Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Sunday, we went for a jaunt in our old Toyota pickup. We never got further than 10 miles away but the views were soul-satisfyin'.

Taking our battered county map, we headed up Knight Road to Cedar Valley Road, passing a lot of places on both the left and right. One reminded us so much of a log cabin we'd built back in about 1976, up in northern Idaho. We just cut some trees down in the middle of a lodgepole stand to clear a spot for a cabin, dug some holes to put butt-cuts from the largest pines we could find in to create our foundation, then started cutting down nice, straight pines that were right close to the site and hauled them against our hips, strong, tan arms hanging down for gloved hands to grip the logs tightly, my husband on one end of the log and I on the other. We erected a 12x16 foot cabin that way and lived in it for 3 years.

But on Sunday, we continued on to where the road turned to gravel and the name changed to Monument Road. We just kept following that, revelling in the higher ground, undeterred by the rocky road which demanded we crawl forward in first gear. My husband kept asking me if my neck was going to be okay and I kept saying yes, even though I knew I'd be paying for it in days to come, but to me, the price was fair and I was willing to pay it.

We kept searching for an old monument placed up here by the Washington Historical Society back in 1909 to mark the spot a man was murdered by a band of Indians, but we never found it.

At the top, we were stopped by a gate leading onto Yakima Indian Reservation land, so we turned around and then went up a different, less traveled spur off the main "road." At the end, an old and decrepit cabin wobbly stood, and nearby, an old barn with just one shed-style roof (no center beam with roof to either side). The slant to barn roof was ridiculously steep and spoke to the amount of snow possible up here in this old cowcamp.

We parked and walked around a bit, the cabin long ago uninhabitable and filled with junk and trash from past hunters' usage.

Fat and slick cows stood around, for here was an excellent spring, perhaps the best spring we've ever seen. It had been developed to where the water was piped down into some corrals and then arose from the ground vertically, coming up through the centers of two, very big equipment tires, the bottoms concreted to hold water. The water bubbled up with a lot of strength, creating a nice fountain which keeps the troughs clear of debris and algae. As the water overflowed the tire troughs, it poured downhill into a man-deepened area which is called a tanque in the Southwest and perhaps a stock pond here. As that water flowed over, it entered another stock pond and then rushed on downhill as a creek.

The heady smell of cow filled the air, one that brought back that rush of a sense of space, not particular memories, for a lifetime filled with cow-smell is too large to surface as one memory of a distinct time branding or calving. Instead, it just evokes a sense of identity, a way of life that we'd both known for so long and we both so miss, though we never speak of it that way.

Far off, once my eyes have soaked up enough of the scene in the immediate foreground, I finally notice layers of hills, layers of colors that range from deep purples to hazy blues, all rising up eventually to a far-off Mt. Hood, snow shining in the distance, in the next state.

We poke around looking at old pieces of cast-iron cookstove and corrugated tin roofing, then walk slowly back to the truck and as we get back in, I say reverently to Pete, "Don't you wish you could ride here on Dunnie?" And he wistfully replies, "Yeah." And we back out and start the bumpy ride back downhill.

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