Sunday, August 23, 2009


We been drivin' for days.

We took off Friday night for Weiser to watch Haley graduate from a Northwest Youth Corps back country session for the fifth or sixth time. We stayed the first night in Baker City at a crappy motel and left early for Weiser. This time the ceremony was outside in the blazing eastern sun near Mann Creek Reservoir. I've always wanted to see Weiser, home of the fiddle championships. It isn't much, an old Idaho town, old houses, no money for paint.

I also love Weezer's song Island in the Sun.... we'll never feel bad anymore. hip hip.

The drive over was pretty much how the drive is from Portland to LaGrande: beautiful at first as we drove through the gorge, then fascinating as we approached The Nothing--that great flat quilt of parched land rolling out beyond the turn in the river where the Mighty Columbia heads for the ocean at Umatilla or Hermiston or something and leaves Oregon to die of thirst. From then, well, staying awake was the task. New wind farms have sprouted up along either side of 84, strange plantations, the Washington windmills visible only from Oregon and vice versa. They are cartoonishly large, with generators the size of a schoolbus sitting atop towers well over two hundred feet tall. Occasionally we came upon one visible from the road, shockingly white against the perfect blue sky, propellers twirling slowly in a steady wind in a 154 foot swath. It was hard not to stare.

Once we were done in Weiser, we headed for Caldwell Idaho to visit my neice. They have a lovely small farm on the outskirts. Idaho looked like I expected Idaho to look. I've seen the panhandle, but never south. Rural. White. Republican. Cassie explained all that to me in advance. But being from Southern Oregon, and lily white, I would have been right at home.

After visiting Cassie and Mike, we took off for northeastern Oregon, home of the beautiful Wallowa Valley, which seems a generous reward for enduring The Nothing. We passed through part of Hell's Canyon and into the green green grass of Joseph at sunset. Because this was a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants road trip, no advance reservations were made and there was a big ol' bike rally in Joseph and no lodging in the entire county except Minam. We'd heard it was a Bates Motel, so we drove all the way back to LaGrande to get a room.

So, we came back home along the Washington side, stopping only at the pretend Stonehenge which is actually a WWII monument with an inscription on the sacrificial altar that read something like, "blah blah blah...and the fire of patriotism that only death can quench." What -- really? Only death? Not even an Original Reed's Ginger Brew?

And what does stonehenge have to do with WWII?

And now my husband, doomsayer that he is, is looking at video clips of windmills exploding in flames and coming apart in a stiff wind. Geez. It is good to be home.


asia said...

i love those wind farms. they are so eerie and sci-fi looking.

Roy said...

"The Nothing?" It sounds like the entire state of Kansas.

someone said...

maybe we were in Kansas.