This morning we packed all of the things we had accumulated from a year of fourth floor studio apartment living in Wilsonville, Oregon into a 5×8 U-Haul. It is amazing how much stuff one accumulates, even in such a cramped space. Dinner is planned tonight with our dear friend Gladys followed by church tomorrow morning and evening with Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah. After that, we are off to Texas.
It has amazed us how everything worked out for us to return to Oregon, but then nothing worked out after that for us to stay. We are not too excited about spending too much more time in an apartment so we are working hard to find a house where we can settle down for the long term. In the meantime, we look forward to some time with Christian in Tempe next week.
I am scheduled to go out to lunch with my manager and several others today as it is my last day of work at my job here in Oregon. These are always melancholy things. My theory is that work is never as bad as one thinks it is while they are in it, but never really quite as good as they remember it after they leave. The work in this job I am leaving is not nearly as “bleeding edge” as I hoped, but it has been a great place to be to have the chance to spend a year close to Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah. I am very grateful for my time here, but look forward to some new and very interesting challenges.
We pack this weekend. We do not have much because we never got out of our fourth floor studio apartment into a house. Everything should fit into a 5×8 U-Haul trailer. Lorena took our Honda CRV to get a trailer hitch so we are all set to go. I pick up the trailer and we plan to pack tomorrow. Kiwi the remaining twin cat sister, Lorena and I should be on the road to Tempe for a visit with Christian early Monday morning.
We really are going to Texas to try to balance family responsibilities. We have wonderful friends here in Oregon, I am a native son, we love the unparalleled beauty and we even love the weather (most of the time). That being said, Davy Crockett’s famous quote when he resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives resonates with us. He said, “…you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.” The reason it resonates with us has to do with the draconian land use laws, the horrible Portland freeways, the outrageous new minimum wage that will drive small business into the ground, the abysmal public education system and a coarsening libertine culture that is abortion friendly, anti-traditional marriage and, frequently anti-Christian.
Oregon, we love you and our roots are here, but unless law, culture and our personal responsibilities change, to paraphrase Oregon governor Tom McCall, “We will come visit again and again… But for heaven’s sake, we don’t plan to come here to live.”
Lorena and I struggle a little right now with a decision about where to live. We have thought about heading up to Seattle to be closer to Kelly. We went up there last week to see her. Washington is a beautiful and amazing state. Seattle is a beautiful and amazing city. We love all the water of the Puget Sound. There are lots of good restaurants and stores. There are lots of reasons to move to Seattle, but there is the down-side, too. The politics of Seattle are not quite as crazy and deeply immoral as the politics of Portland, but they are pretty crazy and immoral and they have that nasty little anarchist thing going for them, too. Kind of like Eugene, but bigger. We definitely could live there, but we could live a lot of other places.
We actually took the train from Vancouver to Seattle and then an Uber from the train station to Kelly’s apartment. The whole trip was an absolute joy. We actually think we could live happily anywhere from Vancouver up past Seattle and anywhere on the Sound. The tax situation is profoundly better in Washington than Oregon and so is the economy. Still, we have mixed feelings. We really are Oregonians heart and soul. Well, that and Mexican. Everyone we asked said the Mexican food was horrible throughout Seattle, but I cannot believe that is entirely true although I have to admit it would have been very gracious to call the Mexican food we ate Friday night even mediocre.
We are truly up in the air on all this. We have thought it would be good to have at least a half acre and maybe even an acre or two. But we also think, “Why would we do that?” I ran into this article that talks about saving money in economically hard times. It struck a chord with me. We, personally, are not even close to being on hard times, but the article was compelling–it surely feels like economic hard times could arrive to the whole country very quickly. Add to that the fact that Kelly and Christian will probably not stay where they are much longer than it takes them to finish their degrees–maybe 3-4 years, and we are even more trepidatious about this decision of what to do. We want to be as close as is reasonable to our kids.
We are thinking about it. We have decided to keep looking and expand our thinking to include smaller houses on smaller lots in places where we can walk to grocery stores, schools, restaurants and the like. Lorena has always said she could be happy just about anywhere as long is she is less than fifteen minutes from a Costco and twenty minutes from a Trader Joe’s.
It is amazing to me that the best pictures of me are almost always on my drivers license. Lorena drove me down to Woodburn yesterday to get my license transferred from North Carolina to Oregon and I am amazed at the quality and speed of service we received there. They did a great job. Oregon is one of the few places where you have to take the “written” test (on a computer) to do the transfer. The whole process was actually quite pleasant. Lorena got her license changed in Lake Oswego where the service was very bad and very, very slow.
