"If you folks look out of the right side of the plane [my side], you will see us flying over Yellowstone Lake. On the left side will be Jackson Hole."
With this, I shake my lethargic head out of my book and turn towards the window. My breath was taken away, for there was this absolutely immense space. It was beautiful, it was overwhelming, it was so... open. Below me unrolled this huge lake, surrounded by the deep green woods of Yellowstone (I kept squinting to try to find some great elk down there), and then, in the distance, even more mountains. It was crazy. The book was lost to me from then on, and I spent the next 40 minutes just watching the vista underneath me. I took great pleasure in imagining myself as a prairie woman crossing these insane tracts of land, without having the faintest notion how much further, unfathomably further, it would still be before I reached the other side of this country. Aviation me had the advantage of knowing it would be a great many months still for Prairie me. It just really put into
Anyhow, As I'm watching these mountains give way to deserts (yes, most of Eastern Oregon is desert), and then back to mountains, I see these 3 mountains loom up out of the distance. It was Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens (which by the way looks a bit sad and deflated). Seriously, even though these 3 were in a completely different state, they DWARFED the ranges we were flying over.
Oh, dwarfed them all except for one. As I was pondering the enormity of these peaks, I look to the left side of the plane and watch as our wing tip practically scrapes the side of this other mountain. One that is right next to the plane. Literally. This is Oregon's famous Mt. Hood. And in case some of you are thinking I exaggerate slightly, let me give you some facts:
Mt. Rainier (the tallest mtn. in Washington) is 14, 411 feet high
Mt. Adams (2nd tallest) is 12, 271.
Mt. Hood (Oregon's tallest) is 11, 245 feet.
oh, & the average altitude for a commercial flight? 15,000 feet. Yeah, a mere 3, 755 away from Hood's roof.
It was pretty crazy... and awe inspiring. I think it was this immensity that got me more excited about living here than anything else. I kept expecting the people around me to speak in these soft, foreign dialects, so strange was this transition for me. Alas, they were simply American, so I waited in private exultation until the plane landed.
Now I am free to explore in this new world.