Roughly 7,700 years ago, high in the southern reaches of the Cascade Range, the 12,000-foot Mt. Mazama began to erupt with astonishing force. Over the course of several days, the volcano released a towering column of pumice and ash that reached 30 miles into the atmosphere, spewing debris across 656,000 square miles of what is now the western United States and southwestern Canada.
I’ve always been one to love a good interconnected narrative. It’s the reason I spent much of my twenties poring over the mysteries of LOST, attempting to unravel the connections between survivors and Others and past, present, and future. It’s why in the span of two weeks, I watched every single film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, diving into a meticulously layered chronicle of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra, Nine Realms, a Mad Titan, and a team of avenging heroes.
The first time I ever saw Zion National Park was by accident. In July 2001, as my family was moving (and driving) from the San Francisco Bay Area to Washington, D.C., our trusted Chevy Suburban ran into trouble in the desert outside Las Vegas.
It’s been a difficult few weeks here in Portland. On the afternoon of September 2, a teenage boy tossed a smoking firecracker into Eagle Creek Canyon, igniting a blaze that quickly consumed more than 35,000 acres. As firefighters worked to contain the devastation, Portlanders were left helpless as the Columbia River Gorge went up in flames and ash fell upon the city like a terrible, unwelcome snow.
One of the things I love most about living in Portland is the perpetual, snow-capped backdrop of Mt. Hood, the prominent 11,249-foot volcano that dominates the horizon to the east. Whether I’m crossing the Fremont Bridge or circling the top of Mt. Tabor, a glimpse of the lonely mountain always gives me a bit of a thrill—and not just because it signifies a temporary break in the rain.