Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It ain't the years son it's the miles

Today was a wonderful day here in the Columbia Basin. Highs were in the 70’s, a bit of a breeze and lots of sunshine. The kind of day that just makes you breathe a bit deeper and appreciate life just a bit more than maybe you normally would. This was really a good thing as the rest of the community and I spend the week remembering and missing our friend Chet. Saturday there was a wonderful gathering in his memory and it was great to see so many old friends and neighbors. Tonight there was another remembrance at the fire hall where Chet was Chief. I mentioned in my last blog post about trucking with Chet. Tonight it made me think about just how many miles a person can travel in any given week when you live out here in the boondocks.

I often chuckle when talking to people from urban areas when they talk about driving from place to place. Right here in the local area we have the “Tri Cities”. Pasco, Kennewick and Richland Washington are dissected by the Columbia and Yakima rivers but are otherwise connected. The Snake River also joins the other two nearby creating bridges to most anywhere here in the local area. What causes me to be amused is how outsiders from large cities and some local people define just what a “long ways” is. I hear people say things like, “Oh that is clear over in Richland.” Or things like, “So you went all the way over the bridge to Pasco?” In the Tri Cities you can be just about anywhere if you put 5 miles on your vehicle so I find their idea of a long drive absurd.

Where we now live I almost feel we are practically in the middle of Los Angeles and it is not just because of the racial makeup of the local population. The fact that I can drive a modest 11 miles and walk through a door where some person in their mid 120’s says, “Welcome to Wal-Mart.” is extraordinary to me. Driving just is not a big deal to me when I consider how far or how long it takes to get somewhere. One year the Connell fall festival committee had T shirts with the saying “Connell, 30 miles from water, 3 feet from HELL.” I admit they fudged that a bit as we are at most 28 1/2 miles from water.

Let me give you and example of my week as far as mileage and what I would consider normal for the most part. Saturday morning I drove 114 miles to Spokane to watch Dakota play her first game in “Hoopfest”. My bride and Dakota had made the trip Friday evening in a different vehicle I might add. After watching the game I headed south for home, another 114 miles. I did a few quick things and then took a “short” (20 mile) trip to the Bauermeister farm for Chets memorial. I of course eventually drove home. That’s 268 miles for those keeping track at home and the black Dodge looked at me like I was a weak traveler. Sunday I took it easy and only put 33 miles on the brown Ford with a trip to south Othello (Bob’s corner) and running around the ranch. We did run into Othello Sunday evening again which is 22 miles round trip. Christine had also driven home from Spokane (another 114 miles) that is 437 and the week has barely begun.

Monday was really great because I stayed in proximity to the ranch and only put 26 miles on an odometer. Chris had gone to Connell and back from work which adds another 30 miles. 493 miles for those keeping track. Tuesday I had a trip into Connell (15miles) and then another 36 miles to Pasco to the FSA office to fill out my yearly acreage report. I then had 42 miles home. Chris had another 30 miles round trip to work and back. 616 is my count at this point but I am drinking whiskey. This is why many people in this area give directions in a different way. “How far is it to Walla Walla? Someone will ask. “It is about 2 beers south and one beer east” would be the appropriate answer.

That brings us to today Wednesday June 30th 2010. This is 2 years now since we spent our first night in this cozy but frustrating home here on the ranch. Christine made her morning commute to Connell (15miles) and also went to Burbank to meet and drop off Samantha’s car at the mechanics which is another 40 miles and then 45 miles back home. I went to Othello and back for a toilet water supply hose adding another 22 miles. The family then took two vehicles to Basin City tonight and came home and Samantha went back to Pasco. 60 miles in round numbers which puts the week close to 800.

Tomorrow I am going to Toppenish with some calves which will add 180 more round trip miles while Chris will put on 30 miles going to work in Connell and back. A total of over 1000 miles and we just got through Thursday. Kind of makes that 5 mile trip across the bridge to Richland look pretty menial from the perspective of someone who lives out in the country.

Today’s real environmentalist species is the mosquito aka Culiseta longiareolata which is very prevalent this time of year.

Today’s picture is the black Dodge racking up miles even without a driver as hay is fed in the spring of 2008.