Lordy did I need to get out of town.
Pressure has been mounting lately and I needed a release. Luckily Panda was heading over the mountains for a business trip and was gracious enough to take me along. Funny thing about a crisis...you really learn who your friends are. Some deserted me, others became closer to me than I ever thought possible. It's been a really beautiful process where I've learned more about the people around me, and even more about myself.
Saturday was a very early start. After a night of Monarch we drove up to Everett and I played Marketing Manager while being memorized by Panda's Nokia pitch. We headed towards the mountains while the world was still waking and as we crossed over the pass we encountered pretty white stuff falling from the sky.
Lodging was secured after a stupidly long drive into Kennewick and food became the priority. Instead of playing the "what do you want to eat game" I let Panda choose as I was just a tag a long for this trip. Not surprisingly a Chinese food restaurant ended up being our destination and as we walked in right away I knew it wasn't going to be my cup of tea...so to speak.
It was in an old Pizza Hut building complete with the ever present fire pit, having been to expensive to remove apparently, still in the center of the dining room. The smell reminded me of an old pan washed in dirty dishwater from the night before. My food smell like that also. I didn't want to insult Panda, so I ate what was in front of me quickly. Little did I know he was feeling the same way as me and I learned a valuable lesson: shitty food is shitty food and I best speak up about it!
There was a couple sitting behind us talking to the waitress about politics. The man was obviously a regular customer and the waitress began discussing the recent election and how couldn't believe that we elected a man into office who doesn't care about the military. Mentioning that there had already been arrests for implied assassination aspirations, the customer stated "Well, add me to that list!"
We left nauseous, and ended up napping until the afternoon light faded. We spent the evening drinking at various places, making friends with the locals and Panda putting up with my endless drunken rants about life and family.
I awoke in the morning to such a horrible hangover. The likes of which I have never felt and hope to never EVER feel again. My head seemed to split in two, every sound made me want to vomit and a breakfast of eggs was so far from what my stomach wanted that I could hardly keep down the wheat toast. Lots of water, advil and Smart Water later I was able to finally function enough to carry on a normal conversation.
The drive home was upon us and the sun was shinning bright. It was cold, but lovely and the sky was screaming for a ND filter. Alas, I had none for my zoom but the trains didn't mind. I did end up adding a warming filter to this shot in post processing. It is pretty much exactly as my eyes saw the scene around me. I was very reminded of Arizona on this trip and memories of my mom would come flooding to me so strongly that I had to create make shift dams just to keep them at bay.
These shots were all taken off the side of the freeway, down roads leading to homes that seemed to scream meth lab. Locals would just stop in the middle of the road and talk to each other in their cars. It was a bit surreal, and I wondered if they were happy living out there. Ignorance is bliss so I wondered, if they were happy was it because they didn't know any different?
I mentioned this before but I'm a bit enamored with railroad tracks and trains. Not in a "I want to build model trains" way or "texting the conductor" kind of way, but I just find them so lonely. The history that the rails carry makes me ache just a little.
We continued on and off to the side of the road I noticed a paved pathway along the side of the highway in Yakima. Panda obliged my curiosity and pulled into a parking lot for a little walk. I took quite a few pictures, but honestly the memory of that walk was more important to me than I could even express in pictures. My main goal was for Panda to grab some shots of the sunset. It had been a while since he had posted anything on his site and he had been so great in giving me all his time that I wanted to see him indulge in his own passion.
The sun was down by the time we got back to the truck but it's light was still lingering and Mt. Rainer was back lit by the remaining colors. I loved that I was seeing the other side of a mountain that has towered over me for as long as I can remember.
Dinner was had at Outback when we made it back over to the west side of the state. The waitress for another table was talking to her customers and I couldn't help but overhear the conversation. She was a military brat, Irish Catholic who had served her time and decided not to re-enlist as she did not believe in the war and knew she would be deployed to Iraq. It reminded me of the comments from the diner at the Chinese restaurant and showed me the stark contrast between the east side of my state and the west. I was very glad to be back home.