In outback, Betsy gets her bona fides My take: I've actually been up Rainier Hill plenty of times and driven Apiary Road quite a few times. Nice back road and a good way to get to Portland via Vernonia and Banks if you're not in a hurry. I took Highway 30 home today from Portland and just north of St. Helens where the four-lane highway becomes a two-lane highway, an Oregon State Trooper came racing by me, lights flashing. A few miles later, I saw why: The minivan's driver no doubt found herself suddenly coming up too fast on a car stopped to turn left, hit the brakes hard and took a good solid high-speed skid into the guardrail, bouncing off it to come to rest on the shoulder a few dozen yards down Highway 30. Fortunately, it didn't look like anyone was seriously hurt, although someone's in the market for a new set of family wheels now. Maybe the trooper that went blowing by me was the same one mentioned in the column. It very well could have been, because the ranks of the Oregon State Police are stretched pretty thin, especially in rural areas. The OSP is expected to handle a whole host of other duties besides traffic control, and it's astounding how few officers there are to cover some pretty big country. That geography only stretches out even more when you consider the poverty in some places and the meth problem that's hitting rural areas hard. My point is this: We bitch about taxes, especially with April 15 just past, but the same people who holler the loudest about paying for it always seem to be the first to dial 9-1-1. And people don't always make the connection. Here across the river in Cowlitz County, people are complaining about the cost of a new jail, right after they get done complaining about the cops having to release people they arrest because there's no room in the current jail space. Columbia County is having a property levy dedicated to hiring extra deputies in May's Oregon primary election. Going to be interesting to see if it passes or not.