Last weekend, we drove – with Aston and Eileen – to Boise Idaho to see Ophelia and Peter for Ophelia’s birthday. It is a trip that I have never made but – in the map of my mind’s eye – I thought that Winnemucca would be about two thirds of the way. I sort of picture Idaho as being over Nevada and Oregon as being over California. In reality, Eastern Oregon is over a big hunk of Nevada and, after going north from Winnemucca deep into Oregon, one is then required to go east to Boise. It turns out that Winnemucca is about the halfway point and the drive, north and then east, takes on the qualities of a Are we there, yet? atmosphere.
I mean Are we there, yet? in the best possible way. This is the kind of country that I love to drive through – just to drive through – even without the reward of Peter and Ophelia at the other end. The drive was a delight for us. It was photo-less interstate driving all the way to Winnemucca where we made a right to head north into Oregon. (Winnemucca is in the Humboldt Basin in the Great Basin meaning that everything drains to the Humboldt Sink rather than some ocean.) Heading north, we slowly climbed out of the Basin running along side Santa Rosa Range.
The land is more Drylands than Desert with dry grass and soft mountains. While we are still in the Basin, the land is spotted with small farms and ranches. Not small in size but small in the amount of money that can be eked out. As we go north, the ranches become even more hardscrapple and the land becomes more dramatic. This is Red Country, independent and poor, not acknowledging that they are grazing their cattle on our – the American people’s – land.
We leave Nevada with the de rigueur casino where we have an early lunch and try our hand at the penny slots (Michele won five cents which she then lost on the nickel machine),
then we drive out of the Basin and through the high Drylands of Easter Oregon where the living is even more scrapple.
Then, down into the Owyhee River Basin – which drains into the Snake River and then into the Pacific Ocean – which seems both richer and more dramatic,
and into Idaho where we got a celebratory cup of coffee – technically a capuccino, in my case – knowing we only had 41 miles to go.
From there it was through the Owyhee Mountains where we can look down into the Snake River Basin and, then, it is an easy hop to Boise where we go for a walk along the actual – flowing to the sea – Snake River.
To be continued…