Category Archives: travel

An Extra Day in Eastern Washington

Wallula Gap as seen from near Twin Sisters

Wallula Gap as seen from near Twin Sisters

Due to bad weather on my intended route back to Utah I recently found myself staying an extra day at home in eastern Washington. I used the extra time to check out three nearby natural attractions: the McNary National Wildlife Refuge, the Twin Sisters / Wallula Gap, and the Skyline Trail on Badger Mountain. It was great to get out in nature and reconnect with my homeland a bit. This post is basically a photo dump plus a few thoughts on the experience.

The Twin Sisters rock formation in Walla Walla County, overlooking the Columbia River.

The Twin Sisters rock formation in Walla Walla County, overlooking the Columbia River.

Though to most people it likely seems drab and austere, to my eyes eastern Washington is incredibly beautiful. This is the land of my nativity and I think I’ll always be in love with it. There’s a sort of poetry, a sort of romance to the place. Something about the hue of the sunsets, the cadence of the wind, and the seemingly endless sky, perhaps.

Sun setting in Badger Canyon, as seen from Badger Mountain

Sun setting in Badger Canyon, as seen from Badger Mountain. Not a great photographic composition, but a nice simulation of what it’s like to have the sun in your eyes from that low angle!

McNary NWR was surely the least photogenic of the places I visited, mostly due to my not being equipped with a telephoto lens to properly photograph the far-off waterfoul. This picture is the best candidate for “drab” in the bunch, though I think even it has its charm with the decaying road and the twisted slough in the background:

Part of the Burbank Slough at McNary National Wildlife Refuge

Part of the Burbank Slough at McNary National Wildlife Refuge

At McNary there is a bird blind, and inside the blind there were three birders. It was fun just to listen to them talk since they knew their subject well. One of them passed me her binoculars, and I simply sat and watched the mallards and some sort of geese bobbing, diving, taking off, landing on the water, while the wind whipped against cattails and buffeted the window panes.

Looking up the slopes of Badger Mountain

Looking up the slopes of Badger Mountain

At Badger Mountain I ran half of the time as daylight was short. I went up the loop trail on the south side which gave me views of the sunset over Badger Canyon below. After summiting I descended the north face and the winds were icy and fierce, making it hard to breathe and turning my face numb. It felt like a fight for survival (though I’m sure in reality it was not.) By the time I arrived back at my truck parked down below I was simultaneously half-frozen and drenched in sweat, yet I felt deeply satisfied at coming out victorious in my battle with the elements.

If you’d like to support the further conservation and trail development efforts for Badger Mountain and its neighbors, go ahead and donate to Friends of Badger.

Shakespeare and Co Antiquarian Books. (Click for larger image.)

Paris Wall Newspaper
January 1st 2004

Some people call me
the Don Quixote
of the Latin Quarter
because my head
is so far up in the
clouds that I can
imagine all of us are
angels in paradise,
and instead of
being a bonafide
bookseller I am more
like a frustrated

novelist store has
rooms like chapters
in a novel and the
fact is Tolstoi and
Doestoyevski are
more real to me than
my next door neighb-
ors and even stranger
is the fact that even
before I was born
Dostoyevski wrote
the story of my life in
a book called ‘The
Idiot’ and ever since
reading it I have been
search for the

heroine, a girl
called Nastasia
Filipovna. One
hundred years
ago my bookstore
was a wine shop
hidden from the
Seine by an annex
of the Hotel Dieu
hospital which has
since been demolis-
-hed & replaced by
a garden. And

further back in
the year 1600
our whole building
was a monastery
called La Maison
du Mustier. In
medieval times
each monastery
had a frere lampier
whose duty was to
light the lamps at
night. I have been
doing this for fifty
years now it is
my daughter’s
turn.
GW

Upon A Christmas Night

White flakes of snow spun and swirled outside, while the dated heater raged like a jet engine within the apartment. The dishes from the potluck were washed and put away, and the echoes of friends and merriment had faded like the burning sweetness of a glass of eggnog. And he was alone.

The thought of being by himself on Christmas day had never really bothered him much. No, it wasn’t the lack of gifts and bustle, or of Bing Crosby and Bedford Falls, that troubled the man. It was something else, something as hard to pin down as why his ramen and pea soup hadn’t tasted right at dinner—adjusting for the fact that, after all, it was made from ramen and frozen peas.

He could have spent the day with his friend’s family. It would have been fun. But somehow the comforts of a quiet apartment and a cozy, worn old sofa held him in their thrall. He’d expected as much, ever since waking up at almost noon and eating his first meal at two or three o’clock. And it was alright, he thought, because, unlike most people, he thrived on aloneness.

His self-imposed hermitude contrasted strangely with Monday’s enthusiasm for home, family, and friends. The canceled flight hardly dimmed his spirits. After all, it was Christmas! He’d find a way home. But Tuesday at the bus station, with its seemingly-pointless delays and uncomfortably different clientèle, ground down his patience, and, gradually, the process of getting to Washington made him wish more and more that he could just stay in Utah to ride out the holidays in travel-free peace. Leaving behind an endless supply of free pizza (shocking, really), he fled the bus station and returned to Provo.

Yes, there had been a dinner that night, and friends to be with; and yes, the party on Wednesday (Christmas Eve) warmed his heart and filled his stomach; but the pendulum had already swung the other way, and on Christmas he found himself alone.

Alone. On Christmas day. He never thought he’d care.

The snow had all but stopped now, drifting down to earth like a disappointment, and the heater finally fell silent, too. Watching the flakes fall in front of a cloudy, glowing night sky, he contemplated one more attempt to fly home tomorrow. He expected that when (or if) he finally got there, he’d snap out of it, want to be a person again. But he didn’t want to want to.

Oh, and, by the way, the celery seeds ruined the soup.

Note: This is mostly autobiographical. However, on Christmas night I did get to chat with some friends online and go over to Diane’s for a little while. The outcome of return attempt #3 is, of course, still pending, but I think I’ll probably feel a little more like being elsewhere once I’ve actually succeeded in getting there.