Sometimes I wonder how many amazing things are just around the corner in day to day life, that I will perhaps never know of. It’s something I think about a lot, which has driven me to be more observant in my quotidian comings and goings. Maybe all it takes is a few extra seconds of looking at an interesting landmark in the distance, or pulling a quick U-turn because of an unexpected sight or sound, or reading the flyers at the local coffee shop (I once got to sit in on an intimate gathering with Noam Chomsky at a cafe in Cambridge for this very reason).
I have long felt that our little corner of the northwest must be holding onto some incredible secrets, despite the lack of formal tourism. I have gone on numerous local scouting missions with moderate success. This week, however, the scouting paid off triple!
Discovery 1: The eagle (5 minutes from home)
As we drive over the Lewis and Clark bridge we have been able to catch fleeting glimpses of a bald eagle nest and it’s proprietors. This week I finally walked out onto the bridge, which is not the most pedestrian friendly stretch of road. I put up my tripod on the narrow shoulder and pretended I didn’t notice the heavy traffic, including logging trucks, that was six feet from my camera, and I spent half an hour waiting for the eagle to strike a pose at the same time the wind blew the leafy branches just far enough to the side. The result: maybe not the stuff of National Geographic, but certainly something I as an amateur can smile about.
Discovery 2: The beach (20 minutes from home)
On Route 30 heading east from Rainier there is a spot near the highway that has long intrigued Jaehee and me. A gravel pullout where there are always several vehicles parked near a culvert that passes under the train tracks. We passed by it for the umteenth time this week, but this time Jaehee couldn’t stand the mystery any more. We turned back, parked and walked through the culvert. A few hundred yards farther we came to an amazing stretch of sandy beach along the Columbia River, lined with yellow wild flowers and looking out to stunning views of both Mt Hood and Mt Adams.
Discovery 3: The waterfall (15 minutes from home)
We all know that Oregon is home to countless waterfalls of all shapes, volumes and sizes. We love to explore them. But usually we drive more than an hour to the gorge or the Cascades for quality waterfalls. This week I stumbled across a website called Northwest Waterfall Survey, which shows several significant falls nearby. We took an afternoon to find the most impressive of them: Beaver Falls. It took a few tries, but we eventually succeeded. And it blew our minds! A serious little slice of paradise, fifteen minutes from home, that we easily could have missed.
The moral of the story isn’t difficult to extrapolate. Life is short; the world is full of wonder. Get out and discover what makes your corner of this planet amazing!