The other amazing thing is that they gave me me old, original drivers license number from when I was 15 years old. The equally amazing part is that I still remembered it.
Our car got towed this morning because we did not have a sticker from our apartment complex to park there. Unfortunately, we had never gotten one even though we had asked repeatedly. Fortunately, if you do not count all the notarizations, hassle, faxing emailing, use of public transport and associated costs, we were not charged for the towing and storage because the apartment complex acknowledged they were the ones who caused the problem. Of course, they will not do anything about the crazy hassle they caused us, but as I tell my kids, “don’t whine!”
There was some educational benefit to this exercise. We learned that it is pretty easy to take the wildly expensive (to the tax payer–not so much for the ridership) train to Beaverton from Wilsonville. If we ever really needed to go to Beaverton, that would be a good thing. From the image Lorena took inside the train, it does not look like the train is going to make up that huge tax deficit with fares anytime soon. If the freeway system around Portland wasn’t broken so badly, they might have not ridership at all.
The one GOOD thing that came out of this was that I learned it is quite enjoyable and even convenient to walk to work. It is even a semi-safe walk. I am going to try to start making the walk to and from work as frequently as possible. That is one great way to lose weight, not only with the exercise, but with the more limited amount of time available for eating because it took you so long to walk.
Lorena went to Johnston Community College in Smithfield, North Carolina for one semester. She needed to get her transcripts sent from the four community colleges she attended to the one where she hopes to enroll in the fall in Oregon. After a little of the “interesting” style of service that is typical to the Portland area, we received the following note from Johnston Community College. We were reminded again of the tremendous refinement in large swaths of the native population in North Carolina and arguably the entire South. Not only did they do something they were not required to do that cost them some money to help us out, they admonished us and thanked us (I guess, for heeding the admonishment?). I will never not love North Carolina.
Her twenty-first birthday. Another rite of passage. What better way to spend it than with Mom eating elephant ears at the tulip farm. It doesn’t get much more Oregonian than that. I have had my complaints about the whole “do hard things” meme that is prevalent amongst the youth in certain parts of our society. My beef will all that is that it is mostly just lip service. All of us fail at this. I am not talking about people how fall of the wagon every now in then in their efforts at self improvement. What I am talking about is people who talk about doing hard things and then go get a liberal arts degree with no rigor nor future path to gainful employment. We are proud of Kelly in that regard. She is a lot like me in that staying focused on something that is not always fun, but is always hard work is difficult for us. She is doing that. This is her spring break and she has been working the whole time. There is just too much to do, it has been constantly like that for a long time now and she has four or five years left to go. We feel so fortunate she is daughter and it is an amazing thing that she is now “of age.”
We have had an amazing run of good weather in Oregon since we got here. Today started out as another bright and sunny one with temperatures supposed to get up into the low 60’s. Meanwhile, Raleigh is getting slammed with a boatload of snow. We love this picture that was taken not to far from the kids campus at North Carolina State University after only two inches of snow. Today, four inches are supposed to fall. We are still on the school-closings text list at Wake Technical Community College and everything is shut down today. There could be all out war and starvation. Keep Raleigh in your thoughts.
I have moved away from Oregon what seems like enumerable times. Every time I return I am amazed by Oregon’s unparalleled beauty, the freshness of the air and the rain in the Willamette Valley. Up until now, my thoughts after a couple of weeks in the state have generally been, “I do not remember it raining this much.” Now, though, on the way up to Oregon from Tempe, Arizona through California we drove on dry pavement and have had several days of the couple of weeks we have been here with sunny days–I took the picture in the post out the window of our apartment. There is not a cloud in the sky. I think the East Coast is getting all our precipitation. This does not bode well for the coming summer. There appears to be almost no snow pack in the mountains which means low water levels in rivers and lakes and drought in Oregon. We have even seen rationed water here in the summer under these conditions.
The other thing that seems to get a little more intense every time we return is the coarse political and social environment in the state. Assisted suicide is legal here. Think of that. Assisted suicide–something that not so long ago would have been called murder. I would expect the same kind of abuse that has occurred in Holland with euthanasia will soon come here. Oregon has some of the least restrictive abortion laws in the country along with a high abortion rate. Any place that makes it legal to kill babies, the hope of the future, is in big trouble even if you are not talking about the immorality of the practice. Marijuana will be legal in that state starting later this year. Oregon has dropped to the bottom third in terms of educational performance from a very high rank a couple of decades ago and they continue to drop. The governor who presided over much of this mess resigned in disgrace last week, only to be replaced by the avowed bi-sexual Secretary of State. Homosexual unions are legally and oxymoronically called “marriages” in Oregon. And there is much more including it status as one of the most unchurched states in the Union and the abject failure of their Obamacare implementation.
