Dear Neglected but Cherished Readers:
I have driven over 4,000 miles already just this month for work. I wonder what this does to the value of rental cars? I’ve become overly familiar with I-82 (the magical road that goes all over Washington and much of Oregon), the seemingly uninhabited expanses of much of Oregon, and both Snoqualmie and White Pass. It had been a long time since I’d been over White Pass, but I was definitely reminded why it is my favorite pass. It is so beautiful: There are rivers…. There are beautiful bushes….There’re a lot of windy roads… And then there’s me! Today, after Corvallis but before Richland, I needed to pull over and take a driving break. Lucky for me I was passing Multnomah Falls! In order to get to the falls you have to walk through a lovely tiled underpass next to a creek: While stretching my legs and picking a spot where I could feel the spray on my face, I took a little writing break. It’s all over the place, but I’ll share what I typed:
I would argue that the most soothing sound in the world is that of water falling from a great height and crashing or smashing, dripping or kerplopping, in general falling to earth. Add to that the feel of spray on your face and I can think of nothing happier. Water is such a renewing force–tortuously patient with power amplified by time. Destructive in short bursts, ultimately corrosive and also decisive through years. Nothing is so insidious, so constant in its change (and consequently power) as water.
All of my life I have felt most at home near naturally ocurring water, especially fresh water. I am currently sequestered in a nook of the path at Multnomah Falls where the cleansing spray is refreshing and inspiring me. Having forgotten pen and paper in the car I am jotting thoughts down on my ipod touch. I laugh at how I must appear to passers-by–a woman so wrapped up in technology that she cannot be parted from electronics long enough to savor the fearsome world of nature (albeit made accessible through humankind’s inexorable need for dominance). “Fearsome waterfall in mountainside–build a path with stairs around it–but not too close.” Or maybe not. Maybe I am too jaded.
Perhaps it is magic to be able to walk easily up a cliffside and see what is there, it is innovation.
Yes, the despicable and captivating tourism industry has securely planted roots here, but the awe I see on the faces of the travellors around me, young and old alike, in combination with droplets from the beast itself, distract me from any cynicism that threatens to dominate the mind of this college graduate.
Rather, the trail, like my use of the ipod to write, is evidence of humankind’s desire and ability to grow; a perfect combination of the natural and the fabricated. What would be the use of societal advances if they were to supersede the awesome wonders of the natural world? What would be the point if they could not be taken to the natural world?
The beauty lies in the harmony.
Now I will climb back into a car that will transport me far away, protected from the harsh side of nature. The same technology that has allowed me to take note of what I see will entertain me with an audiobook and lead the way to my destination with directions, while still retaining inspiration from the running water. As I drive away and the memories fade, people will continue to climb these stairs and feel the spray on their face–all made a little bit better by their pilgrimage to the falls.
As I said, a little scattered. But heartfelt.
Tonight I pumped my own gas in Oregon.
It was an accident.
I forgot I was in Oregon!
I got out of the car, got all set up (and was a little confused why the machine asked me to input how much I wanted to spend) and started the gas. Then an attendant walked over and said, a little leadingly, “You get that figured out?”
EMILIE: stares blankly at attendant before shrieking in sudden understanding OH! I’m in OREGON!
ATTENDANT: Yes, yes you are.
EMILIE: I am so sorry!
ATTENDANT: So…where are you from?
ATTENDANT: Oh. Ohhhhh.
EMILIE: Yeah….I’m really sorry.
BOTH stand awkwardly until gas finishes pumping and EMILIE moves to take the gas pump out. Then SHE withdraws, again awkward. ATTENDANT removes nozzle, closes gas tank, hands receipt to EMILIE.
ATTENDANT: Drive Safely.
EMILIE drives away slowly, embarrassed, and slightly miffed at her embarrassment. ATTENDANT returns to station, pulls out chalk, and draws another hash mark on the wall.
P.S. My parents and I had dinner and presents last night to celebrate my 22nd birthday which is this Thursday because they will be getting ready for their anniversary trip (congrats 30 years!) We were SO American…bad Chinese deli food at 8pm while in pajamas while watching the Food network along with apple pie.