A Grin at the End: Faster, higher, stronger – Oregon style

August 2021 Posted in Uncategorized

carl sampson

The Olympics have been over for some time now, but I’m not over the Olympics. The thrill of victory – and the agony of defeat – played out on an international stage is the best way I know to recognize our commonality. We are, after all, passengers on a single lonely planet amid billions of galaxies.

To keep that spirit alive, I propose a new type of Olympics. The main difference: only Oregonians can compete in these games because only we can understand them.

Welcome to the Oregon Olympics!

Competition No.1: the Bottle Jam. Each competitor – called a jammer – gets a bag full of empty beer and soda cans and bottles. Whoever jams them into the recycling machine fastest wins. If the machine fills up, the jammer automatically loses.

Competition No. 2: the Airport Crawl. Every Oregonian knows what it’s like to try make a flight at the Portland Airport but gets caught in a traffic jam on I-5 or I-205. But there’s a twist. In this race, the winner is the competitor who can drive from my house to the airport the slowest. A brother-in-law holds the current record for the 71-mile one-way trip – 2.5 hours. That’s an average of 28 mph. Top that!

Competition No. 3: Best Riot. No one has as much experience putting on riots as Portlandians. By most counts, they had more than 100 riots in a row last year. That’s impressive. Somewhat less impressive is what they accomplished, other than making that city’s mayor and the governor look inept and making parts of the city look like a war zone.

Competition No. 4: Traversing the Wilsonville Vortex. In this challenge, competitors try to get through Wilsonville on I-5 without slowing down. To win, competitors must drive past that mystical town at the posted speed limit. Good luck!

Competition No. 5: the Highway 22 Gauntlet. Highway 22 east of Salem is a well-known speed trap. State troopers, Marion County deputies and random local police officers park on the side of the road to catch any poor soul exceeding the speed limit. The goal is simply driving through that area without getting stopped. Watch out for those blue and red lights!

Competition No. 6: Campground Drumming. In this competition, campers will be challenged to find a spot in a state park that doesn’t have drummers banging their bongos through the night. Every time I have gone camping in Oregon, others were working as hard as they could to make as much noise as they could. Silence, please!

Competition No. 7: Avoiding Portland. The final challenge is staying the heck out of Portland. Oregon’s largest city lost its charm long ago. Winners get points for finding new ways to stay away from Portland. For example, I’ve quit flying out of Portland’s airport. Hint: try the Eugene airport. It’s about the same distance and it takes far less time to get there. (See Competition No. 2.)

So there you have it – the Oregon Olympics. I’m sure we all can come up with our own competitions to add to the list.

And the winners get to sing Oregon’s state song, “Oregon, My Oregon,” both the old and the new versions.

Carl Sampson has lived in Stayton 22 years.
He is a freelance editor and writer.

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