Welcome to Touch It

Let’s start with a poll. How would you pronounce the following word: Touchet. Would you say:

Too-SHAY, as in the French

TUH-shee, as in one’s derriere

TOUCH-it, if you were pretending not to understand French pronounciation

TOO-shee, just to put that option in the list (read, I have nothing witty to say about this)


If you picked the last choice, you win! The town of Touchet, Washington, is pronounced TOO-shee. Susanne and I wondered about “touch it” because we had driven through Havre, Montana, on the way into town, which the locals pronounce “HAVE-er. French, what’s that? No worries, they can call their villages whatever they like. Just don’t expect that out-of-towners will have any clue how to replicate the name.



Paper Mill

Paper Mill

Driving on Route 12 through Touchet toward the setting sun, you will at some point intersect the very pretty Columbia River. Unfortunately for the river, near the port of Walla Walla sits a paper mill and a slaughterhouse. For olfactory reasons I refuse to slow down long enough to investigate which of these creates the smell I am about to describe, or if there is some awful marriage of odors that creates such a cesspool of particulate that hangs in the air on the roadway, waiting for people to drive through, like an ambush of molecules. For there I am, traveling at 60 mph, looking at the pretty river and the still-fascinating windmill towers lined up on the tops of the hills, and then it hits me. It’s like three tons of broccoli were allowed to slowly rot and decay, the green of the flowerettes turning yellow and then brown, liquefying in a mass of death and abandonment. Paper mill my ass. I call it the Bad Broccoli plant, because honestly, it doesn’t smell like turned lettuce or sausage or groundhog. It’s bad broccoli. We make sure to shut off the air conditioning, close the windows, and then we cross our fingers and hope for the best.


And yes, it’s the only road out of town in that direction. So perhaps I should call it the Bad Broccoli Plant of Inevitability.

Tags: , , ,

Categories: driving, transplanted


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One Comment on “Welcome to Touch It”

  1. Robin H.
    October 4, 2008 at 11:56 am #


    Sorry to hear abour your knee. Hope all goes well.

    When we visit Louisiana to see my husband’s family, I have the pleasure of experiencing the wonderful scent of papermills. Your description nails it. However, I’ve never been “blessed” with the slaughterhouse smell experience.

    BTW, your former office computer was “borrowed”. Who knows where it went.

    Looking forward to future posts!


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