10 Years Ago – Last Time We Moved to West Point

I’m keeping notes on our current trip across the United States, which is going well and I will be sharing the details once we’ve arrived at my brother’s house and I’ve had a chance to process.

However, this is our second move from Pullman, Washington to West Point, NY and after the first one I wrote an email to friends and family to tell about the trip with my Mom, two boys and the gray cat. (Ric had gone ahead for training.) J.P. was three at the time, Josh was 16 months and I was twenty-nine for real that year. As far as I know, blogging hadn’t been invented but I saved the message which people thought was funny – like you laugh at videos of collapsing trampolines, I guess. I realize now that I had a tendency to try and put a better face on things at that stage in my life than I do now. So, here’s the story with a few editorial notes inserted in brackets below entries – otherwise it is exactly how I wrote it back then.

June 25th-July 2nd [2001] – Lisa and the boys in Spokane – We enjoyed a week of last visits with friends and family. We had an especially nice day in Clarkston with the Lindquist Great Grandparents. Lucas and Jeremiah got to spend lots of time together. Thursday afternoon Jeremiah split his forehead open on a rock when a toy bulldozer he was pushing got out of his control. Aunt Amanda and Grammy were on the scene and took him to the urgent-care clinic where he got 5 stitches put in.

[Traveling begins with stitches and all.]

July 3rd – [2001] Day 1 – Lisa, Karyn and the boys left Spokane at about noon and ended up in Bozeman, Montana. The scenery was beautiful. The children were wonderful in the car and we were excited about the trip. Ric officially started work by beginning the new instructor training course with the Chemistry department.

July 4th: [2001] Day 2 – The goal was to get to Mt. Rushmore for the night to watch fireworks, but that didn’t work out. The scenery was again beautiful, but the pace we would set was becoming clear – 375 miles per day was about all we could handle. We landed in Gillette, Wyoming for the night and enjoyed the best accommodations of our whole trip that night. Our room was on the ground floor, (much easier for Lisa the pack mule) and our door opened into the indoor courtyard including the pool and a piece of perfectly suited playground equipment for J&J to play on less than 20 feet from our room. We didn’t see fireworks, but we enjoyed some much-needed rest for us and release of energy for the boys.

July 5th: [2001] Day 3- We woke up and I took Jesse, the cat, to the veterinarian to get some antibiotics and have a wound on his head which had become infected and abscessed cleaned and drained. While I did that mom took Jeremiah to a clinic to have his stitches removed. Once that was all taken care of, we hit the road again planning to use Mt. Rushmore as our first rest stop of the day, but we ended up going to a place called “Bear Country U.S.A.” first. It was amazing – a drive-through zoo- with dozens of bears, elk, mountain lion, reindeer, etc… The boys loved it in spite of it being another 45 minutes in the car. Then we went on to Mt. Rushmore and realized while we were there that the engine needed oil. So, we stopped to get it checked in Rapid City – it was a very hot day and it was no fun to take the cat with us to lunch while the vehicle was being checked out. Once we hit the road again, we made it as far as Mitchell, South Dakota for the night.

[Ten years later I have to tell the rest of the story. That particular cat never had won a fight in his life but he decided to pick one right before we left on our trip. We heard all of the screaming, but our first inkling of the wound he incurred was while we were hauling suitcases into that Gillette hotel room. Then it became evident in a manner that I’m sure veterinarians can handle without losing their appetites, but Mom and I are not veterinarians. When we took him to one the next morning the solution was to shave a big patch on his head and leave a gaping hole in his flesh exposed to the air to heal. He looked – and acted – like something from a freak show for the rest of the trip.

Just wanted you to imagine that as you picture us “taking the cat to lunch”, but again, there’s more to the story. The Jeep was at a Jiffy Lube a few blocks of concrete oven away from a grocery store which was our only option for food. Obviously said cat couldn’t go in, so Mom sat on a mercifully placed bench in the airlock breezeway at the front of the store with him and Josh in the stroller while I took JP and a grocery cart into the real air conditioning. I will confess ten years later and a safe distance from my mother that I took my sweet time while she endured the parade of grocery shoppers filing past trying not to stare at the freak-show cat or gag on the raging diaper odor that began billowing forth the minute I was out of shouting distance with the diaper bag. Ironically the only picture I could find of the late Gray Gentleman shows him sleeping on a diaper-changing table – mocking my mother from his grave. ]

July 6, – [2001] Day 4 – Driving was getting pretty old and the scenery was less captivating than it had been up to that point. The boys were still being incredibly good in the car. They didn’t fuss, argue, whine or give us a hard time at any point during the trip. We counted this as a huge answer to prayer. We ended the day in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and stayed at a hotel in the middle of the river. After dinner we were about to take the boys swimming when Jeremiah crashed into the hotel room table and re-opened his head wound. It wouldn’t stop bleeding and kept swelling, so we got to visit another urgent-care clinic. The doctor pieced him back together with steri-strips, and told us he would end up with a very ugly scar because there was no way the scar tissue that had already formed would heal nicely where it had been torn loose along one side. Worst of all for Jeremiah was the fact that the doctor placed a moratorium on swimming for the rest of the trip.

July 7 – [2001] Day 5 – Really getting tired of hotel rooms, rest stops and driving by this point, but the boys were still behaving marvelously. We were rolling along nicely —-until Chicago. We spent two hours to go 8 miles on the interstate. That deflated morale and set us back considerably time wise, so we made it to Elkart, Indiana and called is a night. We realized at that point that all hope of making it a six-day trip needed to be abandoned.

[Another 10-years-later note: I think this was the night we decided eating a real dinner in the hotel’s restaurant would be a good idea. It wasn’t. Stemware, toddlers, frazzled grandmother, and a dead-tired mom didn’t mix well. JP at one point starting rocking his head back and forth repeating “It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay…” It was very sad.]

