The ground we covered like Caesar's Gaul, only entirely different, was divided into three parts.
In our case, firstly by freeway from Portland flat and straight south to Eugene, through the Willamette Valley, one of the most fertile places in the world. Lee had described it well for us in Portland. I need not seek to quote him accurately, the story is there also in Wikipedia:
A massively productive agricultural area, the valley was widely publicized from the 1820s as a 'promised land of flowing milk and honey'. It became the destination of choice for the oxen-drawn wagon trains of emigrants who made the perilous journey along the Oregon Trail in the 1840s–1880s...Much of the Willamette’s fertility is derived from a series of massive ice-age floods that came from Lake Missoula in Montana and scoured across Eastern Washington, sweeping its topsoil down the Columbia River Gorge. When floodwaters met log-and-ice jams at Kalama in southwest Washington, the water caused a backup that filled the entire Willamette Valley to a depth of 300 to 400 feet (91 to 122 m) above current sea level.
As Chairman Mao did not say, a journey of a thousand miles must begin with one... leap onto the freeway, or so is the case in America. Portland, city of bridges.
and it is advantageous to have three drivers
Leaving me free to take a few photos of the cultivable landscape from the back seat
|Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba Benth.) is a low growing herbaceous winter annual that is adapted to poorly drained soils. Limnanthes means marshflower and the common name "Meadowfoam" arose due to the appearance, at full bloom, of its solid canopy of creamy white flowers. Meadowfoam is native to northern California, southern Oregon, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The oil from meadowfoam seed has unique chemical properties that make it one of the most stable vegetable oils known.|
with such little effort on the freeway one arrives in handsome Eugene, which is something of a university town, also a town with significant counter-culture history. My mentor on the broad spectrum of health issues Ray Peat is somewhere there, though we did not have the audacity or the time to seek him out.
There is a gentility about the downtown.
I continue in the 'back seat' with the camera. The clock says it's 18.2 celsius, shirt sleeves today. No wind. The clock also says it's lunchtime.
You would think that a quality lunch at Sushiya would be sufficient...
but back there on the next corner we had to get past Voodoo Donuts to reach the car.
We did not get past. Well I managed to skip the white-haired queue for the Avatar
but I did succumb to that choc colour, pretzel staked, raspberry jelly stuffed Mr Voodoo.
|If you'd seen what the ingredients were in some of those other items|
you'd understand my abstemious nature in selecting the dark, be-staked, runny-red-inside gentleman in the foreground.
Liz says you can have a wedding in a Voodoo donut shop for $200 up (plus consumables). I think, no, Helen is praying we will leave the premises soon.
Outside we passed by the Ken Kesey statue in Kesey Square, as described in the right column and as pictured also here.
I now get to something you will have to visualise as I was sufficiently stunned to forget to take a picture. We had been parked in, six inches behind the Mammoth Maxima, a foot in front. It's moments like this you need a Seattle woman with you. Liz could see that the car in front was a Car2Go, that it was thus of course a smart car and that (of course, again) it occupied only a modest part of the parking space it was sitting in. So she got her Cars2Go card, swiped the window device, jumped in, added her pin number, drove forward three feet for a price of one dollar and came back to our car. She had preceded this little show of clever by saying "Would you like me to move the Smart Car?" I had of course been most impressed by her fitness arising from gym and roller derby and had simply said "Yes please," and waited to be impressed or to up the ante. My ante posted to Alaska by clever.
Thus we were able to proceed to
PART 2: The Eugene-Florence Highway.
We went due west from Eugene, to Florence on the coast. We left the racing straightness of freeway for winding two lane highway reminiscent of home in the Shoalhaven and Illawarra, also a drift away from the affluent modernity of Seattle, Portland and Eugene into a poorer and more 'whitebread' world of conventional life.
In the building housing the not-open-after-noon-this-is-a-very-small-town post office in Walton Oregon I asked the gentleman with the old wares and knives if I could have a bird poster like the one in his window. I'm sorry he said, that's the only one I have... and so saying took my camera and took this photo for me.
He had only been in the town since last November, having come from Brooklyn where born and raised to be in a house which had been home to other family members now gone to Florida. "It's very whitebread here," he said, "the bread where I came from is so very much everything but whitebread." We were actually quite taken by a cloisonne piece, a jewelry container or such, with lid, about seven inches by four inches by three inches, and though it seemed absurd to be looking at cloisonne on our way to Mexico I asked how much and he said "Oh its $40 but as you'd know it's not much good it's made in China." Two things missing: [a] the cloisonne from the bottom of this photo and [b] the cloisonne from our baggage. And though Helen and I today next day had a fresh hanker over coffee—the sort of a terrible discovery you get that we each had been at 0.46 hanker... we are not going that far back.
He said he made a fairly decent living from his cabinet of hunting knives. "You've gotta have the jewellery" he said. I said I did not think these good items to have in any part of our baggage travelling through airports in the US, Mexico and Australia. But he clearly knew I had no intention of buying.
I sort of had the notion of whitebread from what he said, including the risks daily of violence in New York and the force of racial prejudice. He was not suggesting this was a while place, that was a place of colour. He seemed a very decent person. I have found an excellent definition of 'whitebread' in the Urban Dictionary, from which you get an urban gist which is a bit different still from life in Walton, but you'll get the point.
Um, I was going to tell you about the Eugene-Florence highway.
A few pictures perhaps worth lots, enough words for part 2...
PART 3 IS THE 200 MILES DOWN THE COAST FROM FLORENCE TO TRINIDAD
The towns are for the most part modest, incomes surely more modest, many retired or less wealthy folk, lives in margin of the sea with tides of tourist time and warning signs for tsunami vulnerable places.
|lots of ATV rental places, in each town, dune hoonery in the making|
And then the wonder drive began: an almost obscene Americanism—like the sidewalk signs "Have you tried our hickory-smoked-caramel-chocolate-bacon-brugers"—unable to make do with simply large trees and a few rocks in the water, came this succession of bigger trees replacing bigger trees and a modicum of rocks in the water being replaced by an immodestem of rocks in the water. Thundering on into the end of day.
Here then it is, the super-duper, sea-mist-rocks-road-forest-frenzy with fries. America indeed the beautiful. We arrived at Trinidad as light fell. To a lovely place in the woods, which is another story...