Our plan has been to look for a home to buy here in Oregon. We are going to take that very slowly now that I am reminded of how it is here. The intolerance toward “my kind” here is palpable. I have a commitment to be here for awhile so we need to make some decisions about how to meet that commitment. If something does not go sideways, we have our house sold, so we have to do something before too long. We are in a nice apartment close to my work, so we will take our time and see what happens. Right now, on Sunday morning, it is funny that I am missing the crazy good biscuits they make at McDonalds in North Carolina. It seems like they just do not have the formula right out west.
We have some mixed feelings about our return to Oregon. It is great to see old friend and there really is no other state in the union that is as beautiful. At the same time, it is hard not to despair about the draconian land use laws (we are thinking of buying a house), the state of education in the state (the homeschool students in our old ESD scored at around the 70th percentile while the government schoolers scored WAY lower–why do they let the ESD have ANYTHING to do with this), the taxes, the immoral nature of the drug, abortion and end of life laws in the state, the rain, etc. I went down to Oregon State University last week to work with some of their faculty on a project and it became VERY apparent that the level of education in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina was at a complete different and higher level. Still, I love my new job, I love my friends and family, and am looking forward to being here again for awhile.
The really cool part is I am here in time to meet up with a bunch of my church buddies for breakfast in Tigard. My buddy Curt had set it up a long time ago, not for me, that is just the way the roll in Oregon.
Lorena and I have had lots of time to reflect about our return to Oregon. We thought about moves to Arizona and Texas before we settled on Oregon. Now it just feels right. There was really no good reason to stay in North Carolina even though we loved our time here. Things just did not work out in any place but Oregon. Now that we are settled, it just feels great to be going home. There is no place on earth we think is more beautiful (of course that is a religious discussion), we understand the culture, we know our way around and we will be much closer to the kids. It is funny how, when you get away from a place you have lived and understand, it is hard to hear what other people think about the place. It is not so much that others do not have valid opinions, it is that most of them only know part of the story and the parts they do know are often wrong. Outside of the obviously backward political thinking in the state, there is no better place of with which we are acquainted (with the exception of Monterrey) on just about every level. We know that is just for us and we understand why other people like other places better, but we are Oregonians.
We went to our last Wednesday night bible study before out move last night. It is in Spanish and we will be leaving some dear friends behind when we move. Lorena and I look forward to our return to Oregon, but have talked about our time in North Carolina a lot over the last few weeks. We have been here for seven years and are leaving for work, proximity to family and for fellowship, but will always love North Carolina in general and Raleigh in particular very, very much.
We have made many, many good, life-long friends here. They, by themselves are reason to love North Carolina forever. There are just so many other things we love, they are too numerous to list, but I thought I would list just a few:
People still say please, thank you, yes ma’am and yes sir.
People wave and greet you in the neighborhood, grocery stores, in the street and everywhere else they get the chance.
The beautiful deciduous trees are nothing short of amazing.
Raleigh is the best small city in the country. Not Durham, not Cary, not Chapel Hill, not Charlotte, but Raleigh.
Charlotte. It is not Raleigh, but it IS Charlotte and that is a very good thing.
Wake Technical Community College.
North Carolina State University.
The Hunt Library at NCSU.
The Hill Library at NCSU.
The Appalachians. Westerns have a tendency to act disdainful toward these smaller mountains in the East. They are wrong.
Kitty hawk and the beaches.
The Durham Performing Arts Center.
North Carolina is friendly to homeschoolers.
RDU is the very best airport in the country.
The Krispy Kreme run.
Research Triangle Park.
Great neighbors in our great neighborhood.
Fort Bragg and the Special Forces Museums.
I have missed a lot because I am on the run, so I reserve the right to come back and add to this list.
A post over on the Powerline Blog points out an amazing video made by some concerned citizens about the ongoing state of malaise in the State of Oregon. It gives a very clear explanation of the reasons I am not willing to go back there for anything other than a visit. My company has announced they will move to Oregon next year. They would like me to go along. I think that would be a hard thing to do. I am a native son of Oregon (family first arrived in 1846 on the Applegate Trail). My parents and all my siblings live there. I still believe it is, by far, the most beautiful state in the union. It is also one of the most intolerant states in the union–especially to people with my worldview. The following is a quote from the Powerline Blog post that captures the flavor of both the video and the post itself. I especially like the last line in this quote.
