I have safely arrived in Oregon, the state whose motto is Alis volat propriis, which means “She flies with her own wings, but only only after she has compiled a report regarding the environmental and economic impact of her flight, and only while using wings deemed safe by the state regulatory process.”

Yup, I’m in Hood River and I’m losing my mind it’s so freakin’ awesome to be back here. However, those of you aching for a long and thoughtful post where I reflect and wax poetic about the place that Oregon holds in my heart, well, ya’ll are going to be disappointed. I have a tall gin and tonic that says this post will be long, yes, longer than hell, but it will never be able to fight its way out of the baser levels of the human psyche.

As it were, this gin and tonic is starting to freak me out… an ice cube exploded and blew its bits all over my desk, nearly shattering the glass and tearing off my face in the process. For my own personal safety and out of respect for those who would care deeply if something awful were to befall me, it behooves that I finish this drink as quickly as possible.

And then get started on a Deschutes Inversion I.P.A.

Less than a week ago I finally dropped anchor here in Hood River after three solid days of driving across the country. I took the freeway this time, the same freeway I drove six times this past summer, in contrast to my previous Oregon/Minnesota excursions where I took the long and meandering route along Highway 12. Nevertheless I got to see a lot of awesome things, like the world’s largest androgynous holstein cow (New Salem Sue has horns and an udder), a 100-foot Virgin Mary towering over Butte, Montana, and most but not all of North Dakota.

I really enjoy living in this small town again. I love being able to walk downtown, hang out while eating a burrito, and talk to old friends as they wander by on the sidewalk. I love that Anna who runs Thai Winds still remembers my name, and even remembers my stint in Bend from all those years back. I love how my social calendar fills up not through articles in the Weekend section of the newspaper, but simply by chewing the fat with people in town.

I mean, the small town thing is rather panoptic at times… as my friend put it, you can fart in a store downtown, walk twenty blocks to Safeway, and someone in there will already be giggling at you. It wouldn’t be a good fit for the overly self-conscious, nor for those who are prone to rampant bridge-burning. But then, I’ve never really been any good at either, so thus far things are fine.

Also, I’m uber-stoked to say that my abode is fine, dandy and awesome. I was really nervous about what my place would be like, and it turns out that all the worrying was for naught. The bats (there aren’t nearly as many of them as I expected) are very well-behaved, and I’m quickly training them to be my bloodthirsty army of the night. My living space is so massive that I don’t know what to do with all the space (besides permanently installing a band, a rave and a halfpipe) and the view is absolutely killer. My windows (and deck, I have a freakin’ deck!) look out over the Columbia Gorge and the White Salmon River, and I can see Mount Adams from my dining table.

I’ve been unpacking stuff and stocking the kitchen and building wares from IKEA ever since I got here, and while I still have a long ways to go the abode is starting to pull itself together. I had a drift of crumpled newspaper in the living room that was four feet tall, and I’m still hauling piles of cardboard out to the recycle bin. I spent $50 on spices at the grocery store today, and now my kitchen is finally to the point where I can cook and prepare food.

I just realized tonight, however, that I don’t have any knives. For dinner I had to slice my french bread with a butter knife. I sliced the lime for my gin and tonic with my Leatherman. Another miserable trip to Wally-World may be in order, one with the sole intent of stocking the fuck up on cutlery. Hopefully I won’t have to put any of them to use while I’m still in the store, but my mental faculties have a sorry history of being able to deal effectually with the Hood River Wally-World.

But that’s a rant that might have to wait until martini night.