In a perfect world, today I would have rented a motel room in Connell, Washington and picked out spots up and down Highway 395 to take photographs. In a really perfect world, I would have had a 360 degree lens and been able to make visible in a permanent way the panorama of colors, cloud formations, mixtures of cloud and sunshine, incoming weather patterns, and slowly encroaching darkness that the Palouse afforded travellers today.
Then I would have rented another room in Boardman, Oregon or in Rufus, Oregon and travelled up and down I-84, between the I-82 interchange and The Dalles and done the same thing.
My favorite color is gray. I love gray's mutedness. Driving today in mostly gray conditions, until darkness fell, meant no strain on the eyes. When sun rays tried to break through the gray, they formed slanted lines that made me think of what I thought God looked like when I was a young boy.
What's more, the slate clouds occasionally opened up close to the horizon and starting at about 2:30 or so, a long sunset emerged. North of Kennewick, the sky was a theater of scratchy rain falling miles away to the east, magenta clouds over pale blue sky over tan hillocks to the west, puffy cumulus clouds both ivory and darkening gray to the south, but picking up the surrounding faint purples and pinks.
If ever a person doubted the existence of multiple realities occuring at the same moment, all a person had to do was stop and observe this almost chaotic Palouse sky and see multiple weather fronts, a variety of colors, and the assertion and recession of the sun all happening simultaneously.
I felt awed.
Later, as I drove along the Columbia River, the tawny mounds on the north side of the Columbia seemed like screens for color slides as they absorbed and reflected the purples, yellows, and reds from the sky. These mounds amaze me each time I drive east or west on I-84 in the way they are never the same color, as if they are never the same mounds. I have seen the color of these mounds range from deep purple to faint green to reddish-brown to light tan and have even seen them seem black, depending on the light and what's going on in the sky.
How would a person determine what color these mounds really are? They don't have a color aside from what the atmosphere and weather and light conditions around them dictate.
I have to say, that once past The Dalles and moving on toward and beyond Hood River, I find the scenery more spectacular (water falls, evergreens, rugged rock formations, the lower regions of the Cascade mountains to the south starting to rise from the Gorge, and, on a clear day, a magnificent view of Mt. Hood), but not as interesting.
Tonight, in fact, I hated being in this rain forest climate. For about fifteen to twenty miles the rain fell in huge black bullets; it was as if the dark sky itself was raining upon the freeway. I was deeply grateful to the semis on the road. I perched myself behind a couple of them which helped keep my speed reasonable and helped me see. I was disappointed when they had to leave the freeway for a weigh station. I had to go solo for a while, but caught up to other cars and never passed them so that I could navigate this downpour more safely.
The hardest part of returning to Eugene is leaving Kellogg.
The second hardest part, in the winter, is driving during such short days.
In a perfect world, the sun moving low in the winter sky and the slate condition of the sky and all its colorful change would last for twelve to fourteen hours a day instead of for about nine hours.
Or, in a really perfect world, I'd have all the time I wanted to get back to Eugene and could spend only the daylight hours driving, with long photo stops, and would relax along the way, blogging in motel rooms, posting pictures, never worrying about when I got back to Eugene or to work.