Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mile-High Oregon Sunrise

I’m back from the wilds of Sonoma County, & other than being a trifle road-weary, am none the worse for the wear. Had a wonderful time—lots of good eats, some music, thrift-store shopping, a bunch of catching up with old pals. I’ll be posting one or two stories about the trip within the next couple of days—hope to get something more substantial onto the blog either later today or early tomorrow morning.

In the meantime: I got on the road very early last Friday morning, & was somewhere around 220 miles from home at daybreak—pulled out of Indian Valley under overcast skies—NPR evaporated at some point as I was making the long, steep climb out of Idaho into the high Owyhee desert in Oregon—the fog was a thick veil when I came out on top—hit Jordan Valley, OR in the dark: the JV diner wasn’t open yet—probably the only time I’ve made a trip to California without stopping there—headed south into a clear, starry sky & nothing but white reflectors, & a few semi’s, & some ghostly sagebrush in the headlights—U.S. 95 in Oregon is the wide open spaces—every so many miles the sodium light from an isolated ranch—you know there are cattle & coyotes & crows & deer & antelope out there in that dark rangeland, but you don’t see anything—constellations & a broken yellow line—U.S. 95 is the road Eberle & I take everywhere, so somehow it connects us to everyone, & I think about that as I try to keep the speed down on those long lonely straightaways—the distance between the stars—the constellations—& then I’m headed down the long descent to Rome, OR, which is one diner & a couple of ranches, & I think of a January night over ten years ago Dani was driving her van up that winding climb between the red rock cliffs, & I was moving to Idaho to be with Eberle—Dani & I driving under a buffalo nickel moon & stars strewn every which way, & singing along to a tape: “Spanish is the Loving Tongue.” But this early & dark morning the fog’s settled in on room & I drive south with no sound except my thoughts & the swoosh of air moving past the car as it travels south, & the fog is a veil & the stars are gone—then 20 miles down the road I start to see the cattle emerge, already moving & grazing the sagebrush & dry grass, grey in the first light—& the Owyhee crows I’ve always wanted to write a song about swooping & bobbing in a sky that’s washed out except for a smeared line across the eastern horizon—not sky-blue-pink, but almost copper—& I drive on & the light spreads westward, & a few miles north of the height of land sign at Blue Mountain Pass, I pull off into an Oregon Department of Transportation turn-out & snap the pic you see above—California’s still another world, another world where my friends are mostly dreaming just then, & the wind’s whipping dust & chill across the rangeland—& there’s still the tumbleweed treeless expanse of Nevada where I’m a stranger amongst strangers waiting all morning long….

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