As the Eye Wanders

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I got to see and use the new, improved, expanded Redmond Airport terminal for the first time last week, and it’s a gem.

One bitch, though: If the powers that be could find tens of millions of dollars to expand the terminal, why couldn’t they find a few thousand to put number and letter signs – G6, A5, etc. – on the light poles in the long-term parking lot to help people locate their cars when they return from their trips?

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Flipping through the Horizon in-flight magazine, I came across a full-page ad for Wenatchee, WA, bragging – in type half an inch high – about its “300 days of sunshine a year.” Is there ANY town in the American West that doesn’t make that claim?

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Well, yes – Astoria.

Bend has fallen on hard times since the real estate bubble popped and things don’t seem to be getting any better: Friday’s Bulletin reported that notices of default – the first stage in the foreclosure process – hit a record in the fourth quarter of 2009.

But you don’t see evidence here of the kind of chronic, grinding poverty that’s everywhere in Astoria and the surrounding area. Nearly 16% of the population is below the poverty line (compared to 10.5% in Bend) and it looks like the town hasn’t had any real economy since the salmon canneries went away. It’s trying hard to be a tourist attraction but there’s precious little there to attract tourists, unless they enjoy 70 inches of rain a year.

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Returning home, I realized that Bend is still a small town when I saw the local daily newspaper had devoted the bulk of its front page for two days in a row to a story about a cat stuck in a tree.


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