Heyo!  I'm officially on the road for a spur-of-the-moment trip to interview for two jobs with Oregon State Parks!  Utah is an amazing state, but every once and while a job will pop open that seems too good to pass up.  So when two supervisory park ranger positions were posted -- one on the Pacific coast and the other near Crater Lake National Park -- I had to apply.  The timing is a little ridiculous because we're in the thick of wedding reception and honeymoon planning, but hey ... there's never a perfect time for anything, is there?  I figure if you wait for the "perfect" time to move, change jobs, get married, etc. you'll stay in the same place forever.  And even if I don't get the job, I get to go on a killer roadtrip, explore beautiful places, and see some family and friends.  Here we go!

the Pacific! 

the Pacific! 

Rogue River 

I've been to the Pacific Northwest several times before, and each time I'm totally overwhelmed by the contrast between Utah and Oregon.  Where to start?  Obviously, the environments couldn't be more different.  Southern Utah is a red-rock desert that only gets 5.5 inches of rain a year.  Oregon gets at least ten times that much rain, with gazillions of gigantic trees, ubiquitous moss, and roaring river gorges to prove it.  Utah has a labyrinth of canyons and crystal-clear night skies; Oregon has volcanic mountains and the ocean.  Utah has tiny hidden Anasazi granaries; Oregon has tidepools full of starfish.  Both places are amazing; both are polar opposites.

That being said, Utah doesn't even get close to Oregon's culture.  There's a lot of things I love about Utah, but the politics, food, beer, coffee, and music unfortunately don't make the list.  Oregon is busting at the seems with fresh, creative, local food.  The beer is amaaaaaaazing -- after 5 year of Utah's halfassed 3.2%, I heard angels sing from my first Laurelwood Free Range Red Organic Ale to my last Rogue Dead Guy Ale.  And honestly, sometimes in Utah I feel like the token non-LDS liberal hippie, while in Oregon I felt conspicuously unstylish without a fixie bike, jaunty scarf, and tattoo sleeves.  I'll always feel a little like an outsider in Utah; Oregon could feel like home.

Anyway, my trip started in Portland.  The SLC-PDX flight is ridiculously quick (1 hr 45 min) and totally painless.  I stayed a couple nights with my cousin Kate, her husband Jeff, and their new baby Ruby.  My aunt and uncle were also in town getting some quality time with their new grandbaby.  I haven't seen them in a long time, so it was fun to catch up and see their new place.  Ruby is 3 weeks old, teenytiny, and really stinkin' cute.

We all spent Sunday wandering around Portland.  It goes without saying that Portland is amazing -- everyone knows that by now, right?  It's dynamic yet laid back, and busting at the seams with Gore-Tex, gourmet Peruvian food carts, urban gardeners with living roofs, and hipster fixies.  Portland is the perfect size for a city.  With around 600,000 people, it's big enough to feel exciting and dynamic, but not so huge that it feels crazy.  I could always find parking, the drivers were unexpectedly polite, and people were really friendly.  We had some amazing food, watched a red-head bike festival (?), walked around beautiful city parks, and drank beer.  Perfect.