a secondary route, which takes us places we haven't been, which might take an extra half an hour and be windier and twistier, but more scenic. If there is a little town that requires going off the main road, we do that. Usually not much to see, but still curious.
It also tends to take us into rural Oregon. I don't care what country road you go down, there are people living back there. The question always comes up, what do they do for a living? They can't all be farmers and ranchers. Over toward Corvallis, there is still a lot of logging going on.
Obvious Observation Two. You just don't see the log trucks and evidence of logging that I grew up with in Central Oregon. I didn't realize the lack until seeing all the cut logs in the valley.
You see the obvious discrepancies in income and life-style. I hadn't realized just how 'yuppie' we've become until I compared the visitors to downtown Bend with what you see elsewhere. See, growing up, the 'Valley' was always the 'sophisticated' part of Oregon to me, but Bend has definitely caught up in some ways. I am sometimes tempted to think of lots of the newcomers as being retired folk, but you see plenty of sleek twenty and thirty somethings round here. And, as I've already mentioned, a preponderance of late model and very large SUV's and god help us, F%^@)*^ hummers.
If you stop at one of the local markets in these farm towns, people look at you as if you're tourists who got lost. As you wait in line watching people buy old fashioned artery clogging jojo's and malt beer at 10:00 in the mornings.
So that's Obvious Observation Three. There are some HUGE income discrepancies between rural and urban.
Obvious Observation Four: Most of these towns just aren't growing very fast, if at all. I was commenting to Wes that Bend only sold 109 houses in July. He laughed and said that Albany sold about 400 a year and was considered a very fast growing town. (If these numbers are wrong, it's me not Wes.) So a couple of years ago, Bend was selling almost as many houses in a month as Albany-- a fast growing town--- was selling in a year. It was obvious that most of the businesses in both downtown Albany and Corvallis had been there a long, long time. So there is stability, compared to Bend. But the creative destruction of the Bend retail also creates a vitality that is mostly missing in these towns. (I hate to be so imprecise, but Wes and I may have been talking about "housing starts" not sales, but the percentages work out to about the same....)
I always get a "WOW!" when I mention to store customers that I've been in downtown Bend for 27 years, "or 150 years in Bend years....." The same comment in Albany or Corvallis or Sweet Home doesn't even raise an eyebrow, because they are FULL of stores that have been around 20 or 30 years.
Obvious Observation Five. Not everyone wants to live in Bend, or envies us. You get a sort of mix of intrigued and horrified from most people in Oregon. I first noticed this on our trip to Lakeview. Everyone along the way said something along the lines of, "Too bad about Bend. It used to be a nice place...." I think places like Albany and Corvallis would like to fill in their downtown cores, but somehow avoid the craziness of Bend. We are an object lesson, folks.
Obvious Observation Six? I think the 'Trickle Down Theory' is playing out geographically. How are all the baby boomers going to retire? By moving down the rural chain. Big city folk can sell their houses and move to yuppified towns like Bend, Bendites can move to Baker City or LaGrande, Baker City people can move to Christmas Valley, and Christmas Valley people can move to...the desert?
It's a bit of a mind-blowing realization for someone who has always felt himself to be just scraping by to realize that I could probably liquidate the businesses, sell the house, and have enough money to go to some rural backwater and as long as I watched my pennies and never bought anything or went anywhere, actually survive without working. Not that I'd want to, still....how weird is that?
7 hours ago