September 16, 2012

I’ll Take Oregon: A Love Story-Tori Minard

I fell for Oregon at sixteen while visiting my grandmother in Springfield. I was accustomed to the stunted trees of my home town, Anchorage, Alaska. The magnificent oaks, maples, and Douglas firs in the Willamette Valley astonished me, captured my heart.
Years later, while living in Portland, I read a letter to the editor of The Oregonian—the big newspaper in these here parts—complaining bitterly about what slackers we Oregonians are. According to the writer, a guy who’d moved here from New York City, we could do great things if we’d just get our denim-clad butts in gear and start whizzing around like those industrious East Coast folks he’d left behind.
I had to laugh. Dude, that’s what we love about Oregon. We don’t have to whiz around in designer suits.
At the time, I wanted to write a letter in response to him, but somehow I never got around to it. That’s the slacker way. Anyhow, I figure this is my big chance, so here it is.
Sir, if you dislike our blue-jeans and flannel-shirts slacker attitude so much, perhaps you will consider taking your high-octane, Armani-suited self back to New York.
No offense meant to any NYC readers out there; some day I hope to visit your marvelous city.
Oregon is marvelous, too, in quite a different way than the East Coast metroplex. For example, we don’t steal parking spaces here, as I’ve observed happening in several eastern states. It simply isn’t done. It’s not nice to steal, you know.
The shopping and world-class museums are limited—although Portland has an excellent art museum and decent shopping, the rest of the state isn’t anything to shout about—but we do have this amazing stuff called clean air and, weirdly, there’s open country between towns.
We’re also in possession of Powell’s City of Books, a beloved multi-story, whole-city-block wonderland of the printed word. It’s so big they color-code their rooms and give away maps so you don’t get lost. It’s one of the things I miss most about Portland, having moved to the southern Willamette Valley about six years ago.
Oregon’s broad diversity of climate and habitat includes enormous conifer forests and oak savannahs, a stunning coastline with sheer cliffs, beaches and picturesque lighthouses, alpine slopes in the Cascades, which have snow year round on their highest peaks, and a little-known but vast dry area east of the mountains.   
We have a thriving wine industry and many summer events, including the well-known Oregon Country Fair and the Faerieworlds Festival. The Oregon Country Fair is a place where the sixties never died. It’s got a cosmic hippie groove, is full of arts and crafts, live music, dance and other performances. For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects is the wild costumes people wear. It’s better than Halloween.
I haven’t been to Faerieworlds yet, but if you’re interested in folk music and faerie lore it’s a major event you might want to attend. Both are held in the countryside near Eugene, a Willamette Valley town known for its track stars, summer Olympics trials, and as the birthplace of Nike.
Then there’s the arid grassland in the middle of the state, a place where little more than juniper trees, sage and rabbit brush will grow without intensive irrigation. You may have heard it rains a lot in Oregon. That’s only true of the coast and Willamette Valley. In Central Oregon, it’s almost desert dry.
I’ve seen herds of pronghorn there, and wild mustangs, and Basque shepherds taking their flocks through the Ochoco Mountains. The prairies in Central Oregon are still home to buckaroos—local for cowboys—who manage great herds of cattle.
The Oregon Star Party takes place in the Ochocos, just east of Prineville. Hundreds of amateur astronomers like my husband trek from all over the country to this rough camping event held at the new moon on BLM land with no permanent amenities. If you want water up on Indian Springs Prairie, you haul it in yourself.
They come because Central Oregon has some of the darkest skies in the country. A small population means no light pollution. You can see the sky as it was meant to be seen. One year at OSP, it was so dark I couldn’t make out my own feet. But when I looked up, there was the Milky Way, stretched out overhead like a vast ribbon of white gauze across the midnight sky.
I’m afraid New York can keep its museums and eighty-nine-star restaurants and Wall Street. I’ll take Powell’s, the Milky Way, a herd of pronghorn, and a bunch of flannel-shirted slackers.
In fact, I love Oregon so much most of my books are set here, at least in part. I have a fourth book in the Legends Of The Dark Empire series, In The House Of Hades, coming soon. You can find my paranormal romances as e-books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the iBookstore, and other online stores, and in trade paperback at Amazon.
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(pictures provided by author)


  1. Sounds like a great place. Thanks for

  2. Personally, I prefer jeans and flannel shirts. Oregon is one of those places I haven't been, but want to visit. You've upped my interest in doing so. Nice plug for your state.

  3. Yes, Oregon is a lovely state, especially driving north along the Pacific Coast. I'm a born and bred New Yorker,as you know from several blogs ago, and yes we do move faster, talk faster, and dress more formally, but that's the nature of this great country - diversity. Last word from this New Yorker, I cried for the barren wastelands that were once beautiful Oregon Forests, hidden behind the thin layer of trees along the highways, staged to fool the eye. But, yes Oregon is a beautiful state and a place where I once considered living and still think about. Lots of luck with your books.

  4. Hi, Allison! Thanks for coming by.

  5. Sounds wonderful. I would love the slacker way of life. that book store sounds amazing. Thanks so much for sharing.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  6. Yeah, Fran, there has been clear-cutting in Oregon. It's sad--industrialization has hit every state in the nation, even my birth state, Alaska. That's modern life, something we all have to take responsibility for. There's still a lot of real forest left here, though, and I hope we'll protect it into the future.


  7. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Debby. And Powell's is amazing--definitely check it out if you're ever in Portland.

  8. Oregon is a lovely state. I loved their mountains and their beaches.

  9. Howdy, Neighbor (from Washington!)
    Oregon is a beautiful state, lots to do and see, and no sales tax! Congrats on all the books you've had published.

  10. Annette, you are a panelist for the books a d gifts Local Authors Day this Sunday along with some other writers and publishers. Looking forward to meeting you on Sept 23 at 1:00-3:00 pm in Seward. For people too far away from Seward NE, you can view the Local Authors Event LIVE from 1:00-300. Visit to watch live and listen in.

    Dennis Kahl
    UNL Extension Educator

  11. I love Beverly Cleary's Ramona series, set in Oregon.


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