Sunday, August 19, 2018


notes from an eastern Oregon road trip - part 4 of 4

Over a period of eight or ten days, I'd spent many hours on Enrico, the Yamaha, touring much of Northern California and Eastern Oregon. Sadly, with the exception of a couple of hours ringing the summit at Crater Lake, most of the ride had been completed under hazy skies and, in some places thick, settling, eyeball-irritating smoke. Stands of dead timber cover acres and acres of California and Oregon forest lands. Homes and cabins that once were, are no longer.

Clearly, Mother Nature is displeased with us. And not without cause, I would guess. Our clever industriousness over a little more than a century has brought many conveniences – fossil-fuel-guzzling automobile travel, coal-fired electric energy, and honey-bee-eradicating mega-farm food production. Many of those things we now depend upon and once thought were relatively cheap come at a cost: a delayed one. 

The bill is coming due. 

On a haze-shrouded Thursday, after stopping for lunch at the Squeeze In in John Day, Oregon, I drenched my cooling vest in a creek out behind the café and slipped it on under my vented riding jacket. At speed, this garment will act like a swamp cooler making the smoky mid-day 98-degree heat much more tolerable. I mounted up and headed down US 395 toward my night-stop in Burns.

Climbing out of a canyon and onto the prairied tablelands around Seneca it turns out I may not have needed that trip to the creek. The sky suddenly turned dark and the temperature dropped about fifteen degrees. Clouds had gathered over this high desert: clouds eager to relieve their burden. Soon my riding suit was being peppered with marble-sized raindrops that flattened the sage and grain fields on either side of my route. In those moments, as the raindrops danced across the pavement in front of me, the air bloomed with a fragrance the folks at Chanel of Paris can only dream about. Sweet. Thick. Pure. Refreshing. Reassuring.

A gift, perhaps?

Twenty minutes of riding through the cloudburst and the cleansing it carried convinced me that while Mother Nature may be angry at us, she still loves us a lot.

That's how mothers are.
© 2018
Church of the Open Road Press

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