Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

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Retracing Ancient Dramatic Events

   ( Beginning of this Adventure )

Thursday, May 25th - Next stop on my agenda was to to see some old friends in Seattle. I'd meant to leave the Kettle Falls area earlier but like a river caught behind a glacial ice dam, we pooled in the Kettle Falls interpretive center too long, so it was around 1pm when I finally got on the road. Doug was concerned that some of the roads I intended to take might be snowed in, which was a novel thought, but we checked online and they were all open. I was also thrilled that this trip would require almost no retracing my steps or roads I'd ever been on before.

   The road took me down along the broad Columbia river, surrounded by pine forest and only occasional habitations. At one point I passed a ferry landing where a small ferry was loading cars, and at another there was a small townlet in a hairpin turn in the road that was gone in the blink of an eye (looking at the map that must be Hunters, population 306, "a focal point of the surrounding smaller communities" according to wikipedia). After about an hour of following the river I came to where the river Spokane joined the Columbia, and here, just over the bridge, I saw signs of Fort Spokane historical site. I pulled off here and drove into the parking area. The area was sort of a broad meadow overlooking the rivers, with a few restored wooden buildings. Other than the highway there was very little of the modern world in sight. I would dearly have liked to get out and look around but looking at the time I knew I had to keep moving if I was going to make dinner in Seattle with my friends. So I had to continue rushing down the river valley like a jökulhlaup.
   Shortly after leaving the fort the road turned west and no longer followed the river. The land opened up from hilly forests to broad fields of wheat and prairie. A few more small towns here with names like Wilbur (claim to fame: crop circles reported nearby) and Creston (claim to fame, last surviving member of Butch Cassidey's gang shot here in 1902) with giant grain silos towering over them. After about an hour of sailing along the quiet and straight highway through waves of grain, I came back to the bedammed river at Coulee City, and a very long dam was clearly visible above the town which I assumed was THE famous dam, but no I see "the" Coulee dam which had flooded so much upriver is actually located upriver a bit at the city of Grand Coulee, which I had bypassed (or rather it would have been out of my way). In actual fact I just realized looking at the map that this wasn't the Columbia river here at Coulee City at all but some other river, the Columbia splitting off above here. It's highly weird and unusual for a river to split in two directions going downstream!
   It turns out the gorge chewed through the landscape by the Missoula Floods in the Ice Age is not exactly the course of the Columbia River, and this seeming river valley south of the city of Grand Coulee is that ancient riverbed, the Grand Coulee itself. The Coulee riverbed was dry in modern times until the Grand Coulee dam was built, the one that flooded everything up river, and water is pumped from it through the rest of the Coulee riverbed to irrigate farms downriver. The more you know!

   All I knew at the time was that my GPS wanted me to take a road south here to connect to the boring looking interstate 90 running between Seattle and Spokane, and I wasn't having it. Despite my hurry, it didn't add to much time to stay on on the same two lane highway I'd been on (the 2) headed West into the mountains.
   Just across the Coulee I pulled into a turnout with a grand view into the "channeled scablands" of the Coulee valley, not that I was quite sure what I was looking at but it was nice. Through rising prairie farmland again for another half hour, then following a river south for a ten minutes which I didn't realize is the Columbia again (can't get away from this thing!), across a bridge and immediately into mountains! The road corkscrewed up a narrow valley beside a rushing mountain stream and eventually passed a faux bavarian alpine village and ski resorts. There was only a very light amount of snow at the level of the highway though.
   And then gradually descending the other side the mountains unwind and peter out and I found myself coming into the Seattle metropolitan area and big highways with rush-hour traffic! As it happens it wasn't actually that bad and my friend Mike (xaositecte) lived on the East side of the city, from which I was approaching (for those who know the city, his address was in Kirkland, for those, like me, that don't, it's separated from downtown by a large lake)

   Mike I know from Model United Nations (MUN), (we figured out he was in my committee at a conference in Vegas circa 2003 where I was representing Libya (despite having a green mohawk at the time), and filled my speeches with fiery quotes from the Quran (which I had in hand as I was taking an Islamic Scriptures class). Mike previously lived in Portland (or rather the "Vancouver" thats just beside PDX), and I think last time I saw him was when I crashed at his place the night before first joining the tallship Lady Washington there in 2009. He is, I believe, some kind of (software?) engineer, and his wife/and/or/girlfriend is a teacher (I really should take notes I suppose, given my memory). He had an adorable dog that I feel like was a pit / corgi cross or something? Is that a thing?
   We had made dinner plans with another MUN friend, Sameer, nearby. Sameer and I were jointly in charge of the America Pacific (Ampac) conference in Southern California in 2007. I was the Secretary-General, which in most MUN organizations would be the highest position, but this organization, PAXMUN, had Governor-Generals whose duties were supposed to be more over-arching while the SG was supposed to be in charge of more of the details. As it happens, Sameer appeared to totally not remember that he had tried to fire me (but failed because he tried to do so by email during a PAXMUN conference I was present at, along with all the board, and he was not, so they were very easily persuaded that I shouldn't be fired). Despite that we got along alright with no hard feelings, after all this is MUN, intrigue is in our blood, and diplomacy is the name of the game.
   Shortly after our conference, a coup d'etat had taken place on the board, wherein a certain power-hungry member (whom I shall name because their perfidy should stick to them, it was Mary McKenzie of one of the San Diego universities) through maneuvering (Sameer finally filled me in on a number of the sordid details during dinner) managed to fire the chairman of the board and other key opponents, and then went about cleaning house and in a flood of blacklisting got rid of most staff associated with the old regime, including my humble self (Sameer survived another year just because Governor-Generals had multi year appointments), and... did something new and shiny rise from this dripping scoured desolation? No she managed to run PAXMUN right into the ground in a stunning nosedive that saw it completely cease to be an organization within two years. Its a real shame -- I probably would have ceased being involved anyway since I had just graduated college, but its a shame its gone because it ran most of the big conferences in the the Southwestern United States (Ampac in LA, Amwest in Vegas, Amsouth in New Orleans, and several smaller ones) and Mary destroyed it like a toddler smashing a toy just to see what'll happen.
   Anyway, Sameer, Mike and I had a grand old time reminiscing about the antedeluvian days of yore. Sameer had gone on to run a Seattle based conference that he's still involved in to this day.

   Mike had a guest room so I didn't even have to sleep on a couch AND, a true hero of the people, he made biscuits and gravy and bacon for breakfast (he seemed particularly outraged when I described the lack of real bacon in Australia and valiantly brought forth some very high quality delicious bacon). And then as he headed off to work in the bright morning light I was headed north to a land of beautiful seaside towns I had visited during my life as a sailor and... ex girlfriends ::dramatic fade::


Tags: america, drama, epic roadtrip 2017, mun, roadtrips, sameer, travel, travelogues, washington state, xaositecte

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