On this, the 400th anniversary of the passing of the world's greatest bard, I thought it was only fitting to say hello to all of my faithful readers! You've perhaps noticed that this is the first e-mail like this in about half of a year. Well, as some of you already know, I'm busy finishing that English degree that I began in 1987 at Seattle Pacific University. I'm happier than a clam on a beach to be attending Marylhurst University in Portland now. While I've temporarily suspended "book promotion" efforts while in classes, I did want to wish you all well and draw your attention to several pieces you might enjoy.
I know that writing about places and trips is looked down upon by some of my writing friends; it's not intellectual enough, you know. I beg to disagree. As a fellow who grew up in Eastern Washington and has lived in Seattle, Whidbey Island, Bellingham, Dallas (TX & OR), Lawrence, KS, Redding, CA, and now Oregon's beautiful Willamette Valley (since 1996), I am fascinated when discovering new and unique places. (If you've read my last novel, you can probably tell how critical a solid sense of place is to me.) The Wallowas are a particularly strong case in point. I'll never forget the first time I visited northeast Oregon; I was totally unprepared by the majesty I discovered. I hope I am successful in conveying a little sense of that wonder in this recently published article from Travel Oregon. As an added "bonus," I am including a couple paragraphs immediately below that we decided not to include in the published article. It might just bring a smile...
Of course, if you annoy the locals, you may find yourself taking the longest "short cut" you can imagine. One local confided that a sweet old lady she knew had finally lost patience with an out-of-towner bearing a laundry list of complaints: the mountains weren't that special, the weather was too hot, there were no stores in which she cared to stop, etc. Having finally had enough, the old woman carefully gave the complaining visitor detailed instructions to Hwy 3 out of Enterprise to Lewiston/Clarkston. She explained that this route might offer her exactly what she was seeking. Now, as someone who accidentally took this frightening little stretch of asphalt (again, thanks go to Google Maps) back in 2007, I can understand the humor here. Still, I have to say I feel a little sorry for the complainer, too.
Imagine a narrow road weaving steeply towards the hilltops, and you have some inkling of the drive. There was beauty, too, of course: wild deer and a huge owl to name a couple examples. As I recall, when the road began to feel more like a paved walking trail, I remember my wife asking me to drive slower and slower until we were inching along at less than 20 mph. When I expressed concern about traffic, she insightfully pointed out that no one else was stupid enough to take that particular road. Enough said.