As you drive back and forth from Seattle to Visalia California to see your baby brother you seen a repeated sign: Klamath Falls. Next Exit Klamath Falls. Now Klamath Falls is sort of inconsequential place in the middle of Oregon. I don't know if anyone goes to Klamath Falls. I know very little about Klamath Falls but after you see the sign enough you begin to wonder if you should go to Klamath Falls.
It became sort of a joke. The kind that develops when you have crossed over a river 36 times in a very short period of time. Sort of like the License Plate game. When you are on a long drive this is how you make the miles pass with alacrity. Lots of roads and exits lead to Klamath Falls. But I think in retrospect, it is a place to be avoided. Sort like ICU or Hospice. It is a better to avoid it at all cost and hope the Exit passes you by, each and every time.
I just spent a few days driving to and from Visalia with my mom. We drove I-5 and then at Sacramento headed down 99. Down the center of the San Joaquin Valley. Rows and Rows of unidentified trees and crops and rice paddies whizzed by as we drove 80+ miles an hour. When the fog cleared we could see from the Sierras to Coastal range. Flat, fertile, under cultivation. Almost a cosmic adventure. Miles and miles of straight rows, small dusty farm towns. Disturbing feed lots, fields populated by field hands and their families. It makes you think. It makes you wonder. It makes you appreciate what shows up in the stores.
The vastness of it all. I of course want to know how the valley was formed. As you drop out of the end of the Cascade Mountain range and leave mountains and foot hills behind, it makes you wonder. How did this all come about? Or at least it makes me wonder.
I spent the whole trip wondering where the Sacramento River starts? When did they built the Lake Shasta Dam? How many people live in Myrtle Creek? What was Happy Donut before it became so happy? When did the first settlers realize they could grow Oranges? Who brought them to the valley. Why do we dye ripe olives black? When did Zinfandel Wine become dark read and not a Rose?
My list of questions goes on and on. But then travel does that for you, even a short jaunt to visit your brother in his wonderful house with an orange tree and never ending closets.
My time away also kept me away from many things that have filled my life these past few years. Three years and 5 months. It was a bit of time not to dwell on the stuff that makes "Klamath Falls" an unwanted destination.
I realized you can run but you cannot escape. Just like when you first enter Cancer World and watch your life go away, you realize things don't stop on command or when you are not watching. A child was buried, several were mourned. More were struggling. Some were given hope, some were given guarded hope, some were just waiting to find some hope.
Hope is a good thing. It helps us move forward. It often even answers some of my questions.