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Adjusting to Oregon Living

My friends Katie and Tyler Hurst recently relocated to Portland, Oregon. I’m excited for their new adventure but they will be definitely missed around here. To all my Portland friends, please leave comments with your suggestions of places they have to see and people they need to meet (including yourselves)!

Made in Oregon by Phillie Casablanca from Flickr

Tracking their journey from Phoenix to Portland reminded me of my first winter in Oregon. I lived in northern California for my entire life until I went to Oregon State University for college. I went through quite a culture shock. People there say “pop” instead of “soda” and they are way more accepting of other’s freakishness. And everyone’s super friendly – disturbingly so compared to California.

And it rains in Oregon – a lot. It rains from the end of October until the middle of April. In California, we don’t do much when it rained. If they did that in Oregon, the state would shut down for at least 6 months a year. Oregonians just pop their hoods up and keep walking. They don’t even carry umbrellas.  I tried carrying one for about a week and it was a pain to keep track of it.

The first winter in Oregon was the hardest. I had to adjust to the fact that it was not going to stop raining and that the sky was always gray. I became convinced that some children grow up not knowing that the sky is blue. I learned really fast to appreciate the cloud cover because if I woke up and I saw a blue sky in the winter, that meant it was bitter cold outside because there was no cloud cover to hold the heat in. (On the flip side, you get to wear really cute hat, glove, and scarf sets.)

I remember one October night during my freshman year, I was walking to dinner with my friends. It was dark and kind of drizzly. My friends were all native Oregonians. They all had their hoods down and their jackets slightly unzipped at the top. I, on the other hand, had my jacket zipped all the way up, my hood up, and I pulled my drawstrings to help keep the rain off my face. I looked like Kenny from Southpark. My friends laughed at me.

Fast-forward a few months to the beginning of spring. My parents came up from California to visit for a long weekend. They took my then-boyfriend and I on a day trip to the coast to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. They still had Keiko the whale at the time. The aquarium had wonderful outdoor exhibits and my boyfriend and I were running around looking at all the sea life. It was a bit drizzly but nothing bad. We didn’t even need our hoods up. At one point I looked back to see where my parents were and I saw my Mom – looking somewhat miserable – with her jacket zipped up, her hood up, and the drawstrings pulled. That’s when I knew I’d adjusted to Oregon living.

I loved living in Oregon – the people, the quirky independent businesses, and the general accepting culture. I don’t get back there as often as I’d like. I hope you love it there Tyler and Katie! (You may need a UV lamp to help you through your first winter when you won’t see a blue sky for weeks.)

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  1. Tor says:

    What do you think of the Tiny House movement?

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      You mean people moving into small homes like this:

      I think people have the right to chose where/how they live but in general I support the idea of living within/below your means and not being bogged down by excessive amounts of belongings. One of the things I think about when I see a big house is how long it must take to clean it. In general I prefer simple living which includes getting rid stuff I don’t need or use. If someone wants to move into a small house, I support it as long as they’re happy. If I moved into a super tiny house, I would worry that I’d get claustrophobic or cabin fever.

  2. Chris Almy says:

    I still remember the two of us watching DS9 in my dorm room at OSU and me explaining it wasn’t the 50’s anymore, so we called it “pop” now. Good times!

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      OMG! Yes – that was a standing date every Wednesday and Thursday to watch DS9 and Voyager. I thought it was so cool that you velcroed your remote controls to the wall and everything ran through your computer.

  3. Matt Racine says:

    I went to law school in Oregon after moving up from San Diego. I remember it was gorgeous until about October 15th, and then it was like someone flipped a switch and it was gray and rainy until April — just like you said. I remember after I adjusted to Oregon, I would stand outside in the rain in 40 degree weather cooking something on the BBQ, the rain hissing on the BBQ cover. 🙂

    On the bright side, all that rain makes for some incredible Spring scenery and great produce in the Willamette Valley.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing.