28 April 2006

Along the Crooked River

Prineville, Oregon
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
Although spring was officially ushered in over a month ago, the weather hasn’t wholeheartedly corresponded with the season until this past week. With spring just beginning to bud, the landscape of central Oregon is not yet parched, cracked, and baked to a crisp. Descending from the plateau into the Crooked River Valley made me reminiscent of other high desert locales I’ve called home: southeastern New Mexico, Salt Lake City, and the valley south of El Paso, Texas. The desert grows on you after a while.

This was only my second visit to Prineville, which is home to the Les Schwab Tires empire. For now, it still retains its small-town feel where its appeal continues to draw native sons and daughters home to raise their own families within its intimate atmosphere. There’s no doubt that the natural landscape has much to offer: nearby lakes and reservoirs for water activities, Smith Rock State Park for the rock climber (or observer) in all of us, and the Three Sisters Wilderness area and Mt. Bachelor for all those snow sports.

On the horizon, however, a contrast is surfacing. The marketing of an outdoor lifestyle with all the amenities in nearby Bend, Oregon, and subsequent growth in both the job and housing markets has produced all the makings for a population boom that is already in the works. The overflow from neighboring Deschutes County is cropping up in Prineville, and will more than double the population when the planned developments are completed over the next decade.

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