195 from Coulee Damn to Soap Lake turned out to be one of the coolest drives on this trip. It goes by Coulee Lake, created when the dam flooded the valley. There are lower mesas and mesas that turned into islands. On the other side, the canyon is dry and you can see how large and deep it is. We drive through the canyon floor, enchanted by the landscape. It looks like Wyoming or Utah.
After 195, it's Rt. 17 and then 395, the highway that goes all the way to Southern California.
Over the Columbia River, through Richland, then over the River again after it makes the hairpin turn to go west out to the Pacific. Through Umallia to Pendleton ("Is that where Pendleton shirts came from?" "You keep asking me that. I don't know." "Well, make something up!") and then south again. We will be on 395 for a looooong time.
The eastern part of Oregon is made of plains and bits of forest. Lots of farming. Lots of grazing. There are big parcel ranches -- we've seen them in ranch real estate magazines -- and more little towns placed sporadically along the way.
After Lakeview, we enter California. A night in Alturas at a motel run by a Thai family (not East Indians!) and more forgettable Mexican food, then it's on to Carson City, where Big Dog's niece and her family live.
Carson City is still on 395. It's a suburb of Reno is pretty much like suburbs all over California. But this is Nevada. The Sierras loom close by. It must be walling in the heat from the deserts to the east because it's HOT, HOT, HOT. It's good to see K. and her family, but we want to get back to the ranch before the weekend brings higher prices and more people so the next morning, we are essing our way up and over the Sierras, stopping in Arnold for lunch with an old friend of Big Dog's, and then back through the San Joaquin Valley to…ahhhh…the coast. Oh, how I missed you! Oh, how I missed your temperate climate! Oh, how I missed my own simple, fresh, down-to-earth, everything-from-scratch cooking!!
Until this summer, I still thought of myself as being "homeless." Not homeless homeless like really homeless people -- I mean, we DO have a roof over our heads most of the time -- but just not having a real home. "Home" is as much a psychological concept as it is a dwelling. Now, I can feel that The Ranch is slowly becoming "home" in my heart and in my mind. It's a little frightening, but I suppose I can get used to it. Especially now that it is Peach Paradise.