Hello everyone! I'm a day late in posting this because I've been busy.... I set up shop at the AOK (used to be a KOA but apparently they broke off...) in Coeur D'Elaine, Idaho next to a spiffy shallow non-moving lake and prepared for the imminent attack. Amazingly, in spite of the fact that the 'skeeters were thick as clouds, they never went on the offensive and I made it out unbitten. Maybe that B-vitamin complex thing is working. The next morning RTD and I loaded up and headed for Portland, Oregon. I stopped off in Spokane, WA with the intent of typing out the Nu-skin story, but instead encountered an interesting individual, the Conspiracy Theorist. You know the kind, the one who KNOWS who the shooter on the grassy knoll was. That guy who unashamedly believes that tens of thousands of people could quietly conspire to falsify putting man on the moon, yet scoffs at the absurdity that less than fifty people could come up with the idea of flying planes into buildings. Yeah, that's right, I met Michael Moore. Well ok not really him, but you know the type.
I was sitting there attempting to remember everything about the Nu-skin incident when a gentleman next to me inquired if I was military. I told him I was and he launched into a diatribe about Blackwater, the "mercenary army" over in Afghanistan and Iraq. He went on to tell me how they had a base in North Carolina with over 300,000 "troops" and were building another in Washington state. he then continued on about how 9/11 was merely a distraction to get US troops off of US soil so that the Mercenary Army could grow and prepare. For what, he never said. Now, I don't know about you all, but this all seems a little strange to me... So I did a little research.
Apparently 9/11 was actually carried out by a little known group known only as "Al-Qaeda" which is headed up by mysterious leader known as "Osama Bin-Laden." I informed him of that and we went on to discuss how there is videotape of cruise missiles hitting the Pentagon. Now I've gotten e-mail on this in the past, and I usually respond with my knowledge of the existence of video of a 200ft tall "Stay Puff" marshmallow man attacking Manhattan, that the government has also tried to hide. This usually is not received well. I told the guy that I had friends whose family was AT the Pentagon that day and SAW the plane hit. Apparently they have been brainwashed to tell that story as to cover up the REAL attack, the missiles.
Next up I pointed out that Fort Hood, the largest US Army installation in the US (aside from the NTC) has only 33,711 people as reported by the US census, so base that holds hundreds of thousands of "troops", especially in secret, is a little suspect. I also pointed out the Blackwater has less than 1000 employees, so I wasn't sure where the other 299,000 were coming from. This was also scoffed at. Finally he went on to inform me that buildings in the WTC complex imploded on their own, and this was evidence of an obvious inside job. Again, I noted that it takes a demolitions crew several days to wire a building to blow, and it seems a little hard to believe NO ONE there noticed the teams of guys drilling and wiring TNT all through the building in the days leading up to that attack. Apparently this is also all being kept hush hush by the government. Seriously folk, we REALLY did have this conversation, as well as a bit more surreal stuff that I won't bother to recount here.
My point to all this is I am absolutely amazed that people really think that conspiracies of this scale are possible. It would be one thing if only 3-4 people had been involved in all this, but not thousands. We live in a culture where people will believe the most asinine and absurd theory yet reject that which is simple and concrete. Seriously, TV is not reality, and just because it works like that on 24, or whatever other show you see, that is not the real world... Anyhow, enough ranting, back to the trip!
The route I picked involved driving through eastern Washington to Oregon and following the Columbia River into Portland. Now when I think Oregon and Washington, I don't tend to think "barren desert" but alas, apparently that is much of these states! I always thought the pacific northwest was a virtual rainforest, but that apparently is only near the coast. As I drove on I saw amazingly huge fields of dirt, and little "dirt devils" funneling high into the sky. I also had to fight to keep the Bean on the road as 40 mph winds kept trying to plant the Bean against my will. After a few hours I picked up I-84 bordering the Columbia river, and eventually descended into a great canyon which becomes the Columbia River Gorge. The canyon was pretty spectacular in itself, but not very picturesque, and I began to worry that I might not have many pics for this leg. Every so often the expanse of brown would be slashed with the green of an occasional winery or other man-made expanse. The sides of the valley looked like steps from years and years of wildlife grazing there. In Afghanistan I always notices that all the hillsides as the stairstep appearance from centuries of goat travel, and always wondered how long this took. Apparently it takes a while... I kept looking out over the barren rock and wondered just WHEN the forest was going to start. Luckily it wasn't far off.
