Our Northwest

Oregon displays its Cascade Curtain

Wednesday, March 9, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

The Oregonian ran a fun feature Tuesday titled “21 ways you can tell you're from Oregon.” Observations included:
     You hike in the rain.
     Your winter coat needs a hood (no umbrellas around here).
     You don’t go to the beach to swim (too inhospitable).
     You have no need for air conditioning.
     Readers were invited to chime in, and one added to the list: “22. You forget there is an Eastern Oregon, where most of 1-21 do not apply.”
     Ah, yes, a reference to the so-called “Cascade Curtain,” a parochial, provincial mindset where the densely populated western half of the state ignores the geographically larger but less-crowded eastern half.
     This mirrors what I’ve witnessed in Washington all my life. East of the Cascades, where livelihoods, lifestyles, and politics often differ from the “wet side,” residents resent the clout carried by their densely-packed western counterparts.
     They resent their tax dollars funneled away to pay for Puget Sound bridges and HOV lanes. They bemoan liberal governors who don’t look out for eastside interests. They dislike upscale snowmobilers who cross the passes to ride snowy eastside hills while mocking rural residents as hicks.
     At least, that’s what I hear when I’m at our cabin east of the mountains. Some Kittitas County residents derisively label people like me “coasties,” “206ers,” or “KCBers” (King County bastards).
     So what would this "21 ways" list look like if it reflected just the eastern half of Oregon (or Washington, for that matter)? Perhaps, "You can pronounce 'Chiloquin' and 'Rajneeshpuram,'" or "You don't visit John Day Fossil Beds expecting to find dinosaur bones?"
     Share your own list!

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