I spent most of yesterday morning in an uncomfortable state of not knowing where I was. We had only been in Oregon a couple of days, so I still woke up thinking that I was in Sacramento. We had spent the entire previous day indoors, unpacking the mountain of boxes that the moving company had deposited in our house, so very little was done to reinforce the fact that we were in Oregon. To make matters worse, we had stayed up until 3:00 AM trying to get things ready so that we could fly out to Wisconsin for the Real Doctor's parents' 50th wedding anniversary--so I was already thinking hard about Wisconsin, a second home to me.
After three hour's sleep, the Real Doctor and I staggered out to our car, loaded the carry-ons, and drove the three hours to Portland to catch the plane. The road signs did nothing to help my sense of place: there are exits on I-5 in Oregon for the towns of Saginaw, Ontario, Dallas, Boston, Lebanon, and Albany. The geography also conspired against me: after emerging from the hills of Roseburg, I-5 goes through the Willamette Valley, which in places looks an awful lot like the Sacramento Valley between Sacramento and Stockton. In other places, if you can ignore the mountains in the distance, it is a dead ringer for bucolic Wisconsin. I'd say that by 9:00 AM, it would have been really easy to brainwash me. Without too much work, I could have been persuaded that I was driving through Timbuktoo.
Fortunately, at the end of the day's travels, I was given the soundest of moorings to my surroundings. As we circled the Madison airport, the woman in the seat behind me pointed out a lake to her neighbor, and said, "oooh, that's Lake Wescahhnsun," pronouncing "Wisconsin" as only a true native can. Dinner really grounded us in the Dairy State. There is nothing, nothing in the world that tells you where you are like a dinner of deep-fried cheese curds, battered walleye, and a bottle of New Glarus Spotted Cow beer.
A note on the flying experience: the last leg of our journey was on a rather old Airbus A320, at the very back of the plane. The guy in front of me was big, and as soon as the flight started he almost violently reclined his seat as far as he could. I found myself thinking "I just don't know this guy well enough for him to fall asleep with his head in my lap."