July 8 – [2001] Day 6 – The scenery started improving considerably and aside from a long traffic jam in the-middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, we made really good progress. We stayed at the lousiest hotel of the trip that night in DuBois, Pennsylvania, but at least the room was right next the entrance and our parking lot, so Lisa the mule, was spared some aggravation.

July 9 – [2001] Day 7 – The home stretch was beautiful and as smooth as silk. [FF 10 Yrs….Pennsylvania really was pretty – I missed it in our cut south during this trip but Kentucky was good deciduous-forest consolation. Anyway…] We made it to the Garrett’s house by about 3:00pm.

[Final Editing Note: At about 3:35 we tried to put the boys back into the car to go about a mile and a half up the hill to see the quarters we would be living in and we finally got our first temper tantrum of the trip. Josh considered the mission we’d been working on all week accomplished. We were at West Point, and he wasn’t getting back in the car without a fight. He is proud to this day of that line he drew in the sand.]

Farewell to America’s Tuscany

Our family moved to The Palouse a few weeks after a stay in Tuscany and the resemblance struck me immediately. I wasn’t the first to notice but I think this area is worthy of one more nod to its uncultured beauty before I leave it behind.

Tuscany’s natural sensuousness was cultivated into worldly beauty by men who were given to building castles and walls atop her shapely hills. Meanwhile, her twin sister, The Palouse, lolled away the days of knights and armor, under the feet of men who roamed her curves barely leaving a trace. A sheet from the same rippling canvas that was decorated into rustic sumptuousness by the Etruscans and Romans was left unadorned by the Palouse and Nez Pearce. Surely these tribes would smile in their graves if they could know how they managed to frustrate lucrative prospects for tourism by leaving no monuments for the offspring of their invaders to exploit.

Settlers with imagination left wonderful barns but they fall into ruin with a rapidity unknown to stone castles.

One catches a hint of what might have been by squinting at the turrets of Thompson Hall or the clock tower at WSU…

But, imagine the winding assent to Steptoe Butte culminating in the keep of a stately castle with dusty corners and a great hall lit through stained glass or Kamiak crowned with crenulated walls.

Picture Pullman, sporting an old city gate where a drawbridge once straddled the river or Colfax with cobblestone streets. (Certainly the speed limit is modest enough for such a surface even today.)

Such relics from the past would have given rise to bustling inns and cafés with bright awnings. Tourists with cameras strung around their necks would have flocked here had its earliest inhabitants not been so inclined to live without a footprint before it was vogue. Admittedly, Spokane doesn’t have the same compatible draw that Florence lends to Tuscany and Lewiston isn’t Rome, but these cities languish in obscurity only for the same want of ancient ambitions that has kept The Palouse from the fame her sister has acquired.

I for one am glad though that The Palouse saved herself for the unpretentious. The sister reared in simplicity has the early morning kind of beauty that her twin can no longer undress to the likeness of.

This land is supple and curvy in so many directions. It will not be farmed in flat furrows like its mid-west cousins. It lifts up and pulls down the man who would till its black soil into a golden glow and it stands ready to turn him over should his eye stray.

In the spring garlands of wildflowers are slung whimsically atop a rolling sea of green so vibrant it seems unreal. Pinks and blues are singled out for recognition as the sun cuts its eyes their direction in advance of its full summer gaze.

By July, the sun is focused with such intensity that only shades of red and gold are fully equal to meeting its gaze.

Winter brings ambling blankets of fog that veil the curves in layers of mystery, jealously forcing the sun to peek in around the edges. Snow takes on a new kind of splendor with these hills to aid in the formation of grand drifts.

The gray of winter lingers too long for my taste, but once it gives way to green at last I am smitten again. Where else do you find mile upon rolling mile of grass this green?

It doesn’t stay this this color for long though so I remain loyal at heart to the year-round greens that I grew up with in Western Oregon. Yet, it is impossible not to have your eye turned by this region especially when it is changing clothes in the spring and the fall. To leave in November or February would have been like saying farewell to a friend who has outstayed her welcome, but leaving in the splendor of spring gives me a pang of longing to come back here again before I am even gone.

But, for all that I love about the hills…

The ties I feel to this landscape pale in comparison to the bond I feel for the people I love who have roots established here. Our church family will remain after we go and they will draw me back here on Sundays whenever I visit my family in The Palouse’s answer to Florence. I will miss the distant scenery from my kitchen window, but not as much as I will miss the neighbors in the houses I have to look over to see it. The grand open views I pass on the way to Kate’s or Molly’s will fade long before the pleasant reminiscence of our hours together.

Goodbyes are the bane of the nomadic life. The last days in a joyful place produce an ache that forces me to stifle impulsive resolutions that I will never make new friends and never care about people that I will have to move away from again. But, the joys outweigh the pain and I wouldn’t trade digging deep in each new spot for the ease it might bring to the final stretch in a temporary home. To be a part of so many lives is a blessing I cherish in spite of the tears on my cheeks as I write this final paragraph.

To my friends and church family on The Palouse: I know from experience how much I will miss you. Even if we don’t keep in touch, you will come to mind in future years and bring a smile to my face. May God richly bless you in Christ!

…………………….

The photos in this post were my favorites from the web mixed in with a few of my own and two taken by my dear friend Kate Gross. The ones that I found on the web will take you back to their home sites if you click on them. I heartily encourage you to check out the beautiful portfolios they come from, especially palousephoto.net and kevinmcnealphotography.com

Here are some more spectacular pictures of the Palouse that I did not include out of respect for the stated policy on the website, but they are worth the cyber field trip, not to mention the photo tips from the blog…. http://thepalouseguy.com/gallery/

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