Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lost Behind the Ranges

“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges—
  “Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”

Thanks to Rudyard Kipling I can express what I cannot explain.

Traveling by Interstate Freeway in the Western States of the Union, the miles zip across endless sagebrush with a few agricultural valleys interjected by hardy Pioneers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The many mountain ranges blur on all sides as the routes follow the tracks of the explorers over the better passes now not even a challenge except on the storm days.

I have a voice to the world; first to a few friends on Facebook and this blog for what it's worth. It helps not to be so lonely. And it seems that I was born with a heavy sense of place because everywhere I've been in the West, or even those few, undiscovered corners, weigh on my memory of Native peoples and Europeans, now all Americans, and all funneling into my memories of time and space. Wide space.

It's not any lure of death-defying adventure that draws me across the ranges. Some travel is for my work on behalf of the people of the Federal Union, but mostly I travel to be with family. 

Family buzzes with occasional missed connections in the switches of my brain. Memories tend to round the rough edges of times that were sometimes less than pleasant and on very rare occasion even shockingly stark. Warmth like a blanket comforts in current times, especially in the land of my formative years - the forests of the Pacific Northwest where Mountains meet the Ocean seemingly unaware of the millions of us who inhabit rather damp lands of every shade of green and gray. Moisture - appropriately blessed in abundance.

Yesterday, I traveled a significant distance from the Salt Lake of the Great Basin to the Freshwater Port of the Willamette. The only concerns I had were the jitters of too much Diet Pepsi to keep me going and the fog that covered the Columbia Plateau and sank into the Gorge. On the day before Valentines, red petals were flying along the asphalt with occasional fleshy flashes of white. Did some transport of roses explode? No, the winter is warm and I had on outside air with a slight coolness to it then a whiff of onion. Yes, Vidalia onions. It was the skins of onions from an empty truck that I finally passed.

But there was a potential explosion brewing. 65 MPH in Oregon really is more civilized and less stressful than barreling along at 80 in the wanna-be lawless intermountain states. The fog was thicker along the Columbia and a little unnerving as a blank on the right where the river and Washington State should be. Drivers were roaring along above the limit (still in Eastern Oregon), but the temperature was still well above freezing so I wasn't too worried about sliding into a pile-up. 

Then there was an orange light to the left. It grew to a flame. There had been a few fields of stubble being burned on my way. But this was a truck - a cab of a new-car carrier in flames and the first car above the cab was also roaring in flames! There were a few cars parked already on the shoulders so I did not stop or call. I sure hope the guy got out of the cab. Being parked a ways off the road indicated that he likely did. I soon saw two wildfire-fighting trucks flashing lights and speeding back that way.

There were no more events as the fog lifted oddly where the trees began on the west side of the Gorge. I coasted in following the Google-map lady's voice as I twisted around the hills, rivers, and cityscape of the Rose City. 

Arrival. And what was waiting for me? Hugs from kids and the Granddaughter. And a performance of Disney's "Let It Be" like no other. There was nothing lost behind the Mountains. I found family.

My Darling Granddaughter at Pioneer Square, Portland, Oregon

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