.....thanks to all our strangely compelling contestants! *Distributes Rice-A-Roni*
Y'all cracked me up! I managed to log on down in Oregon and I got laughing so hard I made the baby cry! Of course that's something that happens frequently in my presence but this one time I can definitely attribute to extreme guffaws on my part.
Part UN of the vacation is complete, and now part DEAUX continues with the day trips and home improvement thing going on. I am home again home again jiggity jig, back from the Wild damn West and the sage brushes and the truck drivers and the sheeps and the wheat and whatnot, and the large vastness of the hugeness extending out in every direction all covered in not a whole fuck of a lot of anything with all buzzards circling high overhead.
Actually that is a lie; only about 1/3 of the entire trip consisted of picturesque bleak; the other 2/3 was picturesque agricultural vignettes, charming towns, winding lanes, quaint derelict barns and smokin' hot rurales with they ain't got they shirts on bucking bales and driving they tractors and shit be all standing up in the John Deere they got them sooWEEEET ass in the Levis read the date on a dime situation going on, honey pick that turkey laig up for gramma I dropped it on purpose you sick thang you.
The weather was PERFECT. All the little details were perfect too. We did the 'buy local' thing every time we stopped and never had a bad meal or a crappy nights' lodging. Even got to see part of a Jackie Chan action movie dubbed over in this very butch, deep Spanish voice, which cracked me up so bad I nearly swallowed my husbands dentures. (The fact that he does not wear dentures notwithstanding.) We shared driving and stopped to 'get lost' in interesting places and saw a lot of cool things. Coolest of all, the extraordinarily wet summer we've had here kept everything nearly June-green while the chilly nights caused the trees to turn color and cast leaves high up in the hills. That was new, and it took me days to figure out 'whats wrong with this picture.'
One of the weirdest things about southeastern Washington is that for some reason they have really aggressive food there. In Northeast, you'll pass a fruit stand or a farm produce outlet, or a small diner, and there'll be the usual average advertising sign out next to the road "Prey's Produce" or "Del's Diner" or what have you.
In Southeast, you come up over a rise and see words literally three storeys tall:
None of these places were open for business. In fact most of them looked to have lain derelict for some time, siding flapping in the breeze, glass broken out of the windows, tumbleweeds piled against the loading bays. It was interesting. We went past innumerable collections of the same... odd little Joad settlements with one house, several travel trailers in use as additions, some pens full of chicken huts and lots of old fucked up logging equipment surrounding one large, long building with empty vegetable displays with the words YAKIMA CHERRIES looming over it all. Or EAT NOW standing over a charred place in the dirt where some lone kid's riding around on a dirt bike kicking up soot.
The town of Yakima itself was oddly bleak and deserted. We'd planned to stay the night there and explore, never having been that far southeast on our travels. We spent the afternoon and drove all around. What we found was one small, gentrified shopping district about 5 blocks long, surrounded by a large zone of anonymous metal buildings housing various types of machine shops and dealerships....surrounded by an even larger zone of unrelieved Tijuana-SoCal ghettoass fucking slum. In all three cases a good ONE HALF of the real estate was abandoned. Empty. High up on the surrounding hills a few tacky mansions overlooked all this scenic wonder, right; but down in town it was just block after block after block of sleaze. Garbage blowing around. That in itself is just not....'Northwest', I guess you'd have to say; we're perfectly capable of being degraded, but we generally keep the damn streets picked up...except in Yakima, apparently. First time I've ever seen so many private residences tagged, too. That's another thing you don't see a lot of in the Northwest...they'll tag everydamnthing else on your property, but very seldom the house itself. Here, nearly everyfrickenplace we passed had been nailed. Cars, utility enclosures, light posts, garages, outbuilding. And the streets. And the sidewalks. Jesus Christ on a red bicycle, folks. We get it; you're here.
I still find all this bizarre. It's not like the land there is infertile or poorly watered; shit, we were passing marshes! In the high desert! It's not like it was super remote; Yakima is the interchange hub of all the major highways in the area. Power, check. Military base nearby (which ought to have provided for at least some skeeze-variety prosperity) check. Power, check...enormous wind farms, hydro crossing overhead....I simply have no explanation. Maybe a bank defaulted bigtime out that way?
Anyway, something told us that perhaps we would be better off moving along down the ol' highway. Lo and behold, about 35 miles on, over a low ridge of hills, the vista opens out over BEULAH LAND. Milk and honey. The most beautiful, smiling valley full of green farms and windrowed hay and wheat and grapes and orchards and livestock. Welcome to Ellensburg.
Up to this point all we had was a very, very bad memory of Ellensburg. The one time we'd visited in the past had been at 2am one dark morning, helping friends of ours move house. We all stopped in a cafe someplace ("Oh hey, a truck stop!" our friend assured us. "Truckers always know the best places!") and got food poisoning. In my case, the most heinous case of food poisoning I've ever had. Let the words 'Old Faithful' be your guiding image here. Not 20 minutes out from the parking lot, man, WHAMMO. It was NOT BEAUTIFUL.
