February 23rd, 2018

Tiny Travels: A Love Letter to the Newberg-Dundee Bypass

Dear Newberg-Dundee Bypass,

In vain I have struggled to hold back my feelings. It will not do. I can no longer mask my ardor, the unrequited passion I feel surging in the depths of my being whenever I glimpse the verdant, silver-lettered sign heralding an alternative route from the beginning of Newberg to just past Dundee.

So many times in this life have I been scorn by the displeasure of advanced opinions long before I get to experience a thing for myself. And so it was with you.  As I awaited your arrival, it was as if the novelist Don DeLillo was tapping on my shoulder, warning me, as he does in White Noise, about how once you’ve seen a picture of a barn you can no longer actually see the barn.

So yes, I had seen the plans for you, Bypass, I had read the discussions, registered the anger and the dollar signs, weighed the supporters and detractors, taken in the months of news alerting me to your momentous opening. You were built in our minds before you could be built in our hearts.

And yet, I will assert it until my dying breath:

Newberg-Dundee Bypass: I see you.

I see you curving towards the Dundee Hills, redolent of a river, sweet as a song, your concrete so unmarred, your pavement pristine, your drivers relaxed, soft bodies dipped in serenity and not at all concerned about what they might be missing.

What they are missing are Newberg and Dundee, two towns sometimes relegated to drive-through status, towns growing in my esteem and admiration because I get to visit them intentionally. It is you, Bypass, who have made all things better, you great diverter of traffic. It is you who have made the walk across the highway from Argyle Winery to Red Hills Market a street crossing instead of a game of Frogger.

Are you not the true meaning of the word freedom? Do your five minutes saved not come with something much deeper, the chance to move unimpeded through the world, with only the side barriers to hold you back? Are you not the answer to the most important question posed by all long-term love stories: How shall we find another way, together?

You are my four-mile mid-day asana, my sweet side glance of century-old oaks, my moment of deepest exhale, my sensual embrace of time and place. And you flow, like not like blood surges and pauses in the heart – that feels like actual traffic – but like a feeling that sweeps over you when you are looking at the landscape and not a red light.

It has been over a month, and yet, my love grows stronger still. My skin tingles at the thought of you, and I find my thoughts wandering your way in the wee hours of the morning, when everything in life seems possible, everything in love reachable, everything in McMinnville just a few minutes less than an hour from downtown Portland.


Emily Grosvenor

Emily Grosvenor is the editor of Oregon Home magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @emilygrosvenor.