Even aside from the Obamacare fiasco and Kitzhaber’s ethical problems, the state has been in relative economic decline for more than two decades, with an unemployment rate consistently above the national average and income growth lagging the national average. Its public school performance is dismal, without the usual excuses of a large low income or minority population. Yet no one seems to connect any of these difficulties to the dominance of one political party. Perhaps you’ve taken in an episode of Portlandia? Believe me, as a frequent visitor to Portland (the city where young people go to retire), it is indeed a documentary.
If you don’t want to watch the whole 30 minutes, you can find some shorter videos by the same guys on the same subject here. On the other hand, if you wonder why I did my graduate work in Texas and currently live in North Carolina, watch the whole thing.
Our last visit to Oregon gave us great pause about whether or not we should move back there. We have been gone for seven years now. We felt somewhat estranged from Oregon in general and Portland in particular. It has been difficult to put our finger on the reticence we feel about moving back, but it is definitely there. There are several smaller things that, on the surface might give us reason to prefer where we are now over Oregon. The reality is that, for us, they are minor considerations. The weather is a lot better in Raleigh–mild all year long (like Portland), but with many more days of sunshine. The metropolitan area around Raleigh features three truly superior National Research Universities while Portland features a pretty good, not great, but pretty good Regional University. All of the ones listed are better than any universities Oregon has to offer. There are lots of little things like that, but they are not the reasons that hold the most sway.
I am pretty sure both the culture in Oregon has shifted as have our cultural preferences. For all its hipness, Portland just seems more intolerant and coarse than other places where we have an opportunity live. I do not really believe the quality of writing or the truth of the content in the New York Times is very high, but they recently published an article about Portland titled Will Portland Always Be a Retirement Community for the Young? It captures a view of a part of the Portland reality that rings true. The certainly did not capture the whole reality, the nuances of old Oregon culture being so divorced from contemporary Portland culture, it would be hard for anyone to understand. Still, it is quite a good article that I recommend to anyone considering a move to, not just Portland, but Oregon in general. The description of Portland in this article is probably quite attractive to many, but does a good job of explaining why we are not so interested in moving back.
We are still in the throes of making a decision. We know we have to move West both for family and work. We are just happy that Raleigh, North Carolina is such an awesome place to live while we work through it.
Ten years ago, when we restarted our homeschool, we made a plan to get Kelly through college by 2014 followed by Christian in 2016. We did it two year early because Christian finished two years early than our plan. I only thought about it about once per year when I made the yearly plan for the next year’s homeschool and bought the books from Sonlight. The plan was completely forgotten while we did the work of homeschooling. Now that we are at the end, it has dawned on me that we have not given much thought to what comes next. Of course, I have my work, mortgage, and retirement to consider, but those are continuing things that require thought and readjustment on a regular basis when I change jobs, move, run into an unexpected expense, etc. We have goals in all that, but they are just going to be part of life until I die, so I planning for that kind of thing is just part of the landscape.
Now though, Lorena and I have to figure out what we want to do next. Does Lorena want to finish her degree or start a business or do both? Do we want to live in Portland or Phoenix or Prescott or stay where we are? There are competing interests in all this. The kids are both going off to graduate school on the west coast. We would like to be near them so we could see them on a very regular basis, but they are at the age to start making their own way without too much interference from us. Are we thinking of moving just so we can be by them? Maybe. But is that bad? Maybe, maybe not. I thought life was going to get less complicated at this point, but it looks like I am wrong.
Betty Blonde #115 – 12/24/2008 Click here or on the image to see full size strip.
Lorena and I are not sure where we will be or even what we will do over the next several years. We have invested a lot of effort into getting the kids through college that we did not have a lot of time to think about what we will do when they are gone. I understand they are never really gone, but one or both of them will be a long way away from us as they have been accepted to graduate schools that are over 1400 miles apart. So now Lorena and I have to figure out what to do.
The one thing we know is that we want to move back out West to be closer to the kids. I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to live just about anywhere in the continental U.S. So now we have to figure out where we want to live. My work is in Arizona most of the time so that is certainly an option. Kelly will be in Seattle, so that is also an option. Of course, we love Oregon and would love to be there, too. So, we are trying to figure out where to go and when to go there in the midst of all the run up to graduation. We are looking at houses now in Arizona and Oregon. I am sure the right path will become apparent to us if we are just patient.
Betty Blonde #87 – 11/14/2008 Click here or on the image to see full size strip.