Back in the 1970s there was a movement to steer people away from Oregon. Californians were feeling crowded and people had discovered the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. To slow the influx of califonicators and in an attempt to keep the purity of Oregon, a great anti-marketing campaign began to tell people how it’s always rainy and ugly here. It worked – people, and business opportunities stayed away in droves.
Some of us liked that plan. We like our open spaces, and uncrowded parks. Others, particularly Business, did not appreciate it. Oregon saw some hard economic times in the late 1970s and 80s. My Dad experienced two business failures during the 70s. We lost everything in the process. There are still a lot of people who blame Oregon’s economic woes on Governor Tom McCall. And, a lot of people still consider Oregon the place that rains all the time.
“It doesn’t rain in Oregon,” my Dad always says. “It never rains. It just drizzles all the time.”
In fact, the Portland area gets less than 60 inches of precipitation per year, far less than other parts of the country. But it’s true, a lot of that precipitation comes in the form of drizzle. 100% humidity – not torrential downpours. But the myth persists – and most of us are fine with that. Smaller than Seattle, warmer than San Francisco, but mostly forgotten and ignored, we natives get to enjoy the scenery without the crowds.
That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been growth. Indeed, 30 years ago one could drive across town in less than a half hour. Now? It will take you 45 minutes plus – depending upon the time of day. Rush hour was once confined to 4:30 to 5:30 in the afternoon, now it stretches from 3:00pm to 6:00 o’clock. And yes, Oregon is dreary and grey for about half the year – but when the sun does come out – it is stunning.
Often, our mid-February false spring will find Portlanders unhinged. Convertibles, motorcycles, and even boats on the river. The local trauma centers and EMS agencies see an uptick when the we break free seeking to cure our cabin fever.
This video, just released, brings all kinds of warm to my soul. Nostalgia, beauty, and culture – all wrapped up in about three and a half minutes.
But that’s OK. The rest of you can keep staying away in droves. Those of us who have been here for the past four generations know that our weather helps keep the riff-raff away.