I've said elsewhere that eastern Oregon is not for everybody. Today I'd like to talk about the very select group of people who should be coming here.
The average person would probably not have a great time here for we are nothing like Orlando or Las Vegas. And, from our point of view, large numbers of visitors would destroy many of the things that make eastern Oregon special. We want to be mindful of who and what we are so that our visitors' numbers never exceed a sustainable level.
I think the maximum number of visitors Grant County could accommodate without problems is around three hundred thousand visitors per year. To put this in perspective, the population of this planet is currently around seven billion. Thus, we hope to attract no more than .004% of the world's population in any given year.
So, how does one determine whether they are a member of this .004 per cent?
First, can you make the transition from an environment where things are measured in gigahertz to a place where time is measured in seasons?
If you check your cell phone constantly, you might not like it here. There are many places in Grant County where cell service is non-existent. In fact, most of the area in Grant County has no cell service, no phone or power lines and no paved roads.
You might not realize it, but you have lived your whole life bathed in a continuous sixty hertz buzz. Every light flickers at this frequency, every motor hums at some harmonic of sixty hertz. One usually does not notice it because it so constant. But it does affect you. It might make you uncomfortable if it went away.
In most of Grant County, if you didn't bring it with you, you'll have to do without. The nearest store of any kind is typically thirty miles away. And anyway, it has a very limited selection and closes at 6pm.
On the other hand, I recently read an interview* with a man who spent thirty years alone in the Maine woods. He said \"With no audience...I was just there.There was no need to define myself. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand....I was completely free.\"
You do not need to go as far as eastern Oregon to find a place where no one else is watching, but it is easier here. You may find that this can give you a sense of perspective, a chance to perceive both the big, timeless things which are completely beyond human scale and the small and evanescent things which nevertheless count for a great deal.
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*Michael Finkel Sept 2014 GQ