Friday, August 24, 2012

Galumphing down to Utah

So yesterday morning I smooched Captain Midnight, threw my stuff into the car and drove solo through many miles of the American Northwest and Intermountain West.  It was a full day of driving and from my observations, I can make one definitive statement: man, it's smoky out there.

I didn't take a lot of pictures because I was driving and it seemed like a bad idea, but I did stop once or twice.

I stopped in the town of Pendleton, Oregon (aka "the real west!"), home of the Pendleton Round-Up...

...and also of this place that makes wool blankets and stuff.  You might have heard of it.

I also stopped in Baker City, home to an unexpected windmill.

Around 4:00 p.m. I stopped at a buffet-style restaurant for an early dinner.  I had not counted on the scores of retirees who pretty much own the place at that hour.  Nonetheless I managed to find an empty spot, sat down and began quietly eating my salad and mulling over the remaining trip mileage and so forth.  By nature I'm introverted -- not necessarily shy, but unsure of myself around people I don't know -- so I was glad to find a spot to sit alone and regroup.

That didn't last long.  An octogenarian gentleman shuffled over to sit nearby and promptly began hitting on me.  "A pretty lady like you sitting all by yourself... are you lonesome?"  I never know what to say in such situations (several options now come to mind:  "No.  Are you?"  "Aww, you remind me so much of my grandpa."  "I'm never lonesome... because I TRAVEL with my IMAGinary FRIENDS!") so I made a little polite conversation and withdrew.  I mean, seriously, dude?  I realize you're probably lonesome yourself and I feel for you and all, but I could easily be your granddaughter!  Ugh. So I finished dinner and fled Geritol Central to continue on my merry way.

There was one image I wish I'd had the presence of mind to photograph, but it went by too fast.  Right around Glenns Ferry, Idaho, I was looking ahead along the road -- and there, crossing a freeway overpass in front of me, was a whole herd of black cattle, with a 4x4 driving in front and a couple of cowboys on horses bringing up the rear.  I've seen cattle being driven before, but never over the top of a freeway.

One of the few advantages of large swaths of the West being on fire... spectacular sunsets.  I noticed one in my rearview mirror and decided it was time to pull over.

This burning pink sunset was taken from an overpass along I-84 in Idaho.  I wanted to take more pictures, but about that time the mosquitoes found me.  As they do.  Always.  I'm not kidding; skeeters flock from three counties away to bite me.  It must be the diabetes that gives my blood that certain extra piquancy the little vampires crave.  So clouds of them descended on me, buzzing with glee, and I fled for my life.  I only just made it into the car and slammed the door shut behind me before they were able to drain me dry.  The local news headline "Mummified Husk Found on Freeway Overpass" will have to wait for another day.

The light began to fade, the moon passed across the sky, and still on I drove, humming happily as I splatted swarms of skeeters with the hood of my car.  (That'll larn 'em!)  I can tell I'm a night owl, because the only time of day when I was in any danger of nodding off was, oh, around 11 a.m., noon.  By nightfall I was ready to go for hours.  Which was good, because I finally reached my mom's house just before midnight local time.

By the way, if you don't believe me about most of the Western U.S. being on fire?

Proof.  Taken today from the mouth of Rock Canyon, near where my mom lives.  If you look at the largest version of this photo you can actually see the flames going up Squaw Peak.  We don't yet know how the fire started, but I can hear emergency vehicles driving by and helicopters passing overhead as I type this.

The Provo LDS Temple is in the same neighborhood.

I thought the two images made for a rather odd juxtaposition.

More later, assuming we don't all get burned to a crisp!


Scarehaircare said...

You didn't STOP?!!

Soozcat said...

No, I drove it all in one hop. I knew you were working feverishly on your thesis at the time. But I will come again and see you, probably bearing delectable chocolate nomness.