SoCal transplant is ready for fun

"Welcome To Oregon," said the sign as my truck lumbered up the Siskiyou Pass.

I was dragging the accumulated junk from 27 years of living in SoCal. The little U-Haul trailer I was pulling clunked and bounced with each curve in the climb. All I could think about for the last 700 miles was how I was going to adapt to a new life in Southern Oregon.

A New Yorker by birth, and a city rat at that, I had lived all over the U.S. and overseas. I had learned to adapt, but not without some confusion, and not a little bit of anxiety. The military made it easier, they just ground you down until you had other things to complain about. After two or three years, we were packed off to a new location with new problems and challenges.

The long downhill glide from the pass revealed the sun sparkling on Emigrant Lake. The air was cool and clean, and the temperature was mercifully cool. This was a refreshing change from the 105-degree San Diego heat.

The first thing I noticed was that Oregon drivers observe speed limits. This is an interesting phenomenon. The average speed for the morning commute on I-15 in San Diego is 85. Going slower in the left lane usually results in multi-ethnic insults given by hand. Someone should write a book someday about all the different insulting hand gestures drivers use. It might become a bestseller. In SOCAL, there is also the high-speed pass and cutoff, usually accomplished by luxury car owners flaunting their vehicle performance, or 20-something women driving VW Jettas who are late for work.

Our new home in a small development in Jacksonville is both comfortable and accessible. We can actually walk to shops. This is unheard of down south. Without a vehicle, one is helpless in California. I have seen people drive two blocks rather than walk.

Our little community has another nice feature: People actually greet you as they walk by, stopping to chat about how we were getting on with our move. The ultimate lifestyle philosophy in California is “Splendid Isolation.” Gotta get that big house on the hill in the gated community. Gotta have that view. Gotta owe my soul to the bank for the rest of my life. Oh, well. We are here now.

Some things do need to be looked at here. One cannot miss the sad state of personal grooming in Oregon. While a two-day stubble is considered suitable elsewhere, here many men look like posters for Taliban recruitment. Some women do too. I would expect that a person could make a good living opening a barber shop, once the current grooming fad wears out.

As a committed San Diego State fan, I find the large green “O” on every vehicle somewhat unsettling, especially on large, lifted pickup trucks with huge tires. The driver usually wears a short-sleeve shirt, with a “God Bless America” tattoo printed on the left arm (and “America” is spelled with two Rs). What a country!

We are here now. Here we will stay to help raise my new grandson. I can’t wait to catch my first steelhead. I want to climb Mount McLoughlin. I want to watch my son launch his hang glider off Woodrat Mountain and glide to Ashland. We are gonna have a good time.

— Jerry Pendzick lives in Jacksonville.

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