Author: Tonya Minnick
Growing up in Nampa, Idaho near Boise (boy-see to the natives), and being a young single parent, I never got the opportunity to explore outside my boundaries. (Un)fortunately for me, the company I had been working at for the last couple years, decided to downsize starting with the newest employees in my department. No notice, just took my key card and booted me. Coworkers were nearly in tears as they lost two people that day and we were already working fifty hours a week. So, I saturated the market with my resume.
My interviews went great but Idaho isn’t known for fair wages. I continued to get interest at wages lower than what my unemployment checks were already supplying. Then the out of state calls started coming. North Dakota had a great offer, but I wasn’t interested in living there. Seattle would be a nice place to live but who can survive in Seattle on the, twenty dollars per hour, offer I received? This continued to discourage me. Then I got a call from Volt Workforce saying they had an opportunity in Beaverton. “Where is Beaverton?” I asked. “The home of Nike.” *silence* “Near Portland Oregon.” “Oh” I replied. “Sure, I’ll come out for an interview.” Two days later I was in my car headed to a town full of Beavers. Ten days after that, I was in that same little Saturn loaded to the brim with as much as I could pack into it. This included an air mattress, a relentlessly howling cat, and a little dog that insisted on riding atop the immense pile of precious necessities.
When I got here I had very little and was extremely nervous, as this was my first big adventure. Luckily the apartment I managed to get at the last minute, worked out wonderfully and was near work. Right away I noticed people were willing to help with my situation. I was given furniture, dishes, advice, etc. These items came from, co-workers, new friends, one old friend that happened to be in the area, and a plethora of strangers. In what seemed like a very short time and only about five hundred dollars later, I had my apartment in a livable condition. I even had a real bed. And I was starting to make more friends that I could explore Oregon with.
Since getting settled in, I have taken many a trip to the coast and watched the gray whales and was able to witness some pretty spectacular breaches. While I had seen the Oregon Coast before, I never had the time to just relax and take it all in. Nor had I ever seen a whale in its natural habitat. Now I can go every weekend if I feel the need, and spend hours just looking out into the vast horizon. I finally experienced one of the most exhilarating moments of my life when I saw the tails of two Orca swimming toward the deep from Cannon Beach. Did I mention that as a teen I had planned to attend OSU to become a marine biologist and study the Orca? Unfortunately, only the Jacque Cousteau’s of the world make a living sailing the seas and widening minds. But to see the multitudes of gray whales and then my Orca sighting, I was finally home.
While the sea side is my favorite Oregon location, I have found several other exciting places. The Tualatin Hills Nature Park is one of my favorite locations. It is chalk full of little critters and it’s a beautiful place to get your daily 10,000 steps in. Apparently, there are deer hiding in there too, but I have yet to find them. I personally have found, owls, bunnies, squirrels, toads, lizards, slugs, and a plethora of birds. It’s only one of many available trials in the area. Including the lovely Fanno Creek Trail. I have seen several great blue herons in the creek. Multnomah falls is also amazing. I have been up on the bridge but have not explored the higher trails. It’s a gorgeous natural waterfall with a manmade bridge to get us closer to nature. Oxbow park is also a wonderful place to visit. I love the river, as it reminds me of the parts of Idaho I tend to miss on occasion. The self-titled little town at the base of Mount Hood also reminds me of the little Idaho town, of Marsing. The orchards and vineyards here are breathtaking in the fall. The little lodge at the base of the mountain was quaint but the road to the peak was closed due to snow, when I went. I can’t wait for next summer to explore some more.
The food scene is also spectacular here. I have discovered several scrumptious locations for tasty goodies. I know Voodoo Donuts is a landmark but I’m in love with Beaverton Bakery. I also found Mizumi Buffet, some delectable Chinese style seafood in a nice sized buffet. Then all the noodle options to choose from at various places. I also love Mod Pizza, as they are like the super subway style pizza palace, with marion-blackberry lemonade that is amazing. Portland Saturday Market with all the lovely food cart options, food pods as far as the eye can see, in downtown Portland and strewn about all the outlaying cities. My favorite Mexican food is in Vancouver (I know, not in Oregon), Taqueria El Antojo. They have the best tortilla soup and Mexican juices ever! This is accounting for the fact that Nampa has a heavy Hispanic population. There are also plenty of health conscious, yet delicious marvels to be found. Sweet Tomatoes is a nice healthy buffet. Just don’t overload on salad and soup. I am still hunting for my favorite places. It could take me years to find the best of the best. I am however, up for the challenge.
I am sure there are a multitude of Oregonian things I haven’t tried. I know there are several things on my list to explore. I am always eager for suggestions. It would be awesome if some of you would leave some of your favorite places in the comments below. Hint, hint. Maybe you’ll feel the need to try a new place that I happened to find and mention here. I just want to say, I am so thankful to have found a company to work for, where my coworkers are also my friends. It was a leap of faith that brought me here and I am so glad I took that leap. I have found people I can count on if need be, in this new little family. This new adventure has definitely been a positive move. Of course, I miss aspects of Idaho, with friends and family at the top of the list. But, I feel like I belong here. I would like to thank each of you all for that.
Author: Tonya Minnick