Trip Start Jun 26, 2006
8Trip End Aug 30, 2006
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In Paisley, Oregon, life is conducted from a pickup truck.
Paisley, which optimistically boasts a population of 250 people, in my estimation holds two pickup trucks for every adult of driving age-16 years old in the USA.
The reason for this proliferation of trucks is mostly practical. Paisley sits on the border of the forest and the desert. The people who work in the forest need a truck's horsepower to navigate bumpy roads and power up steep hills. The people who work in the desert, ranchers for example, need the long bed of the truck to haul feed, ropes, equipment
But like many other practical goods that humanity has turned in to hobbies-let's think about shoes and cell phones-the pickup truck is also an avocation.
People drive their new pickups in the yearly town parade; put campaign magnets on the sides for local elections; discuss any refurbishments with the fervor and interest of sport fans; and, when they see a friend while driving down the road, roll down their windows and brake to a halt to say howdy.
My family is a good example. My father keeps one pickup in Alaska, for work (and last summer I drove a borrowed one while visiting) and one pickup here in Oregon. The Alaska pickup is for transporting building materials and diving gear; the Oregon truck is a labor of love. It has the body of a 1958 GMC 1-ton flat-bed pickup, now painted a cherry red, and a sturdy black metal lumber rack that my uncle in Eugene (whose household has at least two pickups now, plus a Jeep) welded for him.
A few years ago Dad had a friend replace the original, overworked engine with that of a newer model-a 1970s service pickup truck he and my mother drove down from Alaska
In the days I've been back in Oregon, my family and I have been doing the standard Paisley activities, mostly for the benefit of visiting friends. We've been out on the desert walking around looking for old signs of the Indians who lived in this basin for hundreds of years, when it was a lush marsh not a cattle-roamed desert. We've gone to the river every day to sit on rocks in our swimsuits and drink beer. We've rolled up into the mountains for views of the desert and close-ups of wildflowers. We've been to my family's piece of desert, a canyon my parents bought a few years ago. We've gone up into the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge to look at the placid antelope and sit in the outdoor hot springs before the sun rose too high. Today we'll probably go do some target practice. Next week my mother's side of the family comes to visit-grandma, aunts, uncles and three generations of cousins. We'll probably spend some time with them up in the mountains at some lakes for picnics, and out on the desert looking for rabbits, sandhill cranes, antelope and deer.
Next three weeks: Paisley Oregon. Next stop: Perth, Australia. Goal: Foshan, China.