Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bye bye Eugene, hello Central Oregon

Hey, it was tough for me to leave Eugene. It has been my hometown for more years than any other place I've lived. There are great memories, both pleasant and bitter, from my time there. I was a college student there, living a student's life. I was a journalist for 16 years at the Register-Guard, and I worked my butt off to give readers a well-edited, timely edition when they picked up their newspapers in the morning. The digital push was just beginning, so my experience with that was zero.

There were things that softened the blow. I made the drive up the McKenzie River, which is one of the gorgeous trips in America. I went over the pass by Hoodoo and dropped down into Sisters, which is a lovely Western-themed town. Well, it's lovely when the tourists aren't clogging the streets, which was the case as I passed through. I then showed up in Bend, which was my family's hometown from 1981-85. It was a jewel back then, and it has grown and become even more alluring. The Welcome to Bend sign says there are nearly 81,000 residents, and I believe that figure is a tad low.

Bend is a city now. Driving downtown means navigating through slow-moving traffic. I mean lots of stop-and-go traffic. That beautiful little drive by Drake Park moves at a pace a snail could beat. Oh, did I tell you about the roundabouts? Bend has adopted those European traffic devices with a vengeance. Every major street I've driven on features a few of those.

The literary side of my trip gets a couple of nice bumps today and tomorrow. I drive to Prineville today for a 2 p.m. reading and Q-and-A session at The Hub, a nice little bookstore and cafe. I have cousins in the area, and they have been "working the field" and inviting friends and others to my session. Tomorrow (Sunday) I have a 2 p.m. reading at Dudley's Bookshop and Cafe, which is in downtown Bend. I look forward to the ambience at both places. The Hub is a quiet little store, and they have an outdoor area for speakers. I chose that, and I hope that provides shade and comfy places to sit. Dudley's in Bend has an upstairs room with a big couch and lots of chairs someone can sink into. Now that's my type of literary environment.

I am having a blast. More later.

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