The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is not all lush green and rainforest like.
Oregon is a huge part of the PNW, and it is a pretty diverse state. The PNW is considered Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Some people may include the southeastern part of Alaska and Montana in the PNW as well, but usually it is just the three. It is definitely the most diverse place I have ever lived (land wise)! Growing up on the East Coast, I saw Washington and Oregon as such rainy places. I thought they were two of the wettest states in the country. Well, I was wrong!
After living in Oregon for a year and a half, I have learned quite a bit. It is sad to say, but I have traveled more of Oregon than I ever did of Pennsylvania, my home state! Let me tell you, the whole state is actually not a rainy place all the time. It also is a much larger state than you would imagine once you start to venture around.
10 Truths about Oregon that you may have not known!
It is not the rainiest state! Or even close.
So Oregon isn’t even in the top ten for rainiest states in the US! The eastern half of the state accumulates barely any rainfall throughout the year. Some areas on the west side of the state are very rainy and a few towns do rank on the top ten rainiest places in the 48 states. Hawaii and Alaska precipitation still easily double the yearly averages in those towns.
Wisconsin isn’t the only state with good cheese! Along the coast we have three main cheese factories. Take a trip down the 101 and you can hit them all. Tillamook Cheese Factory is by far the most popular and largest factory in the state. Guests can watch the cheese making process for blocks of cheese and cheese curds. The best part is the tasting line – can’t miss out on the free cheese! I have to say, Tillamook ice cream is among my favorites as well. Blue Heron is just down the road from the Tillamook Cheese Factory. If you want to venture in for some French cheeses and fine wine, this is the place for you. Last on my list is Face Rock Creamery which is located in Bandon, south of Coos Bay. Taste some more free cheeses and those squeaky cheese curds too, if you’re into that. J Leaving these places with no cheese is a sin.
We can’t pump our own gas
Yes, like New Jersey, Oregon is the only other state that made it illegal to pump your own gas. Growing up next to NJ I always thought that was so weird. In the summer I loved pumping my own gas because I could enjoy the warm weather, but in the winter I hated having to get out in below freezing and windy weather. Now, I am so used to the Oregon ways that I almost forget what I am doing when I have to actually do it myself! Alright maybe I don’t forget, but I definitely miss the luxury of someone else filling my tank and washing the windshield for me.
Lewis and Clark expedition
The first journey to the west coast, documented by Lewis and Clark, ended in Fort Clatsop. This is near present day Astoria. If you don’t know anything about this expedition from back in the day then pop up that google tab right now, it’s some great history!
Astoria is the oldest town west of the Rockies
I am living in the oldest town west of the Rockies – pretty sweet huh? There are some historic houses still standing. For a few dollars you can wander the rooms of the Flavel House Museum, which is worth a peek if you are in town. The Columbia River gives Astoria its amazing view with Washington just on the other side of the water. It is one of my favorite places on the west coast!
Over a quarter of the state is a high desert
The southeastern (to central) portion of the state is known as Oregon’s high deserts. Well before I moved here I had never heard of it. It is a high elevation area averaging about 4,000 ft and very dry in relation to western Oregon. Most of the areas on an average get less than 15 inches of annual precipitation, while parts of the coast can get more than 100 inches. You could drive 2 hours and be in a completely different atmosphere. Pretty cool! For more info on the high desert here’s a helpful link
Oregonians don’t use umbrellas
Here in Oregon an umbrella is a sign of a tourist, outsider, or maybe a hipster in Portland…but mostly tourists. True Oregonians know how to keep their rain jacket nearby depending on the location and season.
The deepest lake in the United States
Would you believe that not only is Crater Lake the deepest in the U.S. but it was formed by a volcano, Mt. Mazama, which collapsed? The crater was formed and the lake filled up from the runoff of the snow melt. The clarity is unbelievable! June-Aug is the time to go see this Oregon wonder, but be prepared for an abundance of people all trying to do the same.
Bill Bowerman brought life to the Nike brand here and the headquarters are still located in the Portland area today! Track town USA (Eugene, OR) is a highlight for many track and field athletes. This is where the magic came to life for one of the world’s most well known and loved brands for not only sneakers but sports apparel too.
Has more ghost towns than any other state