"The hills were covered with the sort of trees you buy at Christmas, but bigger."

Nancy Rommelmann, a New York native and recent immigrant from Los Angles, muses on the strange beauty that is Portland, Oregon. Read her post for some appalling stories of anglocentric chauvinism from well-off, "liberal" people in southern California. (I could tell you some stories too), and the contrasting experience of a wine dinner at a winery in the Willamette Valley. (Key concept: relaxed - not "mellow".) Hat tip: the invaluable Michael Totten.

Personal tidbit: When I first moved up to Portland from San Francisco in February 2000, one thing struck me: Portlanders always greet the bus driver when they board, and they say "Thank you" when they disembark. I really like that.