From the city lights and fast-paced life to natural heights in the country life, Kati Dunn is enjoying the change of scenery in Grant County.
Dunn moved to Prairie City in November 2019 after 20 years in Portland and works as an attorney for Strawberry Mountain Law, PC.
“I’m originally from the Midwest, and I moved to Oregon because I got a taste for the outdoors when I waited tables one summer at Yellowstone Park (as an undergraduate student), and that was the first time in my life I have seen snow-capped mountains, rushing rivers and deep forests,” Dunn said. “I had never seen the majestic nature out here in the West.”
Dunn was enthralled with the lifestyle, which was not available in her home state of Illinois.
When Dunn was in law school at the University of Illinois, her hunt for a place to settle and begin her career as a lawyer focused on a location that would give her chances to hike and enjoy outdoor opportunities. She looked at Wyoming, Montana and Washington, but Oregon provided the great combination of outdoor opportunities and a welcoming legal system.
Dunn decided to make Oregon her home. She studied for the Oregon State Bar exam and started her first job as an attorney in Newport on the coast. She then pursued a public defender position in Coos County for about two years.
Desiring the excitement of the city, she then accepted a position with Metropolitan Public Defender in Portland. She said it was a great city, but she began looking for a different opportunity.
“Towards my last three or four years at MPD, I spent more time backpacking and out in the woods and came to understand that that’s when I feel the happiest and most alive and most connected — when I am in nature and can witness the beauty it has,” Dunn said. “I started to realize that doesn’t need to be limited to vacations and weekends because there are people who live in beautiful settings all the time, like here.”
Since making the move to Prairie City, she has enjoyed the breathtaking view of the Strawberry Mountains as she commutes to Canyon City and feels lucky to live a life she only experienced during vacations.
Along with the natural beauty, Dunn has been impressed by the community in Grant County.
“I feel like in a bigger city sometimes you feel like you’re in someone’s way when you’re at the store and blocking their path to what they want from the freezer,” Dunn said. “When here, at Chester’s (Thriftway) you see someone you recognize, and you visit and it’s nice. I’ve found the Grant County folks to be very welcoming.”
Still, she said, she can’t wait for spring so she can explore the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness and hike through miles and miles of solitude among nature.