At the Helm: It’s only thirty miles people!
Written by Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer   
April 02, 2011 04:00 am

For more than 11 years, my wife and I have made many trips from Brookings to Gold Beach. We go there twice a week for our daughter’s gymnastics practice, or simply just for the drive. Each time, we find ourselves marveling at the beauty of the Oregon Coast.

On a recent trip, the experience was heightened by the tumultuous weather that changed from sunshine and rainbows to wind and rain, and back again. It was invigorating! I wanted it to last forever, but it didn’t. The half-hour trip to Gold Beach ended much too soon.

Now that notion may sound odd to some folks. I’m aware there are people in Gold Beach and Brookings who dread taking any trips outside their respective towns.

That perspective seems  bizarre to someone like me, who used to live in Southern California, where it was common to spend 30 minutes driving five miles in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

A friend of mine, who escaped the Rat Race and now resides in Gold Beach, felt similarly. He recently visited a relative in the Portland area where, he said, driving anywhere – to the store, the movies, a friend’s house – was at least a 30-minute drive.

I asked him why it is that people living on the Southern Oregon Coast dread driving between Brookings and Gold Beach, or Brookings and Crescent City, for that matter.

He didn’t have an answer, but he pointed out that it’s a common attitude not just here, but in rural regions across the U.S.

Hmm. Are we creatures of comfort and just don’t want to make the effort? I think there’s some truth in that, based on a conversation I had with Michelle Carrillo, the 4-H youth development coordinator. She lives in Brookings. Her office is in Gold Beach.

Carrillo recounted many instances in which the parents of potential or existing 4-H members declined to attend an event or class simply because the event was taking place 30 miles away in Gold Beach or Brookings.

Again, I don’t get it, and neither did Carrillo (who, by the way, grew up in Brookings).

I’m always looking for excuses to get out of town. I look forward to driving to and from Gold Beach or Crescent City. I like to see how the landscape has changed since the last time I passed through.

Quite often the Graves family hops in the car and journeys to Gold Beach just to get what we affectionally called “killer brownies” at the Wedderburn Store. We also trek to Crescent City just to visit their KidTown playground, the swimming pool, or visit the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center.

I must admit that the recession and the rising cost of gas has curtailed some of our outings. However, we don’t skip trips simply because 30 miles is an inconvenience.

Thinking back to my life driving the streets and freeways of Southern California, all I can remember is looking at brake lights, smoking tailpipes, garish billboards,  smog-covered hillsides and graffiti.

Driving the Oregon Coast, the view is ... well, just short of what Heaven must be.

Perhaps readers can shed some light on this issue. If you have some insights on why some people don’t like to drive from one town to another, I’d like to hear it. Send your information using the contact information below. Thanks.