Day 1: 6/18/10 PDX to Ogden, UT
Driving through the gorge by yourself is always slightly disappointing because you can’t ogle the scenery for more than three second snaps. For some reason, the cliffs cloaked in fog cause me to ponder what it would be like to explore a landscape untrodden by man. Lewis and Clark don’t count, the land they explored was inhabited, but some planetary plane where man beams down (not unlike Star Trek) to discover a steaming earth just out of the intergalactic oven. The white shroud suggests birth and death, ambiguous whether it’s a new world or an old one, wrapped and swaddled in the secrecy of an unknown metamorphosis.
I caught sight of three deer in one of those snaps. Sadly, not a mile further down the road I saw a faded red platter on the pavement and an abandoned Civic with the front end smashed in. You do the math. What exists in one moment, does not in another. Roadkill has always disturbed me on a fundamental level. Deer, their tongues lolling out of the sides of their mouths, stare at me accusingly with unseeing eyes. I recall reading an apologetic essay in my Writing about Nature class at the UO, where the author drives around with a shovel in the back of his car for a time and buries the furry souls he encounters, saying a few words over their mangled bodies and contemplating the speed of life—the speed at which it comes and goes. The unfortunate thing is that we are all apologists about the use of modern transportation. Indeed, I wouldn’t be on this roadtrip without it.
As for other inanimate forms, I gazed, fascinated as always, at the alien wind turbines. They stand in groups waving their three pronged hands at the sky as it communicating in some secret language to their brethren in the outer limits.
The drive between Pendleton and Ontario is a pleasure. I cannot say the same for the empty slog across the width of Idaho. To amuse myself I moo at the dairy cows and laugh at the sign advertising compost in Magic Valley, neighboring their hundreds of stanchions. Come on, lay off the blame on cow flatulence and give them some carbon offset credit for contributing to the fertilization of the famous Idahoan potato you are eating for dinner.
The remainder of the drive was mostly nondescript, punctuated by moronic behavior behind the wheels of other vehicles, the passing of countless 18-wheelers, the strange limb movements I make to prevent muscle rigidity, and my really bad outbursts of singing when a tune catches my ear.
I stayed in downtown Ogden for the night in a hotel listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Some event is going on in the plaza near the hotel involving loud music and young people. Not for me, I’m falling asleep with Patsy Cline.
Jenny Gapp, has eighteen years experience as a teacher librarian, four seasons as a seasonal state park ranger assistant, and two summers adventuring with National Parks in an official capacity.