My wife and I traveled across the great state of Washington last weekend to table at Spokane’s LGBT pride festival. We tabled last year and had such a blast (seriously… I think Spokane’s pride fest is awesome) and couldn’t wait to go back this year. The day of pride it was 40 degrees (cold!) and raining buckets (nonstop!) and was generally miserable. We had fun talking to everyone who braved the weather, but at the end of the day we were soaked, freezing and miserable. Thankfully, the day after was warm and sunny, so we got to take a nice leisurely drive back, and I took a lot of fun pictures (and my wife made a lot of u-turns on the highway so I could go take pictures of stuff I saw).
Washington is an interesting state. On the western third, we have rainforests and the Puget Sound. It’s gray and drizzly most of the year, and the landscape is lush and green. Gardens pepper backyards and community plots. There are ferry boats, farmers markets, independent coffee shops, a mild climate, and lots of hills. The other two-thirds of the state, on the eastern side of the cascades, is flat, dry, and windy. There are 4 distinct seasons (sunny warm summers! snowy cold winters!). And a lot of country western radio stations and large-scale commercial farms.
When I was little and I’d head over the mountains to visit my extended family (and I have a lot of family in Eastern Washington) I thought it was a miserable place. Hot and dry and smelling of cow poop. The only time I liked to go over the mountains when I was young was in the winter when we would go ski into the cabin my great-uncle built in the Wentachee Forest.
But that was then. And this is now. And it has taken years, but I have fallen in love with the eastern side of Washington. I love romping through sagebrush in the dry heat. I love the wind whipping my hair around. I love watching snow flurries come down with no promise of stopping their wild dance. My roots go deep in the eastern side of the state.
Now, when I cross the cascades, the minute the landscape turns flat, I turn on whatever country music I can find on the stereo (and if I can find Cash, Williams or Cline I get the biggest grin). And then I dream of my wife and I buying a few acres out in the dry flat land. we’ll plant some vegetables, and have a small orchard and a few rescued farm animals perusing the place. I will sit on the porch in a little sun-dress and cowboy boots, showing off my full sleeve tattoos (this always seems very important in my day-dream…) and drinking unsweetened ice tea. My wife is working the vegetable plots, and I am subverting one of the most annoying country songs ever by singing “I think her tractor’s sexy” at the top of my lungs, because no one can hear me in our little plot of land.