old house near the harris bridgeMy soul is filled up with green. We have been traveling through long narrow valleys filled with luscious spring greens, reminiscent of the hills of the Carolinas where my family heritage resides.  Never lived there, but I remember feeling at home and completely familiar when we drove through the little town of Cherokee in North Carolina, among the hardwoods and rhododendrons.  These hidden Oregon valleys are much like that.  I can imagine how wonderful it felt to the pioneers crossing the Oregon Trail when they at last reach the verdant, green paradise called Oregon. Familiar, welcoming and nurturing after all those miles crossing prairies and deserts, day after day of brown and tan and gray.

The MoHlo crossing the Earnest BridgeOregon is many things, but right now, west of the Cascades, it is green, thick, lush, vibrant, neon, chartreuse, every possible shade of green you could imagine and more. The green somehow fills me up, makes my insides vibrate and tingle, makes something inside me expand. Mo and I have spent the last few days wandering slowly through a part of Oregon that we usually pass by at 65 miles per hour on the interstate.

Irish Bend Bridge on the campus at Oregon State UniversityThe Willamette Valley is large, and extends from Eugene to Portland, bisected very nearly through the middle by Interstate 5.  I can’t count the times I have driven this road, usually to get from one end of Oregon to the other, as quickly as possible.

the size of these beams is impressive Deadwood Bridge I was often heading south from Northern Idaho, where I lived for more than 30 years, traveling for the holidays to the youngest daughter in Medford, then later in Corvallis.  Then later again traveling north when that same daughter lived in Albany and I was in Klamath Falls, and north again to spend time with the oldest daughter settled in Portland.  Always moving as quickly as possible, noticing the green and the blue skies in the spring and the brown and smoky skies of fall, but never really seeing it.  Not like I have seen it this week.

Searching for covered bridges is more about the back road journeys than it is about the bridges, although after seeing so many, I find myself feeling great affection for them.  At first we thought they all looked pretty much the same, but in actuality there are subtle nuances and each bridge has it’s own personality, its own character. Some are tucked away in little unknown canyons crossing small streams, others on big rivers like the Suislaw in a valley we never knew about before this trip.

There will be more to write about the journey, the places we found, the roads we traveled, the individual bridges, but that will come later, this is just as Erin says, “a teaser”.  At the moment, I am still just soaking up the green.  Enjoying the rain and the brilliant sunshine between the rains, the wild clouds moving across the skies, and green, always green, everywhere green.