Photo of Mt. Emily near La Grande, Oregon, from website http://www.visitlagrande.com
I live in La Grande, a town of about 13,000 people in the northeastern part of Oregon. La Grande is in the Grande Ronde Valley. It is home to Eastern Oregon University, a four-year state college where my father worked as the head librarian for many years. I was born here about 51 years ago, lived here until I was 20, went away to college and then to a job in Port Angeles, Washington before moving back to La Grande in 1989.
My purpose in writing this blog is to introduce readers to this beautiful area of the world, sometimes directly through travelogues, and sometimes less directly through my personal observations. Although I have lived here for 39 of my nearly 51 years and call this area home, I often feel like an outsider because I do not see things the same as most of the people around here do. While much of what I post here will be complimentary and beautiful to look at, not everything will be nice. I love eastern Oregon, but I will write about it warts and all.
You will find me registered to vote as a Green or a Democrat, both minority parties in this part of the world. I write an occasional letter to the local paper expressing dismay about George W. Bush or some similar abomination, but lately I have felt a need to think more about local matters than national issues. Progressives used to not do so badly in this part of Oregon until about 30 years ago, and since then the area's voters have been taken in by the "religious right", the special interests who are anti-environmentalist because it affects their bottom line, and by those groups who are concerned about land-use issues. Anyway, I tend to keep my mouth shut around here for the most part. I'm not going to go changing too many minds, and it's usually just easier to get along.
Sometimes I feel like an outsider around here in other ways. I don't care if other people hunt, but I don't hunt... I would rather watch the wildlife and try to photograph it. I own a rifle, but haven't fired it in over 25 years; that doesn't mean I might not get it out and fire it at a tin can on a fencepost someday. I have never logged and I detest poor forest management, but I view the timber industry as necessary to the economic survival of many people in this area. I used to fish with my kids when they lived at home, but I have never been very good at it... I often like to describe myself as "the Woody Allen of fishermen". I don't ride motorcycles or all-terrain vehicles in the mountains around here, as many locals do.
So what DO I do? I spend time with my family, work, play music, read books, blog, surf the internet, watch the tube, work in the yard, and get out and about to look at wildlife (birds, mainly) and scenery when I can. I used to do a lot of hiking and backpacking; since surgeries on my left knee in 2000 and 2004 and a spinal fusion (discs L4 and L5 in 2007), it hasn't been as easy to hike, and I have only done a couple of brief backpack trips... but I am hoping I can still do some of those things and share some photos and experiences with you.
I plan to take pictures around this end of the state and post them on this blog, with descriptions of the places I visit. There will be a lot of photos of the Grande Ronde Valley and Union County, and neighboring Umatilla, Baker and Wallowa Counties. I will venture south to Malheur, Grant and Harney Counties from time to time. With a bit of luck, I might even get into central Oregon, and there might even be some shots of SE Washington, western Idaho, western Oregon and other places. Who knows!
This is a very scenic part of the world, and this treasure trove of beauty is unknown to many. One purpose of this blog will be to provide some information for people who might wish to visit eastern Oregon or for those who simply want to know more about it.
From time to time, photos which appear here may be taken by people other than me. If I use other people's photos, I will acknowledge and thank them for the use of their pictures.
I will gradually add links to other sites which will provide you with more information and pictures.
I won't post very often, but when I do I will let you know on my other blog. I will post soon about La Grande, its history including what it is like today, and my feelings about it. There will be a post soon about my weekly Wednesday commute from La Grande to Halfway, OR and back. I will undoubtedly get a few in this summer about the Grande Ronde Valley and La Grande's neighboring communities of Cove, Union, Elgin, Imbler, Island City and Summerville. There will probably be at least one post about the beautiful Wallowa Valley in Wallowa County, and hopefully a few about some personal favorite areas that are within an hour or two of where I live.