It’s been such a long time since I’ve written, hasn’t it? Since my last post, I tried a few times but gave up, sometimes in frustration but mostly with apathy because I’m kiiinda tired of hearing my own voice asserting the same weary old opinions. While I love who I’m becoming, I’m bored with myself on paper.
But let’s take another stab at it.
Question the One: Do zombies exist? My brother is convinced they do, or have the potential to. He told me that if I ever hurt my leg, for example, and moan in pain and lurch toward him for help, he will bash me in the head with whatever he’s holding without a moment’s hesitation. I wonder what he thinks of the naked crazed man’s attack on the homeless guy’s face in Florida? Then I read about a Maryland student whose family found the head and hands of his housemate in the trash bin. It’s a hard world we live in. It’s time to renegotiate the terms or, I’m telling you, I’m not coming back next time. I’m going to another, kinder planet. Perelandra, maybe.
Thankfully, however, there are really amazing moments in this hard life as well. Like the daylong one I had Tuesday on a motorcycle ride with Scott. We got an early start and rode up Hwy 14 on the WA side of the Columbia River. I had never been a huge fan of Washington because I had subconsciously subscribed to the rather Hatfield and McCoyish antipathy that’s always existed between our two states. It’s ridiculous and I no longer feel that way. But it’s not just Washingtonians that Oregonians have a hard time with. Thirty-five years ago (OMG), when my family moved here from California, we were seeing bumper stickers on cars that read, “Welcome to Oregon. Now Go Home.” People have relented a bit since then but Oregonians can still be pretty territorial; in fact, I’m just remembering now that when my mom and I were out somewhere, I mentioned to a stranger we were conversing with that we were originally from California. She said, half-jokingly, “Oh. You’re one of those.” Really? After 35 years? Geez. There’s a lot of pretty here to protect, I guess. But I digress.
Every time we ride I think, “WHY didn’t we bring a camera?” because we encounter the most beautiful sights along the way. It’s my dream to one day own a high-shutter-speed camera that I can hang on a strap around my neck to snap pics as we go because it would be really fun to keep a travel blog/log so other people can enjoy our trip as well. One of the highlights of this particular ride went something like this, at a lonely gas station in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Murdock:
Me to clerk: “Do you have any other lip balm than this?” I point to a plastic jar filled with loose assorted Chapsticks.
Clerk: “We have these up here.” She reaches behind her to rattle a packaged Cherry Chapstick and a packaged Original Chapstick.
“Mm, I guess I’ll just look through these.” I pick one out, possibly papaya-flavored, and put it on the counter. As I do, I say, “It gets kind of dry on a motorcycle.”
[Note: Conversations are funny. We talk in ways that often make very little sense on paper because that’s just what we do. It’s kind of like shorthand out loud.]
For some reason, this last comment makes her decide to accept me into the inner circle. Her face softens. “Where you headed?”
“Oh, we’re just kind of slowly making our way up 14.”
She stares silently at me for a few beats. This takes me a little aback and I look around and ask, “We’re still on 14, right?,” thinking that maybe we’d veered off into foreign parts without noticing. Maybe even Idaho. Anything can happen when you’re not paying attention and this woman thinks I’m an idiot.
But she nods, yes we’re still on 14, then her eyes widen and she takes a deep breath. She has made a decision. She leans in conspiratorially and asks, in a low voice, “Have you ever heard of Schreiner’s Farms?” I shake my head. “Oh, you gotta go to Schreiner’s Farms. It’s a zoo. It’s right up the road, to the left, you drive through it, and there are zebras and buffalo and camels and antelope and giraffes. They even have those things that are like kangaroos, only they’re called walla…walla…not wallaby…”
“That’s it. And it’s free!”
Well, FREE. Even if giraffes hadn’t been mentioned, that would have clinched it. When I indicate my interest, she gives me clearer directions, and one of the customers chimes in. “You’ll see the big gates!” he says happily. Excellent. I pay for my $.99 Chapstick and go outside to tell Scott. While we’re getting on the bike another man walks by and strikes up a conversation with us. The happy customer with the ‘big gates’ information gets into his car and nods and grins and seems to wait until we drive off, so he can follow us to make sure we turn at the right place. I tap Scott on the shoulder and say, “My word, people here are friendly,” and then it occurs to me that maybe they’re a mite TOO friendly. Friendly as in, let’s send the two strangers to “Schreiner’s Farms” to be the yearly sacrifice to the crop gods. Thank you, Stephen King, for informing my beliefs in so many ways. Not that that stopped us from going.
It was so awesome! Right out there in the middle of absolute nowhere was a 12,000 acre wildlife preserve and we saw everything but the wallaroos they’re famous for, only because we forgot to look for them. The giraffes were at the very end of the road and when we drove over to the fence and stopped (visitors are required to stay in their vehicles, but we were on a motorcycle, which is almost as good as being on your feet) the baby giraffe noticed us from across the field and came loping over. Seeing it move so deliberately toward us like that, with its big melty brown eyes fixed directly on ours, took my breath away; it was kind of overwhelming! It stood at the fence and gazed our way for a moment, probably wondering why we weren’t jumping off the bike to feed it, then nonchalantly began pulling and eating leaves off of the nearby trees. Giraffes are very friendly–and apparently hungry–people.
Refreshed after our touch with the wild side, we continued up 14 until we came to a sign that read, I’m not even kidding, “STONEHENGE.” Now we’re really not in Kansas anymore, right? Washington’s Stonehenge is a war memorial that was built in 1918 by Sam Hill–of “What in the Sam Hill?” fame–to honor fifteen Klickitat locals who had died in WWI. It was intended to resemble the original, only intact and not nearly as big, nor (obviously) made of the famous Preseli Bluestone. In fact, it’s made of concrete. To be honest I wasn’t exceedingly impressed, but the setting on the bluff overlooking the Columbia was spectacular and I’m glad we went.
By this time it was after 3:30 and we still had a long ride ahead of us, so we backtracked and crossed the Bridge of the Gods to go home Oregon way. It was one of the best rides we’ve ever had.
And nary a zombie in sight.
Love to all! xo