Falling in Love with a New World

When people learn that I am a part of the CLM Program that is through the Chicago Botanic Garden, the first thing that happens is my being asked if I am from Chicago. The second thing that happens, when they learn that I am, in fact, from Atlanta, is that I receive a smirk and am given a casual comment about how Atlanta, Georgia has to be pretty different from Vale, Oregon.

“Casual,” is a key word there; it’s really too blase, because compared to Atlanta, Vale is a completely different world! It’s not simply because it’s on the other side of the country, but the population and town sizes are smaller, there are no tall buildings and it occasionally smells like onions … The craziest thing though, there are barely any trees!

Please try to understand, I’m a nature girl. My bachelors is in Wildlife Biology. I love being outside, and in Georgia, being outside in nature means being surrounded by a mosaic of tree species, it means hiking in the woods, with rolling hills, and it means sweating and seeking a nonexistent relief from the humid, hot, buggy atmosphere. I love Georgia.

Coming to Vale was quite a shock. When you think of Oregon, your mind automatically travels to Portland, a rainy metropolis where it’s rumored that only the tourist use umbrellas, so imagine my surprise when I was told that Vale, which is in the eastern most part of the state, right up alongside the Idaho border, is actually a part of the Oregon High Desert. There are a lot of hills and mountainous areas in Eastern Oregon … with very few trees and because it sits east of the Cascades, it’s in what is called a Rain Shadow, creating an area that receives little rainfall.

Another surprise is that “high desert” doesn’t equate to a large area with nothing but sand and the occasional oasis. The area surrounding Vale is so pleasantly unique from what I know, with its foreign wildlife, winding rivers, large lakes and shrubby hills, and it is so surprisingly beautiful that I find myself bursting with excitement at the opportunities to go out, explore, and learn about this new world.

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I’m working as a GIS intern. I don’t have the opportunity to be outside all the time, but I’ve already received several opportunities to go out, see and do some really cool things that are unique to the BLM in Vale, Oregon. I’m glad to say my shock, has turned into delight, as I slowly adapt to my new surroundings.

I’m so excited for the adventures ahead.

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