It became America’s 33rd state on Valentine’s Day, 1859. It’s the home of America’s deepest lake and the ninth deepest on Earth – an incredible 650 yards deep. One of only two states in America where you are not allowed to fill up your own vehicle with fuel; you must let an attendant do it instead. The city of Eugene became the first place in America to have one-way streets. In 2014, it became only the second state to have legalised gay marriage, physician assisted suicide and recreational marijuana. And it is the only state that has an official state nut, the hazelnut, although some argue it should be the guy who thought a state nut was a good idea. Today, we’re in the hilariously named Beaver State, Oregon.
Oregon is a state in northwest United States, bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Washington, California, Idaho and Nevada. It is the ninth largest state with an area of just over 98,000 square miles, with the 27th largest population of any state, nearly four million people. Nobody knows for sure where the state name came from, although Oregonians are very tetchy about how you pronounce it. The state flag is the only flag in America with a different design on each side. In fact, the only other official flag in the world with this arrangement is the flag of Paraguay. In 2001, the Oregon flag was voted the 11th worst flag in America and Canada. The state motto is in Latin, ‘Alis volat propriis’, intending to mean ‘She flies with her own wings’. But this translation is actually incorrect. It actually reads, ‘It flies with its own wings’. Plus, that’s a given, right? If ‘it’ flew with anyone else’s wings, ‘it’ would be a thief. By stating ‘it’ flies with ‘it’s’ own wings, it actually starts to make me wonder why they would state something so obvious, unless they’re trying to hide something. They should change it. What about, ‘We’re Very Proud of Our Beavers’? Just a thought…
It’s a state defined by agriculture, forests, tourism, rocky coasts, mountains, vast canyons, technology and even a touch of desert. Beer, wine and liquor are proudly drunk and are hugely popular. Oregonians show a cultural streak through a love of art and music. They are a friendly and jolly sort of folk. They are also an incredibly ecologically minded people and are very proud of the state’s outstanding natural beauty. And it’s easy to see why.
There are wonders to see such as the adorably tiny Heceta Head Lighthouse. You have the verdant beauty of Salt Creek Falls, a small open cove surrounded by tall lush trees and steep brilliant green grass and moss covered rocks, with the elegant cascade of the mighty falls off to one side, the end of a semi-circle of thick grey rock protruding stubbornly from the sea of green. There’s Crater Lake. The famous deep lake I mentioned earlier, a perfect circle entirely self-contained like a rich blue eye in the surrounding landscape, inside, two close islands like the pupil of the eye. Totally wizard. And then there’s Hells Canyon. A colossal rugged fortress of durous mountains jutting harshly from the landscape, perforated with the gentility of the lush blue waters of Snake River. A wonderfully graceful canvas.
I think the best sight of the state is the Painted Hills. They are a gorgeous rock formation famed for the naturally occurring colourful layers streaked along its face. This Elysian wonder is majestic with an otherworldly aura. It is a harum-scarum gallimaufry of colourful splendour and grace. It’s unreal. A versicolour sanguine suavité, beyond imagination. A truly breathtaking corner of the Earth.
Oregon. The state of outstanding natural beauty, culture and beaver.
Images: 1) The flag of Oregon (credit: wikimedia.org), 2) Painted Hills (credit: kevinandamanda.com), 3) Hells Canyon (credit: wikimedia.org)
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