No more days left in the month. One last chance to document the only July 2016 I will ever see. What a July it has been! I found myself following the banks of the Columbia River of Washington and Oregon, the inlet channels of Houston, Texas and the steep climb of I-35 up the shallow slopes of the ancient mountain range of Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Mountains.
I have only cried twice before at the site of something new, both occasions were the first sight of my newborn children. The third time was three weeks ago, as I rounded a bend and after my first 10 minutes of awe, the sight of the Columbia River. The rocky cliffs of her banks, the clear blue of her water and the wide shear expanse of her width from shore to shore. I promise myself that I will go back again to explore more than just the glancing blow of this first encounter. Soon I hope.
Houston, I must say there is no crying there. It is a hard work town of tall buildings, tall bridges, tall cranes and geodesic domed 350,000 barrel oil storage tanks. She ties energy to and from the USA and the world. We either love her or hate her but at this time we can’t live without her. She has provided me with a good living from a number of visits this year. Thank you Houston.
The ancient mountain range of the Arbuckles, what can I say, they are just old and beautiful. Not at all as intimidating as the brute force height and sharp turns of the Rockies. The Arbuckle range only rises to about 1500 feet above sea level. Just a 40 mile stretch of granite that dates back at least 1.4 billion years. The oldest rock formations between the Appalachian and the Rocky Mountains. Water falls, caves, caverns and rich in dozens of minerals. Water oozes from its rocky cracks. The most diversity of minerals found in any one spot in the United States.
My work involves a bit (a lot really) of travelling. But where I go I must work. Little time is allowed for sightseeing, although I do see the sights, but only glancing blows , as I call it. As I work, I can look up and through a window see Mt. Hood, the Houston Space Center or perhaps the St. Louis Arch. I can be surprised by suddenly coming upon Devil’s Tower and saying to myself, “jeez! glad I came this way, didn’t realize I’d be so close.” I’ve passed the big green “Mt. Rushmore, Next Exit” sign a half a dozen times but waited until on vacation to exit once. And I have worked within miles of and spent nights at Sturgis one week after the Bike Rally ended, twice. But I do buy the Tee-shirt. As I am driving in, I meet hundreds of bikes moving out.
I’ve driven by, without stopping, the world’s largest ball of twine and the world’s largest pecan. I have passed by the Automobile Stonehedge in Nebraska. And I have passed, without a blink, Big Brutus, one of the largest in the world coal digging Bucyrus-Erie model 1850B electric shovels, with only catching from the corner of my eye its shovel that is large enough to park a school bus in. Without a flinch, I have passed by these amazing things.
No, I’m not a truck driver. My main conveyance is a white Chevy Silverado pickup or if need be, an Airbus 320. I work in a business that doesn’t give a shit how far I have to travel or what sites I have or have not seen. What the business knows is that while this or that black box is not installed or functioning, they are losing money and the longer it isn’t functioning the more money they have lost. So I am basically on my way home at the same time that I’m leaving my drive-way. I sort-a don’t have time for the picture takin’ or the visitin’ with the Denny’s Restaurant waitress. When I’m at a hotel, I’m probably sleeping or taking a quick shower. A Jacuzzi takes way to long to fill and warm up and there’s probably no Jacuzzi anyway, but on those few occasions that I have one, after checking that I’m in the right room number, I usually have crashed on top of the bedspreads and sound asleep before the damn thing even starts circulating water.
But I do see a lot of country, from 150 miles off shore in the Gulf of Mexico via helicopter to the bowels of northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, via 6 wheeled mule. My company frowns on its employees blogging about what we do for them and to keep any publication of what they do funneled through their own professional communications department (that makes sense) and I respect and I understand that. So I must only give you the same glancing blow accounts of the glancing blow views that I’ve seen. I am retiring in a few months. Someday I may write about them. And maybe a few pictures, too.
And I do plan to go back to those places and take the time to at least fill up the Jacuzzi.
Such is the life of John