Saturday, July 29, 2017

Not Pioneer Stock

There's more than one way of getting to the little lake we wanted to visit. We wanted to take the Pacific Crest Trail, famous for scenically containing Reese Witherspoon and her giant backpack in Wild. But the signage was unclear, and we accidentally took a parallel path. After a quarter mile, it dumped us onto a dirt road. In fact, we were on the famous Barlow Road, named after Famous Barlow, who did some honest work felling trees and widening deer trails to allow passage of a covered wagon, or a few hundred thousand, across a major volcano, and collecting a nice toll at a cinch point. Without a doubt, I presumed, this road would transition back into an attractive woodsy trail and meet up with our destination lake, which not only had a mountain view but was likely to harbor gray jays. We like birds that land on us. We'd brought an entire baggie of Cheerios just for them.

"Not to worry," I told Dave, consulting my mental map--old people still have those--"this will end up in the same place if we just keep on it." And so I fervently believed for about four miles. The road failed to adjourn to woodsiness and dust began associating with my pants. I was, in fact, dusty. Like the people on the Oregon Trail, I said to myself.

The Oregon Trail is local history and of much interest to those who trace their heritage to it, but I never got real interested. Seemed so bleak. All dust and slog and sizing up your companions as possible dinner material. You didn't even get to ride in the wagon much. You were too busy fixing your wheel or pushing your oxen out of a rut or dividing a potato nine ways. And you probably started out starving or you wouldn't have left in the first place.

Maybe most people looking for a home in America were driven as much by the need to escape something as the promise of a better future. My ancestors had hopes of finding a territory unscathed by religion, so they could put a bunch of theirs in it. You might be seasick in a tub of a boat or eating dust on the trail, but none of it was easy.

This Barlow Road was beginning to get on my nerves. There should have been a tie trail to the Pacific Crest at some point, but it kept not showing up. The dust made me want to push my bonnet back with a weary forearm and say Lawsa Mercy and Saints Alive. Then I got bit by a mosquito. I can go years between mosquito bites if I stick close to home. Then came the second mosquito. I can do math, and I was thinking geometric progression. What's the point of already being in Oregon if we have to be on the Oregon Trail again? The road veered away from the direction I'd imagined the lake was. A fly showed up with a vicious gleam in its compound eye. Dave was squinting at me like he was wondering how I'd go with potatoes. I began to doubt that we were going to find the lake. Maybe this road was going somewhere else.

Maybe Kansas.

But maybe that's not all bad, I thought, rationalizing another quarter mile. Some of the very nicest people I've ever known are from Kansas.

Oh wait. They're from Kansas. Which means they got the hell out.

We turned back. We saw a deer. We had a beer. Someday soon, folks are going to be on the move again, likely without electricity or reliable food sources. But no point going pioneer until we have to.

36 comments:

  1. If you like birds that land on you, you should go to the beach and open a bag of Fritos. But don't say I didn't warn you!

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    1. I once fed the seagulls in Cape May, and ended up wearing a "coat of many gulls". It was pretty cool, actually.

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    2. Oh my goodness, Sub Cor, I think "under your swim dress" is the WORST place to hide your Fritos!

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    3. On the other hand, it depends what you're trying to attract.

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  2. What a co-incidence (Oh wait, there are no co-incidences!)I'm finally reading "Wild." Not sure I picture her as Witherspoon though. It's been on my bucket list to hike one of these famous trails - PCT, Appalachian, the Camino de Santiago....After reading "Wild" and this I may just have to hike them from my armchair.

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    1. I liked most of that book. But my favorite part was right at the beginning when she got trapped on the floor because she couldn't stand up with her backpack on.

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  3. I'm reading "The Best Land Under Heaven"---about the Donner Party-some party--- (even though I know how it ends) and it's fascinating. I'm no camper, so thank goodness I didn't have to explore any unknown territories!

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    1. That's one party where you want to stay away from the food table....

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    2. (Not original:)

      Mrs. Johnson, a member of the Donner Party, was struggling along with everyone else; Mr. Johnson had fallen ill, and she thought things could not possibly get worse, when Mr. Donner came up to her and said, "Mrs. Johnson, I have some bad news. Your husband is gone."

