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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

THE BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD (Part 26: Pacific Northwest)

The following continues the serialization of the final chapter of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:

#9: Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest, in this application, includes the whole region incorporating the States of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, with a focus on the former. Earliest habitation has been recorded as far back as 15,000 years ago. English Captain Francis Drake arrived in Oregon in 1579, followed by Juan de Fuca, Greek captain working for Spain, in 1592. During the mid 1700’s, Russia dispatched Danish explorer Vitus Bering to the area, leading to the coming of Russian settlers later in the century. Captain James Cook also made a stop during this period, and so did several Spanish expeditions. British mariner George Vancouver worked with the Spanish to map the territory around this period, while French explorer Jean Francois La Perouse also laid claim, but unfortunately became shipwrecked in Australia on his way home and officially missed this opportunity. But fresh from the 1804 Louisiana Purchase, President Thomas Jefferson sent Americans Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (right) overland to the Pacific Northwest, strengthening the American claim to the Oregon Territory.

Washington has Microsoft, Starbucks, and the Grand Coulee Dam (largest concrete structure in the U.S.) Wineries are sprouting (429), the state produces 90% of the national raspberries and Mt. Rainier is majestic. Seattle is too rainy, although, granted, their average rainfall is actually half that of Hawaii. The operative parameter should be how gloomy a place feels, as Seattle’s precipitation comes mostly as a mist, while Hilo is known to have the largest raindrops in the world.

Likewise, Oregon has Nike, more than 300 wineries (Portland has more breweries than any city in the world), no sales and minimal corporate taxes and much to do in the wilds. The state has always been that much more concerned about the environment and a touch more humanistic than most. Their general tolerance probably makes Portland a tad edgy, with more homeless than they need and an uncomfortable drug scene, though nothing close to Vancouver.

There are several derivations for the name Idaho, but probably the most accurate has to do with a lobbyist, George Willing, who suggested the term from the Shoshone language, meaning “gem of the mountains.” He later said he made this all up. Yet, this is called the Gem State. Idaho produces one-third the potatoes, has a growing science and technology sector and, from Boise State University, the only undefeated football team in 2006 (the University of Hawaii had the only unblemished regular season record in 2007).

There was the 1700 Cascadia earthquake, and a fear that a really big one could be forming just off the coast of Oregon. Washington’s Mount St. Helens erupted (right) in 1980 killing 57 people. The glacier/snow topping Mt. Rainier has been featured on various Discovery-type channels as showing potential for collapsing and causing havoc to the area surrounding Seattle. However, the combination of the great outdoors, progressive lifestyle and job opportunities make this a most attractive area for living.

Next:  #8 Mauritius

The Dow Jones Industrials went up 20 to 11,691, with world markets also mostly increasing.  However, gold crashed $35 (-2.5%) to $1380 and oil likewise fell more than 2% to $89/barrel.


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