August 2011


48 Contiguous States, 48 not so contiguous memories: The northwest

In a couple of weeks I shall have crossed the Contiguous United States line—having visited all 48 of the contiguous states, leaving only Alaska and Hawaii to be visited sometime down the road.

I thought that I would share my memories of the states – at first I thought about doing it in alphabetical order, but instead I am going to do it in geographic clusters, starting with the northwest. I might note that my definition of geographic clusters might be pretty loose compared to others.

Live with it.

I’ll start with Wyoming – and there’s so much I could say about Wyoming having lived there for six years. It’s a beautiful state – but an acquired taste. I’m not sure I can pin down a favorite memory of it: certainly Laramie plays a bit role in my memories with the university and all of its related memories. I also tremendously enjoyed my vacation through Wyoming back in October 2009, even if it did snow on me.

Wyoming has this rugged individualism about it – a quality that is hard define. It prides its self on having cowboy values and being independent—although, truth be told, it is highly reliant on funds from the federal government.

Montana, on the other hand, I have few memories of – my main memory is of going to Red Lodge with my family – I was a very young child at this point – and seeing an eclipse. The only thing I honestly remember is that we’d parked somewhere in the country side and that it got dark during the day – and that a nearby street lamp came on.

Surprisingly I have even fewer memories of Idaho. I know that I’ve been there because I’ve driven with my family from Colorado to Oregon and this necessarily involves crossing Idaho – but as I write this, I cannot think of a single thing that I can explicitly say involves me in Idaho.

Oregon, on the other hand, has a plethora of memories. Two of the most vivid involve eastern Oregon – one time we were spending the night (that is to say, my Mom, Dad, and me) at a motel in Burns. My Dad and I went for a swim in the motel’s pool, which still stands out in my mind as one of the warmest swimming pools I’ve ever swum in – we even warned another woman as she was about to get into the pool – and she immediately asked for the soap—it was bathtub warm.

The other vivid memory was probably the very next day, heading east out of town on US 20 toward Idaho: at some point all three of us were starting to get a bit drowsy—and then a deer leapt across the road almost immediately in front of us. There was no accident, thankfully, but the adrenalin woke us up and kept us going well into Idaho.

Other than that, I have memories in involving Portland (VooDoo Donuts, Powell’s Book store, and that nearby used book store that stocked wonderful vintage gay porn novels), and time spent in Tillamook (“Land of Cheese, Trees, and Ocean Breeze”). Actually my earliest Portland memories were visiting my maternal Grandmother who lived there – we visited shortly after Mt. St. Helens erupted–that must have been the summer of 1980..

Although I’m sure that we visited Washington State during that first visit after Mt. St. Helens erupted, my most vivid Washington State memory involves driving up from Tillamook with a friend, who lived there at the time, crossing the Columbia River on a high bridge, and then going up the coast some distance. I’d never driven a car on a beach before and I managed to get us stuck.


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