Clark and Lewis

After a full week of overcast skies, Susanne and I decided to venture away from the Walla Walla Valley, hoping that we could pierce the cloud layer and see the sun. Now then, there are three ways out of the city, in basically a T formation: Highway 12 runs east-west at the north of town, and Highway 125 runs due south, toward Oregon. We headed east toward the little village of Waitsburg, remembering that it has a cute, pioneer town quality and gives one a chance to take in the Blue Moutains, which were considerably more snow-capped after this weekend than before. The drive was nice enough, although we didn’t escape the clouds. Given that the east coast was caught up in yet another heavy snowfall, neither one of us was too grouchy about our own weather, depressing and blase as it was.

We were curious to see a small crowd of people waving at us as we came into town—”city center” would be an overstatement, as the downtown is two blocks long and one street wide. I smiled, thinking they looked happy and small-towny, until I saw the signs they were waving. “She regrets her abortion,” one declared. I started looking for an arrow to one of the women, a la the “I’m With Stupid” t-shirts that were popular among the geek set 20 years ago, but it did dawn on me that they meant some proverbial, collective “she.”

I was not amused. I’m coming to your town, presumably to spend dollars in one of the 9 stores you house and you’re going to alienate me with pictures of aborted fetuses? Not such a smooth move, Waitsburg.

I contemplated sharing my disappointment with the throng-ette. Susanne knew where my brain was going, and helped me ascertain that expressing my opinion would probably not make the situation any better. I turned, blinker on, and drove into downtown, because I am a good liberal who follows proper traffic laws. So there, anti-choice, sign-carrying people!

We moseyed along the main street, stopping in to a curious antique store that had old Coca-Cola bottles, snowshoes, and kitchen ware, as if someone cleaned out his grandmother’s house and opened up a store with everything he’d found, minus the linoleum, but not the kitchen sink, which sat in a corner in the back room. I suppose any copper pipe he’d stripped had already sold, because that stuff goes fast.

We happened along a creek with a Lewis & Clark sculpture in front of it. It clearly was modeled after the countless “Lewis & Clark” highway markers that dot the roadways out here, in the still-wild west. My question erupted out of my brain and through my mouth.

“I always wonder which one is which.”

As we passed the sign, I turned and saw the back, as well as my answer:

Lewis and Clark signQuestion answered.

Finishing our short walk, still out of the sun’s light, we ambled back to the car and drove out of town. I flipped off the line of activists, figuring it would give them renewed energy to hold their signs proudly in the rain.

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Categories: driving, transplanted

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