Glancing in the rearview mirror, I saw only satisfaction. Fourteen days of jangling in and around the Portland/Vancouver area had been fruitful. I got a lot of writing done, savored reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, shot nearly a thousand photos, and survived the Lord of the Flies experience with Bailey and Murphy. All positive. The lone sour note was a nagging jones for my girlfriend Shellski, dog Sheila, and cat Bob. But that would soon be rectified.
I was cleaning up for a farewell dinner with CC and family when the call came. My cousin Darryl - an inveterate vintage tin sleuth - had made an amazing discovery in remote eastern Oregon. He called to insist that I cover it before heading south. A few frantic phone calls later, the secret photo shoot was locked in. All of that dialing had worked up a powerful appetite. Murphy and Bailey were snoozing on the couch when I silently slithered out the back door, driven by a hundred forms of hunger.
Late the next night, the Kiwi Metal Fab crew finally returned from New Zealand (and brutal multi-day layovers in Hawaii). Seconds after their arrival from the airport, two weeks of dog training went out the window. It was almost worth it to see everyone so happy. What a reunion it was...
In the morning I packed up and headed east - straight into the last vestige of the untamed west - and my own past. I stopped for lunch in The Dalles, Oregon - snuggled up to the Columbia river, in the shadow of Mt. Hood - where I was born and raised. It was disappointing to find the little town that time forgot, slowly affecting a tourist-friendly makeover. But enough of the old hometown remained to trigger emotional memories, pro and con. I aimed the Honda up into the agricultural hills beside the river and watched time melt away to reveal forgotten America. This is where my folks came from. My dad quit school in the fourth grade to help out on the farm, outside of Dufur. My mom was from Wasco. Both towns remain mostly unchanged today. Reassuring stability.
With the shoot in the bag, I went south. Destination: Bend, Oregon. I was completely covered with heavy dust from the shoot, but didn't care. It was a great experience.