Been there, done that

Forest Service Road, Wenatchee National Forest, South of Wenatchee, Washington State
We are closer and closer to the US, to the border where they will question us thoroughly about beef. Did we eat beef in Canada? Are we bringing any back in our refrigerator? (Why, no, officer, the frig died in Tennessee, and even our dogs are vegetarians.) What have we purchased in Canada, food-wise? Wine and trail mix? Well is there any beef in any of that?

We stop at a vineyard right before the border, a gorgeous place three miles up a steep, twisting road. The vineyard is dog-friendly, has a grassy Barking Lot to tether dogs in the soft shade. We taste half a dozen wines and end up with a bottle of one of the tastiest Chardonnays ever. Also a bottle of a yummy but (now) immemorable red.

We've been out of the country (except for Alaska, which is both absolutely American and also not quite American) for so long we have mixed feelings about coming back. We have to, because Burning Man is here, and because the Canadian winter would be too much, and because we are so absolutely and totally over budget and out of money, but we don't really want to come back. Skip would have fled the USA years ago if it wasn't for me, and I'm not sure that I can live in this place in its current state, either. Friends tell us that another liberal era is on the way, and I want to stay and be a part of that, and I hope that the current Regime, so brutally right-wing, will usher it in, but I'm not sure how much longer we can hop up and down on this end of the pendulum, waiting for it to swing. I wish I could talk to Dr. Willet, my history professor and the man I worked for as an undergrad, because he has such an amazing grasp of patterns in America, maybe he could give me hope. He always said that when the middle class shrinks, watch out for big changes, but the problem now is that the middle class has kept itself from completely atrophying with credit. Pay at the pump, don't notice the high gas prices. Home equity line of credit. Consolidation of student loans. Living the regular life, but owned by banks. Luckily cable TV in HD with surround sound drowns out the jingle of the shackles. And you're doing it for your children anyway, right?

We can't help thinking about this, talking a little bitterly, as we head into Washington state. It's freaky, but although the terrain looks just like Canada, yellow, billowing desert with a shiny river keeping it livable, the feeling is completely different. Like we can feel the corporate mundaneness, the litigation and lawyers, the judgmental nosy-parkers. We can feel the Patriot Act, the oil war, the hardening of old hippies into something truly awful (this means you, Hilary Clinton nee Rodham).

It gets hot, fast. Almost a hundred degrees, dogs panting almost as fast as I worry about them. We strip down to shorts and airy shirts. It is August, after all. How could we have remembered, up there in the Klondike?

Relief from all our woes come as we head up into the mountains, into the deep, chilly forest. Redwoods or Secoya (I can never tell them apart unless they are growing right next to one another). Crackling streams. Soft pine floors. We camp down a road near an area that is obviously for skiiing during winter. Black diamond trails and Do Not Ski here areas. We walk the dogs forever, make macaroni and cheese with a little bit of salsa, and play cards as the chill of night sets in. Two sleeping bags, one-dog night, with the desert so far below us, panting its hot breath, unable to reach even our ankles.


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