Being Oregonian – My Classic Family Road Trip

By Diya Dwarankanath

Even the global citizen has a special place they associate with home. If you disagree, I recommend reading the short story, A Cosmopolitan in a Café, by the American author, O’Henry.  In this piece of literature, a man, endearingly named by the narrator as a “cosmopolitan”, claims to have no piddling feelings for any one place; he says “It’ll be a better world when we quit being fools about some mildewed town or ten acres of swampland just because we happened to be born there.” But just when you, the reader, perhaps start to feel guilty for being sentimental for your own hometown, the cosmopolitan gets in a brawl over a negative remark said about his own birthplace in Maine. O’Henry’s fictional account inspired me to write about a recent family road trip.

Your hometown, home state, or home country means something to you. Often the meaning is small, but distinct – like the fresh smell of the soil when it rains, unique to my home state, Oregon. Actually, I’ve lived in two countries, India and the United States, and three states in America—Oregon, California, and Massachusetts. Whenever I move, people always ask me, “Where do you come from?” and “What’s it like back home?” Answering these questions make me more aware of my roots.

And more aware of what I am missing.

When my family moved to Oregon, one of the first things I remember learning about American life is that families went on road trips. Oregonian families specifically went on road trips to Crater Lake, one of the most famous attractions in Oregon. My friends told me about the road trips they took there, but that it was a multi-day commitment. As a child, I insisted that my family should go, but the timing never worked out.

After moving away from home, I realized how lucky I was to have such a beautiful natural landmark in my home state, and how unlucky I was to still have never seen it… until last summer that is. When we finally we made the trip to southern Oregon, it easily took its place as one of my top  favorite destinations. Furthermore, I’m glad we went when I had a driver’s license because I drove us back on the return. Part of any classic road trip is driving the car yourself, duh!

Photo is author’s own

We stayed in Klamath Falls, mainly known for hosting tourists who come to see Crater Lake. We took a bus from the hotel to see Crater Lake for the first time. I was peering out the window and there was a bend in the road. Out of nowhere, the lake came into view. It took my breath away.

Crater Lake was formed after a volcanic eruption collapsed the volcano into itself, creating a huge crater. To give you an idea of the size, the trolley ride around the rim of the crater took one and a half hours! It is the deepest lake in the United States and is famous for its vivid blue color. When I think about the definition of the color blue, I will forever think of Crater Lake.

I twisted and turned to capture the entire lake within the lens of a puny camera, but I could not. However, even a fraction of Crater Lake is magnificent from any angle. I took the picture seen here from my smartphone (not even the latest version!) without any edits, and seeing it feels surreal every time.

I gave up trying to get the perfect picture and just soaked in the view with my family. Spending time with my family at a beautiful place we had been wanting to go to for years was worth every cranky minute of the 5 hour drive. In my mind, we were now true Oregonians.

Featured image by Boston Public Library on Flickr

Diya is a first-year graduate student doing her Master’s in Biomedical Engineering. She also did her undergraduate degree from USC so she knows her way around campus, including some of the best study spots!  After graduating, she worked for two years, at a medical device start-up and at a large technology company, but is now excited to be back in school! In her free time, you’ll find Diya writing, dancing (she’s a trained Indian classical dancer but loves any style), going shopping, or watching TV/movies.