03 January 2007

Winding up our trip to Washington

We've spent the last few days seeing some of the local scenery. Unfortunately, I don't have the best photos to post because I lost most of them. I'm still just sick about that. Photos of the whirlpools of Buffalo Eddy in the Snake River. . . photos of the Nez Perce petroglyphs in the rock next to Buffalo Eddy. . . photos of the breathtaking view of Puffer Butte and the painted Blue Mountains below . . . photos of Steve doing a handstand while wearing snow shoes . . . and photos of couger tracks along our snow shoe route in Field Springs. Yes, all of these photos and more are just plain gone. I haven't had the best luck uploading photos from our camera onto my laptop . . . and something always seems to go awry in that transition and utilizing Picasa. But, they're forever gone, and I guess we'll just have to come back and visit again and take more pictures.

Photo of a rocky hill along the Snake River on our way to Buffalo Eddy.The Waha mountains as seen from the Snake River valley. You can see the giant "C" for Clarkston H.S. on the crest of the center peak. They light up a giant star during the holiday season.

Last night we visited several relatives. Most of my relatives up here are elderly, typically over age 80. Compared to most of the elderly that I interact with in Florida, the folks up here have so much more youth and vigor, and they are, overall, much healthier. The older folks participate in the card games or dominoes with the youth, they often keep active with outdoor activities which may range from walking around the block, tending to chickens, or gardening. But mostly, they just like to find audience with the youth, so they can share their amazing life stories of their younger days.

We listen to my grandfather tell and retell tales of his glory days as a cowboy, and his near misses with death, of which he's had more than most. He woes about the 100 acres of riverview property he could have bought for $6k years ago, and missed purchasing it by a day. We've heard the tale about how many boats he's sunk in the rapids of the Snake River, how he was one of the first persons EVER to go tubing down the Snake River. We've heard about how he braved cold temperatures and ate whale blubber when he spent some time with the Eskimoes in Alaska, and how the Eskimoes will just dive into the frigid cold and icy waters to hunt on a regular basis. He has a hundred more tales, and he's doing his best to record them for posterity in the family. He's one of the last real cowboys. He's one of the guys from the early and mid-century west that lived what John Wayne acted out on film. He had grit, steely tenacity, and worked hard and hunted big game.

My great uncle Jim told us stories about how he made $0.06/hour at the Potlatch paper mill in the valley, and as newlyweds, he and my great Aunt Francis weren't sure they could make their $28 house payment each month. Hunting wasn't a sport back then, it was a necessity to feed hungry mouths. He hunted in the rough Idaho country, which meant strapping the large game on his back and taking it out in several trips to get it home. My great uncle Jim was also a former marine who fought in Iwo Jima. He thinks it's ludicrous that today's media balks at the 3000 American troops who've been killed in the 4 year war in Iraq. He thinks it's tragic, to be sure, but he lost several fellow marines in his unit alone in Iwo Jima. . . a battle that lost 7,000 troops in only 2 months. He definitely believes that Vietnam and the Korean war weren't lost by America's troops, but by U.S. politicians . . . which is where the Iraq war stands on the scales today.

Uncle Jim also told us about good officers and bad officers. Things have changed so much since his day in the service. He said if the enlisted troops didn't like an officer, they let him know that he wouldn't make it back to the beach once they deployed. He cites sources of the number of USMC officers who were killed in action . . . because they were shot in the back by their own troops. He said that it was a good number of "good" officers who were left. Leave it up to the marines to purge their own.

I love the stories, and I have a much greater appreciation for their generation. I hope their stories won't die with them. I hope they live long in words, and in our memories. We need to remember our roots. It's awe inspiring in these majestic mountainous lands, snow-cropped hills and rocky soil, giant looming trees, and bountiful wildlife . . . it may be quiet in the west, but it isn't quaint. This land makes you yearn for your roots, and it makes you yearn to live in a place that fills you with awe and grandeur. I never had quite the same feeling in Texas, Oklahoma, or Florida . . . there's just something magnificent about the northwest.


Anonymous Ray said...

I've enjoyed your recent posts. Since I'm a chiropractor, a Christian, live in Washington and even have a blog, it seems I should at least say..."Hi"

Hope you have a great new year and if you and you husband ever get out this way again, be sure to look us up.


P.S. I don't think either Lilly or Blazer requires a "beware of dog sign."

04 January, 2007 22:38  

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