      Mrs. Johnson gasped and her hand flew to her mouth. "...All gone?"

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    3. Evil, I say. Just evil. But so funny!!!

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  4. But you got some excellent pictures and a blog post out of it, so all was not lost, even if you two were.

    Canada was going to get a new national bird (according to the Royal Canadian Geographical Society) and we had all decided on gray jay but then the powers that be decided we didn't need one after all - see here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/national-bird-grey-jay-canada-150-1.4187987 . . . I was bummed about that. Seeing them perch on Dave makes me even more bummed about it.

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    1. Oh crumb! I thought you did have a national bird, and it was the loon. It's on your money. Here in Oregon, we have the Western Meadowlark, and this year there was a push to change it to Osprey, because we have scads of those and most people never see a meadowlark.

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    2. No, sadly we don't yet have a national bird. But I found another article that suggests we may yet get the gray jay as our national bird, and that we might bloody re-name it! I didn't know that was kosher ... anyway, if you're interested, here's the link: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/07/06/canadas-national-bird-flies-into-some-turbulence.html

      And the osprey is the official bird of Nova Scotia, which is my home province, but we can share!!

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    3. Naw, I want the meadowlark. Let people go looking for it.

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    4. The loon is the official bird of Ontario. Where I happen to live. Not that I'm bragging or anything.

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    5. Brag away. If I could have a neighbor bird of my choosing, it would be a loon. We have them here but not so's you'd notice. I'd also dearly love a woodcock WHICH I'VE NEVER SEEN.

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  5. So you never found the lake... and mosquitos... They love me so that would have stopped me right there!

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    1. We've been to that lake a bunch of times, just not this way. I'll bet you anything it was just around the next bend. But that's the kind of thing you can say for a lot of bends in a row and not get anywhere.

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  6. At least you've been able to find your way home. So far.

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    1. Honey, that's where most of the beer lives.

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  7. This is the third time 'Wild' the book has crossed my consciousness in as many days. I may have to get to it sooner than I had planned.
    Only two squito bites? I wish. If I am bitten it is always by many, many more.

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    1. I almost loved Wild. I have my quibbles.

      Meanwhile, I certainly grew up with mosquitoes, and gnats, and chiggers, but here I sleep with the windows wide open and no screens. A girl could get used to that, and I have. Now I'm a whiner if I see even one skeeter.

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    2. Who is the author of Wild please?

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  8. Chiggers are the worst. Except maybe for ticks. Or fire ants. How could anyone consider for an instant replacing the meadowlark with the osprey/fish hawk as Oregon's state bird? Not anyone who's heard the meadowlark's joyous song, I'll wager.

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    1. I think it was sometime in the 1920s that there was a contest for state bird and the schoolchildren of Oregon got to pick. If there's a meadowlark in Portland proper, where most of our people are, I don't know of it. But that makes me love it more! Ospreys and herons and eagles are like pigeons around here.

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  9. "No sense going pioneer until we have to"
    egzackly
    and pack lots of bug spray when you do.

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  10. I live on the Kingston Prairie, and Meadowlarks nest here. Their song is wonderful, and they stand sentinel on the fence posts in spring. But they aren't interested in landing on me. They keep their distance.

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    1. Right. They're not at all promiscuous.

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  11. Where were you going, Upper Twin? Frog? I guess I'm of 'pioneer stock', at least that what the Register-Guard said about dad when he was planted in '74. And I should add that deer looks quite plump......
    Cheers, hope all is well. Henry said he's getting the hell out of Portland for the upcoming heat wave. What is going on when it's going to be well above 100 in early August in Portland??

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    1. I am sore afraid. I blame the fucking Republicans. Sorry for the language. The fucking conservatives.

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    2. Sorry, yes, didn't answer, it was upper Twin we were going for. Been there often and just never used the Barlow Trail. And I guess I still don't know if it goes there!

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  12. If I had your way with words.....that is exactly what I would have said. Tell it like it is, Murr!


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