Monday, August 31, 2009
Road trip to Boise
Took a drive. Just got in the car and went. The days of Happy Motoring are numbered, so enjoy them while they last. Off to Boise, Idaho, because I'd never been to Idaho before, except one time, when I was 15 and we drove through on our way home from visiting the Grand Canyon.
On through the ancient Columbia Gorge, scoured and shaped by the deluge of melting glaciers. Green and lush at the western end. But as you go east, the verdant gives way to colors bleaker but no less beautiful. Now, the splash of green offered by water reeds stands out in contrast to the sun-pelted gray-brown of sage and lava rock.
Except, of course, for the gold of ripened grain that Oregon's rural denizens have coaxed out of the stingy soil with languid Columbia River lifeblood. High desert mountain boy I may be, at heart. But I came to the green valley city long ago. Now these vast prairies and lonesome, boundless fields fill me with anxiety, despite their undeniable beauty.
I stopped to snap a few photos at a rest area somewhere between LaGrande and Baker City. A black cow was grazing near the fence. As I moved closer, my bovine friend grew wary, then moved away. "Don't worry," I said. "I'm not gonna hurt ya." But then I saw the tag in her ear and I thought about the hamburger I had eaten the night before... and I wondered if my words were true.
Up into the Blue Mountains. Dark green contrast of evergreens mark well the courses of watery arteries. The sun paints the earth in these lands. Only hardscrabble sage can leech enough moisture from the coarse soil.
A man could die out here. Many have. Including the unfortunate Otter-Van Orman party of 1860, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Massacred at the hands of natives, no doubt frightened by and resentful of the incessant westward pushing of Caucasians into lands that they knew would never again be as they had been in the age of their innocence. No serpent tempted these with promises of delectable fruit. They did not leave Eden. It dissolved around them.
And eventually arrived at Boise, Idaho. My destination. The sun fell quickly as I walked along the Boise River, leaving me pinching my lower lip, thinking.