I'm back in New Orleans, so now Dad's travelling in that bus, all alone. Here's what he has to say:
August 19 -- the first day that I felt better, so late in the afternoon I took the bus down to the central part of the city, bought a lot of books -- especially at a store specializing in crime fiction with every Michael connelly, James lee Burke, and Lee Child novel ever written. Ended up at the huge Pike street market where I bought a dozen west coast oysters and three huge Dungeness crabs for a good old Louisiana oysters- on -the - half shell and boiled crab dinner. A great meal if I do say so myself.
August 20-21 Craig mitchell's parents, brothers, sister-in-law, and nephews flew in for two weeks so suddenly we had 11 people and a dog in the house. Lots of fun! Recovering from my backaches, I spent half a day in the Seattle Museum of art, where not only did they have a Cranach version of "Leda and the Swan" but also a Kurt Cobain and Andy Warhol show --not to mention a fine collection of Northwest Native American arts and crafts.
The Asian Art Museum on Capital Hill sits in the middle of a beautiful park surrounded in turn by some of Seattle's most impressive houses. My favorite parts of the museum were the Hiroshige paintings of rural scenes and the modern art room filled with striking paintings composed by various artists from the school of Murakami. After dinner chez Les Mitchells, I had a bottle of wine with an old friend outside the Calcutta room at the Newcastle Golf Club, which overlooks the whole city of Seattle.
After a leisurely morning with Missy and her family, I took the ferry from south Seattle to Vachon island where I spent the night with Billy Plauche, his wife Ashley, and their two sons. They took me all over the island. We stopped at a number of farms along the way and ended up, after snacking on calamari an hour before dinner, having an amazing meal of mussels, shrimp, and salad at their house stuck right up against 400 acres of forest in the middle of the island. Besides his involvement in making BP pay up, Billy is the lawyer for the mollusk industry on the west coast, which makes him a great person to know.
August 23rd. Said goodbye to Ashley and the boys, then two hours later toMissy Dinkins, her husband Craig
Mitchell, his parents, his brothers, their famies, and the West Coast -- all of which I came to love. Drove over the Cascade Range on Hwy. 90 and then took 97 to wenatchee, Washington where I stayed with Bindu Manuel Nayak, her husband, and their three children. Wenatchee calls itself "the Apple Capital of the World." Even though it's on the edge of the desert, the Columbia and Wenatchee rivers meet there, allowing lots of irrigation for the orchards. Bindu took
me to dinner. It was great seeing her and catching up with her life as well as hashing over ESA matters and medical theories. She's an endocrinologist married to a cardiologist -- a family good for just about anything that ails someone from south Louisiana.
A long day driving all the way to Missoula , Montana, where I met my daughter Isabelle and some of her friends including Emile Legendre -- both of whom had just arrived , ready to start another school year at the University of Montana. Dinner consisted of buffalo meat, hot dogs, and Cold Smoke ale from the great Kettle House Brewery.
August 26 waiting around Missoula for Rocky Mountain Diesel to take a good look at the bus in preparation for the Big Drive East to New Hampshire, where I have a wedding Sept. 25th. But there's a festival here this
weekend starring Robert Earl Keene, one of my favorites, so I will stick around until Sunday.
Brett goodell hosted a gathering that I attended with Isabelle and Emile Legendre. Brett lives in a house with some other rugby players -- big, friendly guys who know how to party
Like some of us did in our animal house days of yore. The usual sorts of excesses took place with much singing, laughing, and yelling. Isabelle and I left early, around mIdnight, but not so early that we did not have some regrets the next day.
MIssoula has a great open market on Saturday. So IsabelleI and i bought some vegetables and buffalo meat for my trip east. But the big event was the River Roots festival which featured Robert Earl Keene. He didn't disappoint, playing lots of new songs with his really good Austin band. He's quit drinking and looks better than he has in 20 years; but he still finished off with a few of his big hits from his salad days. The audience all chimed in when, in "gringo honeymoon," he sings of an American refugee in Mexico who abandoned his wife and family and lives in a "little one-room shack" who, when asked of his plans, answers, "I ain't never going back." the other line that the crowd loved is "the road goes on forever and the party never ends.". The song actually is about a couple who get involved in a drug deal. The guy gord to the gas chamber because he took the fall for the girl who shot a policeman but she ends up with all the money. So the moral of the song is more than a bit ambiguous but the guys didn't care.
the bus is in the best shape that I've ever seen it, thanks to the guys from Rocky Mountain Diesel. It charges up hills (well, a lot of them, anyway) and travels about 10 mph faster than previously. So I will try to make 1800 miles from Missoula to Ann Arbor by the fifth of september (which i previously deemed impossible) in order to meet the Pyenson family who will reunite there on Labor Day weekend. Left Missoula and Isabelle who has her first day of classes on Monday.
Drove on interstate 90 down to Columbus, Montana. Camped at a city park there by the Yellowstone River. A big storm came in that night and I was glad to sleep blissfully and securely on the bus.
Continued on 90 (which goes all the way to the Atlantic). Drove through Billings in a downpower until Sheridan, Wyoming, where the weather began to clear off. This region, the Bighorn Mountain Range of course was made famous by General Custer's defeat but also by CJ Box's crime novels starring game warden Joe Pickett. Beautiful, lonely country still filled with Crow Indians (who have a huge reservation here) Prarie dogs, antelope, and bison -- all of which I saw today.
Finally stopped and camped at Devil's Tower, Wyoming, made famous by ET. Since leaving Missoula I've eaten nothing but buffalo meat -- buffalo sausage for breakfast and buffalo steak for dinner. On the Pacific coast I always ate Salmon. I used to like it but after a while I came to detest it. P