Up Bear Creek
by Art Goodtimes
Travels with Gregorio Rainbow Oshá
ON THE ROAD … Each summer I look forward to traveling with my youngest son. It’s the high point of the non-school year for both of us … Of course, I rarely do anything singly. Seems like double-tasking is de rigeur for my busy life as pol, poet, poppa and spud farmer. So, rather than just a vacation, I often combine business and pleasure. This year was no different … The Rainbow Gathering at Skookum Meadows in Skamania County, Washington, was one major focus. The annual meeting of the National Association of Counties (NACo) at the Portland Convention Center was the other. Both were in the first part of July. Both were in the Pacific Northwest. Marrying the two together seemed natural, although one involved my wild hippie countercultural society and the other our shared mainstream law&order cultural matrix. Perhaps polar opposites for some. But I subscribe to the dictum, “All power to the paradox,” as my poet friend Jack Mueller would insist.
LATE START … The intent this year was to leave Cloud Acre at the end of June and get to the Rainbow Gathering for its start, July 1st. But no such luck. It took Gorio and I two full days of packing to get ready for our trip, and to secure Cloud Acre with friends to feed the cats and tend the fifty some potato varieties that I grow each year. Shoehorning gear for both camping in the wilds and formal political meetings into a tiny Honda Civic was no easy task. We made it fit, but didn’t start our journey until the day the gathering was supposed to start … Gorio and I agreed to not rush, and enjoy our travels as much as our destinations … So, the first night was spent in Fruita, at Danny Rosen’s North 19 Straw Bale Observatory, where it just so happened three of our favorite poets in the world were having a campfire evening – Rosen, Wendy Videlock of Grand Junction and the aforementioned Mueller of Log Hill Village in Ridgway. An evening spent quoting lyrics, explicating the nature of memory and drinking fine liquids of various sorts made for a great (if late) start to our journey … And in the spirit of not rushing, Gorio slept into the afternoon before we got back on the road. Ah, the vacationing life…
GREEN RIVER … The Green River Coffee Company has become a favorite stop in a long desolate stretch of Interstate (with starkly beautiful scenery). Great coffee. Wifi (although they charge a small fee to plug in). Good sandwiches. And a relaxed, bookish atmosphere … You hardly feel like you’re in Utah. And the java is organic. 25 East Main St. And if you park down a side block, you can even find a little shade.
LA GRANDE … The second day we made a little better time, driving from a so-so motel in Salt Lake City to a must-stop eatery on any Northwest journey. A few years ago, just by chance, we stopped in La Grande and found ourselves seated for dinner at Foley Station. And what a dinner it was! Some of the tastiest, most creative food I’ve had and for a very reasonable price … Over the years, it has become a destination cafe for me. I like to plan my trips around dinner or breakfast at Foley Station in La Grande… This time we found a small very cheap (under $50 for 2) but clean motel on the outskirts of town – Quail Run Motor Inn. The sound of the rail line across the road added rural flavor. The proprietors – a lovely Indian couple – kept the grounds in excellent shape, and were very friendly … But the high point for us was dinner at Foley Station. The meal was excellent, although the male waiter was a bit slow and we were a bit cranky, so he didn’t get the big tip he could have gotten. But I’d recommend this restaurant to anyone anytime. Even with slow service … Our only regret was that they’d decided to close for the 4th of July weekend, so we didn’t get Sunday brunch like we’d hoped.
SKOOKUM MEADOWS … Gorio’s middle name is Rainbow. It’s where his mother and I first met. And he’s been going with me every other year since he was born (the gathering is held in national forests around the county and alternates between the east coast and the west coast – with our attending only when it’s in the west) … Since we got to the gathering so late, we had to park miles from the event, and ended up walking for hours and hours, camping outside the gathering, and only making it into the site for the 4th of July peace circle … But still it was inspiring. And other than the Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) from their D.C. “unified command,” it was a very peaceful gathering. I heard later from a local county commissioner in Skamania County that the LEOs failed to coordinate with the local sheriff, alienated all the local people, and made many silly and ridiculous arrests … Once again, it was the Feds out of control. Must be some sort of lesson there.
PEBBLE MINE … Poet friend Cameron Scott, whose fine poem is our Talking Gourd for this week, says that Telluriders may be familiar with this “big plain suck ass of a mine” in Alaska from the award-winning film by our local filmmakers, Red Gold.
THE TALKING GOURD
Growing up we used to throw pebbles
over power lines.
Rotation of shoulder, whip of forearm.
Our laughter scattering into the grass.
Laboring through the heat of rules
without rules, some of us took aim
at magpies and windows.
Then staring down at our dirty socks
we would ask forgiveness
for the windows.