I grew up at the end of Roanoke Ave. in the lower west hills. I could go out the front door, over the fence, and follow a line of vacant lots and gullies all the way to the top of the west hills and have to cross only two roads. From there I could pretty much go east, south or north without running into anybody.
It was my stomping grounds with my friends. We were free to roam. When I was 13 or so, my Dad and I built a motorbike, and my friend Steve Davies had his little bike, and we would zip all over the place, as far as Shevlin Park. No houses, of course. But more to the point, no one hassled us, even the police. It was fine as long as we didn't do any harm.
Pedro's comments in my last blog about being hassled by 'security guards' in black near Tetherow reminded me of an incident years back that was one of the first sign to me that things had really fundamentally changed in Bend.
I was showing Linda some of my old childhood paths, driving some back roads in the west hills (when there were still some back roads), and we came across two women and dogs waving at us frantically. We stopped.
"This is a walking trail!" one woman said, with her eyes glinting in anger.
"I'm sorry! We came through a back way and apparently there were no signs."
"Of course there were signs. This is 'private' property."
Now, I was horribly embarrassed, but it was an honest mistake. But what I most remember is the cold look in both womens' eyes that seemed to be saying to me:
You don't belong here.....
All that roaming territory is gone now. Covered by subdivisions.
When I lived in the student ghetto in Eugene, I had to get in my car and drive a minimum of 40 minutes to reach a place that was neither private property or a public park. I really felt hemmed in.
Here in Bend, I'm only ten minutes by car away from public lands. But it used to be, I could walk out my front door and not worry about getting on anyone's nerves.
The price of progress, I suppose.
2 days ago