Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 15

NaBloPoMo 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Describe a favorite place. Focus on how that place affects your sense of taste, touch, sight, sound, or smell.

I have lots of favorite places, but I'll pick what's (probably) my most favorite-ist of them all.

The name of the place is Flagstaff Hill, and it's just outside the town I grew up in. It's a part of the Oregon Trail, and before the Interpretive Center was built, was something that unless a person knew where (or even what) it was, s/he could drive right on past and never know it; if one knew where it was, one could jump the fence and walk on the trail, provided one knew enough to be able to identify any and all snakes and didn't mind breaking the rules that said "don't jump the fence." I've only been to the Interpretive Center once, but I like to remember the place as it was, because that's what sticks in my memory, which is what I'll describe.

But first, a little background. So, the Oregon Trail is something that is taught in grade school as part of the whole Western Migration process. But there's just something about actually LIVING in a place that was part of that, and being able to take it for granted. It wasn't until much later in my life, after I'd moved away from it, that I really understood what that trail meant.

For some, it was a new beginning. For others, a chance for a better life.
I don't know if I'dve had the fortitude to endure that journey. I do know it was not easy terrain to endure, especially not the stretch I lived in. The travelers would have just gotten through Hells Canyon (aptly named) on the Idaho/Oregon border, to come up to Flagstaff Hill, just to see ONE. MORE. FREAKING. MOUNTAIN. RANGE. I've wondered how many wives looked at their husbands and said, "We came ALL THIS WAY FOR THIS!??!?!?!?" Although Oregon was known as the land of Milk & Honey, it must have been so disheartening to see all that sagebrush and more mountains. Once they got across that last mountain range (the Blue Mountains) though, the landscape changes from the harshness of the high desert to a more temperate place.

For me, though, that stark, unforgiving harshness is beautiful.

It's a barren place, yet not. There is beauty in the sagebrush that covers the ground, and it's so quiet that I can hear the wind blowing and my heart beating. The view is beyond incredible. Down the hill are the well-worn wagon wheel ruts, and in the distance is the valley proper, protected on the other side by the Blue Mountains. I feel peaceful here, and can appreciate the way my thoughts slow down. The tangy smell of the sagebrush fills the air, and I wish that I didn't ever have to leave, because this place, this magical place, is more home to me than anywhere else I've ever been. The absolute stillness of the place is both mesmerizing and unsettling, but yet inviting and a perfect foil to the busy life that awaits just down the hill.

Picture from: City Data

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