Arts/Literature

Off the Snake River

In the summer of 2009 I went out to visit my brother, who was a student at Washington State University in Pullman.  We spent a week driving around Washington, Oregon and Idaho hiking and wandering. One night after a hike he took me down to the Snake River for a look around. We hung out on the banks for a bit and then decided to drive back to Pullman following the river. My brother hates going back the same way he came, regardless of whether he is on foot or in a vehicle, so he was going to go an alternate route back. After a bit of driving around, he realized he was lost and ducked on to the road pictured above to turn around. I wanted to go down it but he was sort of doubtful so I begged him to let me at least get out and take a picture.

I got out in bare feet and ran up the gravel to the sign and he started to turn around. Next thing I knew, I heard his wheels skid in the gravel, and he pulled up next to me and said, “Screw it. Get in, we’ll do it.” It was the craziest damn road I have ever been down, and there were times I totally thought we were going to die. There were these beat up old ranches/farms, all kinds of equipment from modern-ish to carts that would have been pulled behind horses. There were a few places where it looked like the people had just given up on the house and moved further up the lot and built a new shack and let the old one decay with the old trucks and farm tools next to it. The nerve-wracking part was when we would see a cloud of dust moving down the road ahead, which meant that there was a truck overloaded with wheat heading our way, and since it was one way we had to get the hell off the road, but most times we were up against canyon wall with nowhere to go. We would have the jeep wedged in some ridiculous spot and a farmer would go barreling by, smiling and waving.

We came off the road and then promptly got lost. I was taking pictures of any sort of landmark and every street sign we passed so that we could be sure that we weren’t going in circles. The wheat harvest was going on so it was all hazy and weird smelling and there were tractors and combines and the like in the fields at all hours. We eventually found our way back but it was another night of just the most insane light I have seen, all the detritus from the harvest in the air made everything weird and hazy. Totally wild, beautiful light.

3 replies »

  1. At least there’s a warning sign warning you that there aren’t any warning signs, I guess.

    Nice shot, and very different from yesterday’s. As different as they are, you seem to have a gift for capturing quiet and tranquility. Very welcome these days….

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