Round Table: On the drive from college, not just another roadside attraction

I think there’s a connection between the fact that I learned you can see snow-capped peaks from Eugene on Sunday and a phone hang-up I got on Monday.

See if I can work this out...

We drove Delaney back to University of Oregon after Thanksgiving Break; it took exactly three hours, including a stop for gas and a rest stop. Lorre did the driving from Wilsonville on — the southern stretch of the Hood River-Eugene route. That let me rubberneck out the window at the mid-Willamette Valley landscape in the region near where I grew up in Albany, the afternoon sun filling the landscape and glistening off the lakes, the streams... and the trucker bombs.

You’ve seen them on the roadsides: soft drink bottles, milk jugs and other containers, used by truckers to relieve themselves, “on the fly” as it were. I saw one every five miles or so, and a pile of about six of them near Harrisburg. Did some guy save them up and then drop them in the same spot? What would be the point?

But the great part of the trip was long views we had of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters peaks. Hood is so big and close enough that people are used to seeing it from anywhere in The Dalles-Canby arc.

In the Willamette Valley, it’s unusual to see Mt. Jefferson, and more so those Sisters, because of the combination of distance from the freeway and typical fog or haze from Woodburn south. This time, the Sisters stood clear and they looked remarkably close; a thorough covering of snow made the three Ladies look like brides.

We headed back out of Eugene after saying our goodbyes to Delaney outside his residence hall. (A new-college-dad insight I’ve gained is they aren’t really called “dorms“ anymore.) Heading to the beltway onramp, I looked ahead to my right and to my surprise saw the Three Sisters again — well, two of them: the South and Middle from that angle obscure the North. So this south valley city I am starting to get to know unveiled that small and pleasant surprise. My mental picture of Eugene as river-and-valley town now has a new angle. It reminded me of the time, 14 summers ago when we moved to Hood River, coming down from Laurance Lake and seeing Hood, Adams, St. Helens AND Rainier from the same vantage point for the first time. It was a small but beautiful revelation.

So the connection to the abrupt phone call? I think I found it, and it’s all about what we allow ourselves to see, if the conditions are right and we look up from our shoelaces once in a while: a guy who did not give his name called with a question that soon turned to a complaint. He had read our Kaleidoscope of last week on companies that deal with bark beetle-infested trees and wanted to get in touch with them. He named the companies, WyEast Timber and Braun Consulting and said, “Do you have their phone numbers?” I told him I did not at my fingertips and was about to assent to “good-point-we-might-have-published-them-in-the-story ...” when he blurts, “Well, real nice, you print their advertisement and then don’t even have their phone number.” And hangs up.

Of course, it was an article and NOT an ad, but yes, we might have printed the contact information. And something tells me he might have been having a rough day in general. That said, if the gentleman who called me is reading this, I really was planning to help put you in touch, but since you hung up with such alacrity it’s also fair to point out that you knew the names of the companies and yourself could have looked up the numbers, right?

I’ve looked in different directions and seen things I had never noticed before. Literally and figuratively I like to think about snow-draped Three Sisters, not trucker bombs. I just hope that unhappy caller found a way to help with the infestation.



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