After you get past The Dalles, which is a large dam complex, within about ten miles the scenery transitions from moonscape to rainforest. At first a few scrub pines dot the hills, then within a few bends of the road, the hills become carpeted in rich dark green forest and the desert is all but forgotten. The rocky embankments continue to jut out through the trees, but now they are moist and lichen covered, paying no homage to their brethren just a few miles back. As I neared Portland, the scenery became more impressive by the mile, and then I spotted a sign for Multnomah Falls. I immediately whipped the Bean off the highway, because I am a fan of anything with "falls" in the name. Well I pulled in the parking lot, turned the fan on for Rocky and headed towards the falls. At the information center I inquired as to the cost of entry, and was greeted with an odd look and the price; free. Apparently here in Oregon they've not yet sold all of the states parks off to capitalist interests yet. Maybe next week. I then headed up the trail to the falls, snapping pictures all the way and trying not to feel too out of place. Apparently I never got the memo that one is required by unwritten law to wear at least one item of Patagonia, North face, Colombia, or Birkenstock clothing at all times. I also missed the part where dogs were ALLOWED in the park, another first.
The falls themselves were nothing less than impressive. It's a narrow stream that launches itself off a 275' drop to a stony covered pool at the bottom, the another 50' fall into the streambed below. The trail on the way up is shaded by towering moss covered cedars along its' length, and long fronded ferns encroach on the trail wherever possible. The closer you get to the pool, the cooler the temperature gets until it seems that you'll need a jacket at the end. The mist from the falls blows freely through the trees adding its' own twist to the cooling effect. On a hot summer day I could see this place being mistaken for paradise. For anyone coming into Portland from I-84 this is a must see. The best part again being the prices, Free. Fitty-free!
After I left the falls I headed into Portland where the Garminator threw in a few twists and turns in its' attempt to get me into the nearest bad part of town, but I made it to my friends place unscathed, and no one even through tofu at me or accosted me for polluting my way through town in the Bean. That's ok... the adventures really began at the apartment, where Rockstar did his best to lay waste to all the principles of "How to Win Friends and Influence People."
See, here's a bit more about Rockstar... I REFUSE to have him neutered. Now I know all the "benefits" of this process, but I also know all the "negatives" that no one seems to realize, and because of this I'll leave RTD as he came, fully male. Unfortunately RTD doesn't get to be around many other dogs, and when he does they usually roll over and submit at the slightest glance. Well here RTD met Joey, and together they stepped onto the fields of battle. All began ok as the usual butt-sniffing pleasantries were exchanged, but then it went downhill. See RTD only knows one game with other dogs and it's the ButtHumper game. Joey was having none of this. Rocky was. Well as soon at RTD attempted the mount, Joey whipped around and began to lay the beat down on Rockstar. I calmly stood there and sipped my beer, mildly amused. Unfortunately the other people there entered "blind panic" mode and began attempting to separate them. Well at that I stepped in and tried to separate also, much to no avail. Realizing that spraying them with a hose usually works, I scanned the area for a hose but came up empty hooked. Then a ray of genius hit me and I did the next best thing. I shook my beer and sprayed them with it. I guess my west TN redneck habits die hard. I considered running to the truck to put on a wife beater to truly represent, but decided against it. Now again, understand I do not advocate fighting dogs as a sport, but what 99.9999% of people seem to not understand is THIS IS WHAT DOGS DO. When new dogs meet, if more than one is "dominant" there has to be a little smack down to make sure all know where they stand. The problem is when you break this up, it goes unresolved.
Well after we got them apart, no blood was shed and they went about ignoring each other for a bit. Then another little dog showed up. The dog park then digressed into 5th grade recess. Remember how back in the day before mandatory life sentences for playground altercations, two kids would scuffle but neither would win, so they'd skulk around the playground eyeing each other but not doing anything? Remember that little turd who inevitable showed up and would say stuff like "I wouldn't let him do that to me!" etc etc. That was this dog. He came up and immediately antagonized RTD and the fight back on, now two on one. Joey immediately got back in on the action and the smack down continued. Unfortunately the little smacktalker dog managed to puncture three of Rocky's legs up, and Joey got a nasty gash on his head, and both had ears that were lightly chewed on. Smacktalker scampered away unscathed, just like 5th grade. After all were separated, there were random bouts of growling, but that was it. For now.
I kept advocating taking RTD and Joey inside where there WEREN'T little anklebiters, and finally it was agreed and on we did. Once inside the calm was short-lived as they got into it again. This time I intervened on their behalf and allowed it to continue. Finally after RTD had been pinned a couple times, it was over and calm was restored. Unfortunately RTD still kept trying to play the Butthumper game, but it never really escalated again. The best part was when RTD kept attempting to mount and Joey would walk off leaving RTD furiously thrusting away at nothing with the guiltiest face ever... There were a few more altercations, but by now neither were attempting to bite, and it was obvious they were settling down. Finally by late evening they were laying together and alternately licking each others wounds and growling. By bedtime friends had been made all around, and calm was finally acheived for the evening. Ahhh another day in the life of RTD....
Well today I'm exploring Portland and the surrounding area, and intend to head out tomorrow for points south, so look forward to that! I may get the nu-skin story up soon, too. Until then...