Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shower naps

I have mentioned here before that I spent a portion of my younger years driving semi truck. The last few days I have had some reminders why I do not do that for a living any longer as well as a few things I miss about those days on the road. I double fed cows Saturday morning and headed north to Omak which is about 150 miles from home. I was traveling there to attend the Okanogan Cattlemen’s Association annual membership meeting and banquet. Thank you to them for the hospitality and fun times.

The roads were good and I wasted little time speeding up highway 17 and 97. I am very familiar with this road as it was the primary route of my apple hauling days. So many things are the same and even more are different than they were in the later 80’s and early 90’s on this road. One reason I enjoy this road is for the diversity of the landscape. Much of this road would really make people wonder why Washington is called “The Evergreen state” and not the rocky, brown state! I actually love this landscape, dry range for miles with basalt rocks of all types of patterns and depths.

One of the first things I noticed was how every little town along the way has both grown in some ways as well as shrunk in other ways. In Soap Lake the old Lake Motel is still there but has become apartments and the amount of peeled paint and garbage has increased. This was as nice of place where you could get a room for $79.99 per week if you agreed to 5 weeknights back in the day. It was certainly nothing fancy but compared to the piece of plywood between the seats of a 1973 Kenworth the beds were very nice. The best thing about the motel was you could fall asleep in the shower and never run out of hot water. More than once I wrinkled up my butt skin pretty well after taking a nap as the water poured down. I can see the headline now “Truck driver drowns in bathtub at local resort”

The road is much better than it used to be but there is no longer a thriving business at the Dry Falls café. There was a time when Doris would make the best chicken fried steak and eggs and only charge you $3.99 and her husband Herb always made sure your diesel tanks were full and your windshield was clean as well. This particular spot was the first one where I saw diesel for over $1.00 a gallon. Those were the days. As I climbed the hill and started across the flats between Dry Falls and Bridgeport it was almost as if time has stood still. Wheat ranches and a few cattle operations look the same but many of them have some newer equipment. The areas propensity to be foggy has not changed.

As I turned on highway 97 I noticed the state weigh station. More than once Jack the WSDOT man at that time and I argued in the little building. He was mostly fair but did once write me a ticket for an “unsecured load” because so much juice was dripping from my load of juice apples. I suppose it was fair because I would sometimes meet his daughter in Brewster for a drink and other things back then. I got lucky when some concerned motorist flashed their headlights warning me of a WSP with a radar gun hidden in the trees near what I call Lone Pine south of Monse Washington. There is a wide spot in the road there and many times I took a quick snooze under that lone pine tree. Okanogan and Omak are pretty much the same but they now have a WalMart and a Pizza Hut that does not do any deliveries! What the heck do they expect me to eat for breakfast in a motel room if they won’t deliver a pizza at 1 am on an early Sunday morning? I would recommend the Omak Inn for travelers needing an overnight there. Nice rooms and great prices with a nice continental breakfast if you can’t get a pizza delivered.

On the way home Sunday morning the sun was shining and I really enjoyed taking in the scenery. I was also glad that I would not be passing across the same road in 24 hours. I put on about 350 miles today picking up steers and delivering them to WSU for the Cougar Cattle Feeders for their annual feeding program. I made sure I had fuel and did not run out on the way home this time!

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Northern Flicker aka Colaptes auratus.

Today’s pictures are some Hereford cows near Leahy Junction and a Hereford bull foraging through a dry creek bottom.I also was able to finally get the corn combining video to load.