Saturday, July 08, 2006

The vastness of the West

Looking out the window in my in-laws' computer room/office, there's a nice view of downtown Bend, Ore. Where this same topography back home, I'm fairly certain I could see at least two other distinct communities and one political border.

You'll recall an evening at the races a few nights ago. The races were held in Prineville; a 40-minute drive from Bend but, by all accounts, one of Bend's neighboring cities. Drives to other neighboring towns are 23 minutes (a simple city-to-city search on Mapquest from Bend to Redmond) and 29 minutes (ditto for Sisters).

My commute, door to door in normal traffic, takes no more than 25 minutes and goes through three different jurisdictions.

Even growing up, a 20-minute drive in nearly any direction from Lehighton, Pa., would take one through at least two other towns. (The one exception would be west along PA-443, where farmland dominates until one reaches Tamaqua.)

That seems to be prevalent throughout the west. Starting on the Southern California coast, one can drive an hour to the east and still be within the City of Los Angeles. It's a three-hour drive from Portland to Seattle, though Portland nuzzles the Washington border and Seattle is nowhere near the northernmost point in the state. (It's another three hours from Portland to Bend.)

A three-hour drive north from D.C. would put you near Philadelphia. But you'd have passed through three states (possibly four, if you start in Virginia). A three-hour drive straight south on I-95 should get you into North Carolina - and that seems like a damn long way away.

But that's life in West. It puts a hurting on my border geekiness, but given the dramatic views and wonderful scenery, I could deal with it.

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