Our original itinerary, then, drew a long detour around Ellensburg.
That would have been such a mistake. What a beautiful, beautiful little town this place is. And the whole valley there is carpeted in the most fat, prosperous, verdant collection of farms. Just gorgeous. It smells like apples and sage, cut hay and water as you drive through in the evening; Mexican food and barbecue and diesel and dust. We only stayed one day and one night, but we're going back next year and we are going to do it RIGHT.
Did I get pictures? Did I fuck, my darlings. What do I have pictures of?
The Arborist took us all to a Tractor pull-Monster Truck show out in Sublimity, a little farming community a few miles away from his place. I thought at first "I'll be a nice old broad and give Girl Getty and Spreidel an excuse to stay home. They'l probably be grateful for the excuse to avoid the crowds and noise...play the 'grandma's tired' card. Monster trucks: riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
Boy did I have my head up my ass. I had a total fucking blast!
This wasn't the usual arena, giant crowd - screaming clusterfuck you see on televised events; this was a small, well-ordered show in an outdoor venue, gorgeous weather, gorgeous small fairgrounds, nice friendly people running around chewing tobacco (one beautiful young girl had a can riding atop each tit and a quid in!) and drinking bottled water. Later in the evening the beer concession got popular and there were a few rowdy fuckers, but not obnoxious rowdy, fun rowdy. I even got hit by a couple of high school boys while I was taking my granddaughter (the Princess) to the Port-o-let. Lots of old couples holding hands, lots of clean, polite children running around laughing, lotta farmboys and logger dudes, lotta good ol' girls smoking Camel cigarettes and saying 'shitfire, bitch!" The fireworks show at the end exploded to the tune of that CW song 'God Bless the USA' and Ray Charles singing 'America The Beautiful'.
A tractor pull, for those of you too hifalutin to indulge in canaille things like rural sport, is not necessarily about actual farm type tractors. It's about the pulling, mainly (with a minor in 'blowing up drivelines'.) The tow vehicles were everything from old Studebaker pickup trucks to brand new Expeditions to an actual Allis-Chalmers tractor- albeit an Allis with THREE GODDAMN ENGINES. What they pull is a special sled with a movable weight on a ramp atop it. The faster and further the pulling vehicle goes, the further up the ramp the weight moves and the more difficult the whole sled gets to pull. The object is for the vehicle to pull this sled down a straight, measured dirt course within a certain time limit, staying inside a designated lane. Fastest and furthest wins. Sounds fairly straightforward, but it ain't. This is all about torque: knowing what you brung and not letting your foot get too heavy. If you stomp down on the throttle right off the line you bury the vehicle and sometimes shit bursts and flies off the undercarriage or comes blasting out sideways from the engine compartment, which is not necessarily a drawback the way I see it, but it seems to piss off the drivers. The poor guy driving the sled eats a lot of dirt and exhaust, pieces of track fly up, dust roostertails everywhere and engines scream up past the point that you'd think something would explode, and then get LOUDER. At the end a timer announces the score and a tractor speeds around towing a frame that grooms the dirt for the next run and everyone claps.
The monster truck exhibition kicked ass. You didn't see the kind of wild air and rollover stunts you see on television, but that was more than made up for by being THERE. They towed five wrecks out into the middle of the track and then the entries all stunted over them and did wheelies and travels and who knows what all kinda shit, kicking up a lot of dirt and making some damn NOISE. You really get no idea of the size of these things until one's going right past you and you have to look up to see the tiny, tiny little driver riding atop this column of machinery. And the sons of bitches are quick, too. Really quick. For some reason I'd thought of them as being fairly lumbering sorts of vehicles but I wuz rong. They took wild bounces and nearly turned over, stabilizers bent, tires ruptured, the differentials geysered sparks, steam shot out from random places and engines threw rods, blueass nitrous flames all been shooting out the top of the block; sheeeeit. It was cooler than fuck!
We sat three rows from the front. Little Spreidel watched most of it, then slept through the rest. Passed out.
And then the next day, we went to a roadster show. I mean please. Please. It's going to be a couple of months before I get all the homegirl flushed out of my system here. Even putting aside the fact that it was in a botanical garden in full incredible bloom aside, it was so, so fun. We go to a lot of these anyway, the Biker and I, but its great to see so many new vehicles-at least, new to us- and in such a great venue. There were also a lot more later model muscle cars than you usually run into up here in Washington, which I like to see. Model T's...meh. Fine. Wow. Dime a dozen. But you get into the late 60's stuff and now you're talking! That's what I remember wanting when I was a kid....remember that GTO that came stock with hood tiedowns? The Mercury Cougar with the hidden headlights? Oh my yes. And all the while I managed not to gank one single cutting or seedhead. This is the second time this has happened in this spot. I don't know whether or not to be proud or not. They have some good shit.
Then we all went home and fell asleep in a big pile on the couch.
And that's what I did on my summer vacation! (So far.)
More pix: (lovingly ganked from my daughter in law, because I take shitty pictures as a general rule.)