Oh, yeah, this’ll be just oodles of fun…

A recent report about storm watching as a major new tourist attraction along the rugged Oregon coast has me just a tad bit concerned.

According to Associated Press, adventurous travelers are eagerly packing up their brie and beach towels and heading for the jagged edge of Oregon – our great soggy neighbor to the north – to observe the beauty and grandeur of incoming weather systems.

“Local chambers of commerce routinely mention the coast’s spectacular winter storms in brochures and on Internet sites,” Associated Press reported. “Hotels offer winter storm-watching packages titled ‘Romance of the Storm’ and ‘Stormy Weather Getaway.’ ”

Uh-huh.

I wish I could get all excited about this new, natural attraction, but I’m afraid it’s just another Oregon plot to get rid of all the pesky Californians who have been littering up their once-pristine state since the late ’60s.

The “Don’t Californicate Us” bumper stickers may have disappeared from Oregon autos – and foreheads – but plenty of wily, easily irritated Oregonians remain and they’re probably no more enamored of latte-guzzling tourists from the south than they were a few years ago.

And now they’re greeting us with big grins and maps to places like the Devil’s Punchbowl.

Like I said before: Uh-huh…

If you’ve never witnessed a storm along the Oregon coast, I should caution you that the experience is nothing like a rainy day at Disney’s California Adventure.

These are real storms with wind and rain and flash floods and rapid, unexpected landscape changes along with the occasional whale blown inland as far as Medford. We’re talking scuba gear to pick up the mail and frolicsome seals barking in the corner drug store.

(Hey, it could happen…)

Believe me, it’s no coincidence that people in Bandon, Ore., favor amphibious cars over SUVs.

If you’ve ever visited the tiny community of Minidoka, Idaho, you know what I’m talking about. You see, Minidoka used to be perched on the Oregon coast until one cold, blustery November where there was this big ol’ storm…

That was years and years ago, but folks in Minidoka still have a kind of dazed look and talk a lot about the cranberry harvest for no apparent reason.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Oregon. I’ve attended Shakespeare festivals in Ashland, have not one but two Pendleton shirts hanging in my closet and religiously stockpile a half-ton of Harry and David preserves every Christmas. I’ve fished along Jump Off Joe Creek and even played croquet at Chucko the Birthday Clown’s ranch outside Jacksonville. Portland’s a summer festival and a winter carnival all rolled into one and Crater Lake’s fun for everyone – even Californians with loud shirts and louder cell phones.

But if you’re driving through Oregon and the locals cheerfully suggest that you head out for the coast to watch the storms come in, you might want to think twice – at least until they open some active volcanoes for Californians to explore…

Originally published January 27, 2002

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