BY KIMBERLY MAYER
It’s a country of alfalfa, potato, and cattle around Merrill, Oregon. Western storefronts still standing. The Wild Goose Lodge. Here Mexican food gets good. Lost River and Lava Beds National Monument, who knew?
Over the border and in California without knowing it. No wonder the green turned gray, Sage Brush and Scrub Pines. All the many Jeffrey Pine with edible leaves and a bark that smells like vanilla.
Bee farms, and rivers running dry. Barns, and farm house architecture inspired by barns. Butte Creek.
Mt. Lassen, site of my husband’s first camping trip with his parents. Their first and last time camping.
Rusted incinerators once used for burning at old saw mills. Now we repurpose the bark and chips in a multitude of ways.
We’re doing something right.
Cactus appears like roadside daisies in the North country where I come from. Ranches with acreage too vast to fence. Cattle crossing signs on the road. I think of the difference between watching for leaping deer versus a big old, going nowhere, bull.
Transformation to an apocalyptic terrain. Looking like Death Valley.
Pit stop: we need to get out. We need to get back in the car and go. Too hot–even the dogs say so.
Eagle Lake. Susanville. Nearing Reno, more ranch country. Nothing like a city do we see. Instead John Steinbeck and The Grapes of Wrath come to mind. “Dust devils” kicking up like little cyclones.
What is that light on the dash?
Bordertown, Nevada. A white salt lake that’s been browned by dirt dust. Boomtown. Truckee River, and I know we’re getting there. Gold Ranch Road. Having grown up on the east coast, how I love these western names.
Tahoe Nat’l Forest. Squaw Valley. We’re in the Sierras here.
All the rafting on the Truckee River alongside us, as we bumper-to-bumper our way in to Tahoe City. Rafts tied up like traffic, laughing all the way. Summer break happens here & now. I’m thinking I could live here.
Freedom of movement. Haven’t I always loved that about this country?