what in sam hill?

I’m enjoying my breakfast of toast and tea at a Brooks State Park in midsouthern Washington state. This is a really nice place to camp, and seems out-of-the-way enough to not be crowded.

My body seems to be falling apart. At the end of the first day, my back hurt, and I walked around like a stooped old guy, looking for asprin. By the end of the day yesterday, my gas pedal knee was stiff and painful. And last night, just as my back started to recover, I started getting a sore throat. I imagine this is my superego, telling me that I’m bad for forsaking my work. “Look, you take time off and now you’re suffering,” it says, “Get back to work!”

Nope. I am going to see this through. Fuck the subconcious. What does it know?

Last night the only other car here was a EuroVan in the spot next to mine. We talked. The owners are retired schoolteachers from Hawaii. (I guess everyone in Hawaii knows everyone else. These two knew my friend Brian and his family.) They are retiring to Portland, and bought a EuroVan to live in while they look for a house. This is the first time I’ve compared a Euro to my Vanagon… The EuroVan is really nice! Because the engine is out front, the Van has lots of storage under the bed. Also, the van is 4 1/2″ wider, and they’ve added all of that space to the cabinets. The fridge is dorm-sized. Rather than the bins in the Vanagon, the Euro has floor-to-ceiling shelves where the left-rear window is on the Vanagon. Very nice.

Yesterday I drove through Oregon. North and south central Oregon are two very different places. The southern part of route 97 was wooded and mountainous. Northern 97 passed through high desert country, rolling hills and scrub.

The Columbia river is an interesting place. It’s been massively dammed (damned?), flooding native fishing grounds and churning the water with silt. The natives in the area still fish from platforms over the river, but they no longer use spears. You can’t see the fish in the muddy waters. Now they use hoop nets, dropped into the water from the platforms.

There is definitely an ‘us vs. them’ tension. The natives are trying to retain their treaty fishing rights, while non-indian fisherman complain about the unfareness of netting. An American flag flew upside down from a fishing platform. (Flying a flag upside down is an international sign of distress, and has been adopted by the American Indian movement.) Grafitti reads ‘Fuck Amerikkka!’ and ‘How the tides have turned.’

Despite this, the few natives I stopped to speak to were really nice. These aren’t folks making a fortune off of fishing. Several families were living in shacks along the river or in their cars.

A little later I stopped by Maryhill, a mansion & museum built above the Columbia by Sam Hill. Sam Hill was a quaker, and around the turn of the century he tried to build a utopian community of farmers along the river. He named the community after his daughter Mary. Unfortunately, he was seen as more of an eccentric than a visionary, and the then-remote community failed.

Sam Hill also constructed a replica of Stonehenge as a tribute to the men of Klickitat county who had died in world war I. (It was the first such monument in the country.) Hill was a pacifist. He’d heard that Stonehenge in England was a place of pagan sacrifice, and built his Stonehenge to remind people that “humanity is still being sacrificed to the god of war.”

Next stop, Roslyn, home of the insanely great show Northern Exposure.



What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.