Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Road Trip


Washington State's Hwy 26 will remain firmly in my memory for one thing- the smell of onions. I don't know if they were the Walla Walla sweet variety, but the air was infused with an oniony aroma. They grow lots of things along this stretch of road in east central Washington. Orchards, vineyards, hillsides covered with corn, hay, and it is a no- nonsense road, deviating neither to the right or the left through a broad river valley with no river. Never mind, there is another valley nearby with a mighty titan of a river, flowing with the gathered waters of northern glaciers and snows, so they borrow a little of it to make their valley green.
Later on the road enters the Palouse, one of the world's premier wheat growing areas. All these gently rolling hills are covered with stubble, the harvest already in. I didn't count the miles, but it was around Colfax where the wheatfields started and they even continued on into Idaho in a district blessed with coal black soil.
We seldom think of these places when we pick up a loaf of bread at Safeway, but this is where it comes from, and the hard handed people who live here are the ones who put it there. All the roads, the stores, the check out ladies, would have no purpose without these people and we denizens of the city wouldn't eat.
Well, today was the second day of Fat Man's Odyssey, and of course it's been raining most of the way. Hardly anyone travels Hwy 26 except the people who work in the area, which is the way I like it. Let the herds jockey for position on the multi lane throughways, too busy driving to look around. It's a good place for them, keeps them out of the way. I'll be trying to keep to side roads as much as possible on this journey through the US. I'm already missing my pretty Victoria, a lovely lady who is familiar with my ways and indulgent, too, but it's time to take a look around at a number of places I have yet to see. Can't wait much longer, you never know when advancing age will decide to incapacitate some important faculty. And besides, I'm getting a little querulous and fearful as old people are wont. So I'd better do it now.
I have long had a hankering to see the Atlantic coast, the Old South, the Appalachians, the Mississippi River, and alligators. So here I go. And yet already, after only two days, I'm missing pretty little Victoria. I hope I make it.
I've been through the countryside of Eastern Washington many times before. You won't see it on many tourist guides but the hills, valleys, plateaus are awesomely beautiful. Grand and sweeping are the vistas. Fertile farms intersperse with dusty near-desert. In fact I went through a town called Dusty today. Hawks on fenceposts. Too bad John Ford never found this place.
I've never been to Southern Idaho. But that's where I'm spending the night, by the banks of the Salmon River at the bottom of a narrow gorge where the brown hills crowd close together. Tomorrow I'll pass through Boise on my way to Wyoming. From now on everything's new to me.
Hope you'll enjoy coming along for the ride.

No comments:

Post a Comment