This bulldozer has a story to tell, but I don’t know it. It’s only about ten miles from where I was born, and I could ask my friends in Douglas County for the full story, but we could invent one here. It may go more or less the same as the dozens of abandoned homes we passed today, on day one of Cycle Oregon, which is when 2000 people, many of them OR urbanites, descend on a part of rural Oregon to take a weeklong bike tour, learn about the area, and contribute via commerce and grants. It’s intentionally urban meets rural, in a state where the two cultures don’t overlap a lot beyond the fact that they’re both in OR. (Here’s the ride I did, btw.)
Southwestern Oregon is a lot like this bulldozer: it remembers the post-WWII boom, when logging and mining and agriculture were noble if not always prosperous ways to make a living. That boom ended in the early 1980s, more or less, and there is still money to be made, but not as much and not for as many. On the ride we saw, yes, this bulldozer and dozens of homes, but also little structures that once sheltered kids waiting for school buses, or little restaurants that once fed families splurging on an evening out, or all sorts of reminders that things were once better.
Not all is in decay! It’s just different, and yesterday is plainly in view when you ride your bike on the backroads…plenty of time for me to meditate on my rural upbringing and urban existence. I wonder what the others alongside me are thinking about as they experience SW Oregon? If time and cellular, I’ll check in later during the ride.