Sunday, March 29, 2009
The Wild, Wet West
The West Coast has something the East Coast lost eons ago: vast expanses of wild and free coastline.
Mile after mile we tumble down from Washington to northern California, the angry, cold Pacific licking our right side and redwood forests and birch meadows hugging our left.
We see things we will never see on the East Coast.
I've never seen fog rushing and tumbling over the road like smoke from a raging fire. Until today. It's 48 degrees, and we see kids, in bathing suits, wrapped in towels, huddled around campfires on the beach. We see a herd of wild Roosevelt Elk grazing inside a pasture with two horses. We see trees so big around they look like walls. We see mountains of rock rise out of the sea then disappear into the mist.
In the Pacific Northwest, on Highway 101, we find no condos or multi-million dollar complexes pushing skyward, or angling out to the sea. We see some new development (in Oregon we see eight or nine really big houses all lined up in a row, oceanfront), but most of what we pass has been there a while, since the '50s or '60s.
Maybe the towns want the seaside undeveloped.
Or maybe there's no money in spiffing up a place where the sun visits less often than the rain.
A woman I meet from Rome, NY, who now works in Coos Bay, OR, misses the East Coast and hopes to return one day. The West Coast is too wet for her. Rain is better than snow, she laments, but there's a vibrancy to the snowy East that's dampened in the West.
I see her point. I feel the difference, too. I like that it's different.