Opinion

Torrens Talk: Broadening horizons through travel

For various and sundry reasons, we spent some time in Lake Havasu, Arizona for part of our vacation recently. We left there before the “heat wave” hit but that was truly only a matter of degree. When the local weather person describes a cooling trend as reaching only 103 degrees F, it is more than warm, it is hot!

Still, it was an interesting part of our country. That is one thing that always amazes me about the United States: the true diversity of the land in which we live. It is one reason we drive to places like Lake Havasu – to take in the physical wonders of our nation.

During this trip, we went from a green, temperate climate to a barren, rocky landscape and a great deal of heat. Along the way, we drove through high desert country to desert, watching trees and shrubbery being replaced by cactus and sagebrush.

We took the back roads, opting to travel along the Columbia River on the Washington side before crossing over at Hood River and heading south to Bend, Oregon where we spent the night. In that one day, we went from sea level to several thousand feet higher in altitude. We left the green river basin and climbed into the high desert, surrounded by pines and lava.

It had been a number of years since we had been in Bend and much has changed. There is now a bypass, like at Sequim, so one can avoid the commercial strip if one chooses. This move has certainly not hurt Bend as it has seen a revitalization of its downtown core. It is a pleasure to walk the area and there are many fine brew pubs to check out and places to dine. We made sure to stop by our favorite bakery and pick up some fresh bread for our sandwiches later in the day.

From Bend we drove to Reno, going through what Oregon calls its outback. By this point, the trees were becoming scarce and occasionally shrubs could be seen. It was a hint of things to come when we got to Nevada.

We crossed briefly through California where we discovered that cherries are considered citrus. We had the choice of either having them confiscated or eating them right there and returning the pits. We took a break and gave California our pits.

At this point, we were in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. While we wound through the mountains, the lack of vegetation continued. We stopped in Reno where we visited with friends and spent the night. Despite the heat of the day, because of the altitude, it cooled off nicely at night. It made a pleasant change to the hot temperatures.

The drive between Reno and Las Vegas was a reinforcement to us that we lived in the right place for us with lots of water and greenery. The scenery rarely changed. When bodies of water did appear, it was clear that they had once been much larger as evidenced by the high water marks still present. The various colorations also indicated water inundated with mineral content. It was not surprising to drive through various communities offering hot springs.

The big difference going into Arizona was more the color of the rocks than anything else. What had been shades of gray and yellow became mainly red. The land continued to have a dearth of vegetation and the rock formations looked to be a geologist’s dream. The heat became oppressive as we got closer to sea level and there was no respite at night like in Reno.

Despite being in an environment which does not really suit me, just seeing what was there was important. I marvel at how we human beings are able to adapt to such diverse climates and thrive. I know I would never pick such an area to live but how else would I really know that unless I had experienced it?

Travel does broaden one’s horizons. And, in this case, I’m glad mine are back at my window looking at the Hood Canal, soaking up the green and the water.

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