Friday, March 5, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Getting out of town

On a clear day coming over the Interstate Bridge I see them, Mount Hood to my right and St. Helens in front of me, like twin rush-hour mirages glowing in the reflected morning sun.

I know they exist, of course. But I’m embarrassed to say, nearly one year after moving to the Pacific Northwest, I haven’t been anywhere near them.

Being naturally inclined towards cities, also having dropped out of the Boy Scouts at age 8 after refusing to call milk, “moo-juice,” I’m not what you would call the “outdoorsy” type. In fact, I’m pretty certain that spending more than one night in a tent without running water or electricity might be the first sign of a particular kind of dementia.

But after eight months of commuting on I-5 through the mother-of-all bottlenecks – hello, Delta Park! – I wouldn’t pass up a little peace-and-quiet in the wilderness.
And I’m pretty sure that Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt feels the same way, taking the time out of Thursday’s State of the City speech to say, “This place we call home is just two hours from mountains for skiing and hiking; beaches of the Pacific Ocean for picnics and kite flying; desert lands and pristine rivers for fishing and camping.”
So while trapped in my car, I daydream of traversing a jagged peak, gulping down the thin mountain air and communing with wild animals I’m hoping are no bigger than a suburban backyard squirrel.

And I’m going to do it someday, I think to myself.

O.K, before you become the first person in history to call for a taxpayer-funded helicopter rescue as a preemptive measure, I fully realize that I may not be cut-out for backwoods adventures.

And yet I yearn, as all Vancouver commuters may, to keep on driving past our places of business, to the end of a grassy hillside of our own imagination – momentarily forgetting how bad the traffic is likely to be on the way back.