Sunday, June 14, 2009

East Idaho Rain

While my wife was taking sunset photos of Haystack Rock and I was playing in the sand with our youngest, a fellow carrying an enormous camera ambled by. "Can you believe this weather?" he asked, remarking on the absence of rain. "Hard to believe we're on the Oregon Coast." I felt the same way, though not necessarily for the same reason. I came fully expecting we'd get rained on. I had decided before we left that I was not going to let the rain bother me. I am glad, however, that the worst of the rain came as we were driving through the Blue Mountains at night. We also got a little rain on the way out.

Now I know where the rain went: home. Nothing but rain for the past two weeks, with flaw flood warnings on the night we came home. And that's okay. Garden is flourishing, as are the dianthus in the front yard and the irises in the back. Raspberries are also greening nicely. We don't have the copious foliage of the coast, but it's sure rich and verdant this week. Even the roadside clutter is green. I'm actually excited to head to work tomorrow so I can see what all the rain has done for the desert greenery.

The drive home was fascinating. Along the Columbia, it's fun to watch how the scenery changes. It's still green and leafy close to the coast, but as we travelled inland the trees changed, from the leaf-bearing trees and Sitka spruce to the thinner, more diminutive Douglas and Lodgepole pines. Forests gave way to scrub in bare hills, as if the Earth were suddenly stricken with mange or baldness. The height of the hills on the coast is illusory, as the trees made up a fair part of it. The bald mountains of the interior looked so much taller. So, too, did the geology. There's so much botany on the coast it's easy to forget there are rocks and dirt underneath it all. On the Columbia it's easy to see the underlying layers of rock, twisted and melted by volcanoes, carved by water, and tilted by tectonic action.

We had such a relaxing time, even with all the driving. We got lost in Portland a few times and reveled in driving through downtown's tunnels of brick, glass and living wood as we found our way back to the freeway. We dragged our kids the mile up to the top of Multnomah Falls and watched them grow through the whines. (They weren't the only ones whining. I got quite a sweaty workout climbing that steep trail, and regretted not a few times our decision to climb.) My wife lost her cell phone there, we had to renege in our promise to buy ice cream because it cost $3 a cone, but we'd go back. What fun. The rangers are mailing the phone to us, and we got the kids ice cream in Pendleton, which is not the hog butcher to Eastern Oregon we envisioned when we saw it on the map. And we almost ran out of gas but made it to Arlington, where I made an ass of myself by having to do a redneck turn down a freeway onramp because I took the wrong one. Oops.

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