In Denio, Nevada

Made it to the Great Basin, still solidly in reality.

Yesterday evening I walked into two competing bars, on either side of the Oregon/Nevada state line, and didn’t see a soul wearing a sign of submission. After a long stretch of lonely road, it was nice to chat with a few people. I ended up going up a half mile to the bar in Oregon, and walked in to a room with a wood fire and friendly faces. They said I could park anywhere for free, so I chose a secluded spot next to the building and under some trees.

I had crossed the Cascades at the Willamette Pass, and came south and cut across the Sprague River valley. Saw my first aspen trees, breathtakingly bright green with their new leaves and smooth white trunks. I love them. The river was running clear, and the ranch fields were backed by low mountains covered with tall pine. Some truly beautiful ranch country, and not the zoo that is now Central Oregon. There was a small solar farm at tiny Bly, Oregon that gave me a start, and a baffled scowl too when I saw a few too many cutsey-hip businesses. What’s going on there? 

Lakeview was blessedly out-of-date, still. Then we turned off to the Warner Pass road and went through the Warner Mts, coming out at Adel, still with its blue and white country store. Then we did one of my favorite stretches of highway, Hwy. 140 to Denio Jct.  I felt joy well up climbing up the side of a huge escarpment, watching the empty country spread out. This landscape looks best when a rainstorm is blowing in, which it was yesterday. Gorgeous purple grey clouds and dissolving curtains of rain softened the sweeping valleys, bluffs, and mountains, all without a sign of human impact. This photo does not do it justice, since I felt pressed for time and did not stop. One of the only cars I saw on this stretch had a young, bearded fellow standing on it, taking a video–for his Instagram, no doubt.

In the night, as I was deeply asleep and cozy as a bug, a loud metallic clank woke me abruptly. I then realized that subliminally I had been hearing a repetitive rubbing  sound from outside the window by the stove. It had caused my enameled metal bowl to fall a bit into the pot I’d nested it in, and the metal spoon in it had made that noise. Whatever had been pushing on the van stopped.

I don’t know if it was an animal, or the half-witted young man who had been attempting to talk to me at the bar that evening. It was ten minutes to two in the morning, and that little hamlet had a scattering of shacks and mobile homes that anyone could have walked over from. And I had no cell service. It was dead quiet.

I got the alarm that my friend gave me before I left, and wondered for awhile if I knew how to work my bear spray canister, or if it would work after ten years. Might should test that. Eventually I fell back to sleep.