Saturday, July 25, 2009

Farewell Bend

I'm back. It's late. I like all your comments. My friend is the victim of a bad law but he also did a bad thing. Nothing as colorful as bank robbing. It was really hot.

The thing about Farewell bend, on the Snake River, it was the staging ground for the last push overland to the Willamette Valley. That push was leaving the water source behind. I guess the Columbia couldn't be the highway somehow. The Oregon Trail drifted south and ended up with the trail's end at Oregon City.

It begins to blow hard in the evening at Farewell Bend and it doesn't quit until morning. It also doesn't get below 70 because it stays well above 90 most days, even above 100. You would think the mosquitos would get blown away, but then discover that they tack the gusts and maneuver into the always present pockets of still air and can go against the wind in that way. Hungry little buggers.

We had a good tent, good stakes and things were fine. Fifteen bucks got us running water, a bathroom with shower and a place to pitch the tent - grass. A Great Horned Owl set on a dead branch just ten yards from the tent before moving on just after dark. In the middle of the night I had a good look at the Milky Way.

To visit an inmate at Snake River is to sit in a large room like a high school cafeteria, but with low tables and bad chairs. They had us sitting facing into the too bright sun in a walled and razor wired courtyard, with no plants in it at all. The windows had no curtains. Off to the back the few inmates with discipline problems that still let them have visitors talked to their visitors by intercom through glass. This is how we visited with Steve when he was in the county jail prior to his prison sentence.

We talked about many things in our two visit sessions, then rushed back so that Sunday's celebration and farewell to a man going to study engineering in Mexico can be well organized. My cat seems glad I didn't run away from home.


  1. Sad for your friend to be learning some lessons in that environment. Any one of us could be in that position if pushed enough. Camping with a tent and an available shower does give you the opportunity to connect to nature such as the owl. Would you have noticed the owl if you had not been in the tent? Sounds like you had a good trip overall.

  2. allas Athene (or Minerva to the Romans), the goddess of wisdom, honored the owl as her sacred bird. The owl was recognized as an emblem of penetrating sight and intelligence. It was considered to be a favorable omen if an owl was spotted on the battle field or at times of crisis. The Athenian silver tetradrachm bore the owl (Athene noctua); and owls were protected and thrived in great numbers at the Acropolis of Athens (a temple dedicated to Athena).

  3. There's nothing like a skyview when there are no manmade lights to compete. It always makes me feel so humanly small yet connected to wonder.

    Glad you're back.

  4. Techno, losing eighteen years is not learning a lesson. That loss is something different. It is the statement made by society that you are not wanted or valued for what you have done. That same message is basically taught by much of the warehousing procedures, which are impersonally humane but never designed for catering specifically to individual wants or needs. People with true special needs may not fare very well in prison. It is in this realm that the struggle for survival continues for the inmates, how to stay themselves in the face of such institutionalized depersonalization.

    Camping requires developing skills in alternative personal hygiene routines. What I notice is the realignments of time that must be given to maintain just the basics of life. So the pleasure of camping is also the increase and return of the pleasures of home life.

    I couldn't see the owl well enough to really appreciate it. It was a large bundle of something to me, but then it dropped off the branch on which it had perched and I realized that I was seeing the critter after all. There were mourning doves, all sorts of songbirds, and there were pelicans on the Snake.

    The dive was taken in a Toyota Camry Hybrid. A very nice car and we got almost 37 miles to the gallon.

  5. Ghost, my friend Francesca pointed out that to see a Great Horned Owl like that portends an approaching demise, so it is good to have another counter proposal, however there was no battle or crisis, or at least I was oblivious to any of that. Or maybe an approaching demise is a good omen :)

    Karen, I try to see the sky in more than one way. You can look at it with modern eyes, knowing the back story of galaxy formation and all that, trying for the multidimensions offered by science that now includes some very odd notions, and you can try to stand in the shoes of the best of the ancients, remembering for example, that the skies of the astrologers were every bit as full of stuff as the skies of the wanderers in the hills and not different from the sky visible at Farewell Bend. Under these skies, the emigrants to the west coast looked on the Snake River and readied themselves for the final push along the Oregon Trail.

  6. well chosen words and sentiments and fine reflections on complexity and braided lives;

    been swamped for a while, but have been reading and appreciating,,,thanks.

  7. India
    In southern India, the cries of an Owl were interpreted by number: One hoot was an omen of impending death; two meant success in anything that would be started soon after; three represented a woman being married into the family; four indicated a disturbance; five denoted coming travel; six meant guests were on the way; seven was a sign of mental distress; eight foretold sudden death; and nine symbolized good fortune.

    Polish folklore links Owls with death. Girls who die unmarried turn into doves; girls who are married when they die turn into Owls.

    An owl cry heard in or near a home usually meant impending death, sickness, or other misfortune. An old story tells how the Owl does not come out at during the day because it is too beautiful, and would be mobbed by other, jealous birds.

    The goddess of death, Lilith, was attended by Owls.

    In Hebrew lore the Owl represents blindness and desolation and is unclean.

    When Christian soldiers entered his temple, the local pagan god flew away as an Owl.

    Owls join witches to dance on the graves of the dead.

    The Owl makes the cold North wind whilst the gentle South wind is made by the butterfly.

    The Little Owl was called "messenger of the lord of the land of the dead", and flew between the land of the living and the dead.

    Middle East
    The Owl represents the souls of people who have died unavenged.

    Hunters carry Owl claws so that, if they are killed, their souls can use them to climb up to Heaven. Tartar shaman of Central Russia could assume Owl shapes.

    Kalmucks hold the Owl to be sacred because one once saved the life of Genghis Khan.

    Legend has it that the Owl was once the sweetest of singers, until it saw Jesus crucified. Ever since it has shunned daylight and only repeats the words 'cruz, cruz' ('cross, cross').

    O O

  8. Hmmm, see how many cross reference death in some way??

    Chicken little was right.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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