Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Drive East

Took off mid-day in the Rubazu, so I could arrive in Walla Walla (at Stud Farmhand's place) by early evening. Of course I wasn't anticipating dead night at 5:00, which I should have, I missed some dandy scenery toward the end there.

Going East is always a good idea for me in the winter. The clouds thin. It's not blazingly sunny here, but the air is more crisp and the clouds are wispy, and there is more color. But I digress.

The gorge was naked and frosted [to those of you who came up with improper images from that sentence, bravo]. The basalt cliffs were wonderfully enunciated by snow, and the deciduous trees were down to trunks and sticks, allowing me some good musing about future mushroom hunting expeditions. It was nice to see the gorge in the dead of winter again, I don't know that I have in quite some time.

I was on the phone with family, stopping discussion to describe this or that feature of the landscape, for much of the drive out past The Dalles. I was in geniune basalt grassland-steppe ecology before I hung up the phone and listened to the wind for a while. I love the look of those soft hills, they remind me of the central California hills I saw so much as a child during family driving vacations. I told my parents emphatically once, I think I must have been 4 or 5, that the hills were enormous sleeping dinosaurs that just got covered in soil over time. They still look like that to me.

Once I'd had enough of untrammelled driving sounds, I set my radio to "scan" and sat back. This is a favorite form of entertainment for me when I'm driving in The Boonies. It always prompts musings upon the strength of Christian influence on current state of affairs, the prevalence of Latin American culture in our agricultural areas (many "um-pah-pah stations encountered), and how classic rock can be a safe haven in the land of pop twangy country.

I'm sorry country fans, I only go for the old stuff, bluegrassy or bluesey or rockabilly'y (I know that's not a word shut up). I even like a bit of old style country swing. But modern country leads me to veer into coming traffic lunging for the radio dial.

The first song that I stopped the scan on was one of my favorite tunes of all time, Joe Cocker's version of Feelin' Alright. I drove through some more beautiful grey-blue, rolling hazy flat country to that tune, tapping out the drum line, or strumming or singing with it. After that, the scan began again. A twangy country singer wailing about how much he adores his wife, with almost Hallmark (tm) level sap accompanying him. I feel the same way about my wife, but I don't submit others to it... geez.

There was some fantastically atrocious Prog-rock (Rush's Fly By Night comes to mind), and no I didn't stop the scan at that point. Some Creedence came on, but that was too cliche'd for this drive -- been there done that.

At this point, I was starting to clear the rise near Boardman, where apparently "Tri Cities" (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland) stations can be caught. The demographic went very "modern" and commercial right quick. Instead of a meditation on 2-second sound bites of Christianity, bordered by Umpapa music and mariachies, I was stopped on Soulja Boy Crank Dat. I bumped this loud for a while, and stopped my rural radio meditations.

By 4:28 I was driving by (through? around?) Helix Oregon, and it was nearly dark. I'd settled on National Pubic Radio (might be a typo, might not, you decide), and was closing in on Stud Farmhand's place.

One note from the Farmhand household (his mother is visiting right now too), when it was time to settle down for bed, there was a divvying up of dogs -- "ok Mom you take Annie, we'll have Sophie and Trouble and Monty can stay with Bp." Sleeping next to a sprawled out, lightly snoring bird dog is like taking a triple dose of Zolpidem Tartrate -- I slept like a corpse (apologies for invoking Big Pharm, but it struck me as funny).

Ps: When I woke up at sunrise and looked at the Out Back from his place, it really does look just like the mantle of his blog -- beautiful.

More Later,

Enjoy your travel adventures, no matter how small,



Katye said...

Nice to keep up with you there toots. You misspelled improper in the "naked" paragraph, of course I think that is cute!

I expect many photos of large dog noses trailing into small dogs behind them.

Bpaul said...

Estu doesn't have spell check on all the time like my crippled ass does, so I'm going to have to skim for spelling errors better when I'm out here LOL.

I'll work on dog photos, they're quite the ravening troupe.

Tate said...

Damn that is beautiful scenery. would love to live out there. i miss dryer climates, don't mind cold just like dry

Bpaul said...

I tell you, Walla Walla is very cool. I'll see what I can post to give you an idea about it. Just back in now from the day.