The thought of returning to the Northwest and specifically, the Columbia Gorge is bittersweet. I've spent the better part of ten years there, tolerating the wind, staying afloat during the soggy winters, and reveling in the abundance of summer. I've gone to extremes there--countless pursuits, broken dreams, chasing hope, all the while, comforted by some of the best friends I've ever known. There are associations, good and bad, as with anywhere, making me both fear and eagerly anticipate going back.
But, I always do. Even after sunny Mexico, tropical Venezuela, the desert Southwest, somehow, my compass always navigates me back to the banks of wide Columbia, to the shade of the pear trees, and into the homes of beloved friends. When I've sworn I wouldn't, couldn't, shouldn't, there I was. Back in the Gorge.
What does this say about me? About the place? The gravitational pull is clearly impossible to resist, and for all of my misgivings, this place has some sort of hold on me. Could it be the singletrack, so sweet and easily accessible? Is it the locality--close to Portland, in the mountains, rivers, lakes abound? How about the agricultural bounty--all manner of fruit and veggies, and truth be told, the BEST chips and salsa in the world? What about the breweries and wineries, and all of the amazing restaurants? If I were a wind-junkie, I'd say it is the world-class kiteboarding and windsurfing.
At the end of the day, it always boils down to just making sense. It makes sense to go back there, to the mossy creeks, to the snowy volcanoes, and the firs. I can't say it's a perfect place, but it's pretty close (believe me, I've looked!)--at least for part of the year. I'm more than excited to hit the farm stands, go wine tasting, boating on the Columbia, have backyard happy hours and of course, shred all my home trails.
Look out, Gorge! Here we come.