Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Sucky "Colors" of Fall

Top: Sucky Bend "Fall Color"
Bottom: Real Fall Color

The first autumn that Mrs. Blackdog and I spent in Bend, everybody we knew kept giving us glowing descriptions of the glorious "fall color" in Oregon.

"You really gotta drive over the Santiam Pass and see the fall color," they'd advise us. "It's spectacular."

Both Mrs. Blackdog and I had grown up on the East Coast and had loved the truly spectacular displays of color that the trees put on every autumn in New England, upstate New York, and even the less urban parts of New Jersey. (See photo above.)

We had missed seeing the fall color during our years in California. In California, "fall color" refers to the dry brown hills turning green after the first rains arrive. So we were quite excited about driving over the Santiam Pass through the mountains and feasting our eyes on vast expanses of forest gorgeously painted in brilliant reds and golds.

What a letdown THAT turned out to be.

There was, I have to admit, a certain amount of "fall color." There was the occasional maple or aspen or grape ivy bush tinted with red or gold. Or sometimes with one or two leaves tinted with red or gold. (See photo at top.)

But Oregon's forests are predominantly made up of pine and fir and spruce, so their predominant color in the fall (and every other season) is green. There just aren't enough deciduous trees to create a real fall color show.

We should have figured this out before we went on the drive, but we were taken in by the enthusiasm of Oregonians. (It would not be the last time this would happen.)

It was a pleasant enough trip; the weather was sunny and warm, and we stopped for lunch at the historic and quaint Log Cabin Inn in McKenzie Bridge. (It has since burned down.)

But as a fall color experience ... well, it pretty much totally sucked.

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