I suppose I should have some shame that I keep bragging about my commute, but I really have a hard time not going on about it. Almost daily I'll be in the middle of my drive home and be struck by something beautiful -- a Northern Harrier flying next to my window as he searches the field for dinner; a beautiful field of alfalfa with nothing but sun and blue sky behind it; a cloud formation so striking that it takes my breath away.
I left the island in 1983 for the city to go to college. After college I got a job, and then another job, and then eventually I moved to New Jersey for yet more jobs. All of my commuting, for 24 years, was in the city. I either drove or took the bus, paid for parking, struggled to find parking, and except for my home street, pretty much all the road was a minimum of four lanes. Four lanes FULL of cars.
I've been in Central WA for four years now, and I don't think I'll ever take this drive for granted.
This is what it looks like as I leave work on a rainy day:
No, I don't know what that smudge on my window is, either.
Then I head down the hill and into the Horse Heaven Hills for about 20 miles. All I see is this:
Yes, I know what THOSE smudges are. Lots and lots of dead bugs. I don't bother washing my car much this time of year.
Finally, I come to the really fun part of my commute.
I push the button for my 4 Wheel Drive, and I need it:
For about five miles its nothing but a gravel road in the fields. So far I've seen coyotes (alive and dead), the skeleton of a dead cow and a dead sheep. And some antelope.
Oh, look! Off in the distance! TRAFFIC!
Hard to tell from my crappy cell phone picture, but that's a farmer discing his field.
All too soon, I head down the hill to the end of the dirt and back to pavement.
Still, though, I'm not struggling with a bunch of other commuters. The locals look like this:
Its not all fun and games, though. I do have to put a few miles in on an actual highway. I don't like it. I think its ugly.
Soon enough, though, I cross the Blue Bridge and turn twice, and I'm on my street:
That's my white fence and mailbox on the left.
I don't care that its a 45 mile drive each way and that it takes me almost an hour. I don't care at all, because I used to have to drive on the Garden State Parkway to and from work and it took me almost an hour and I was only going 20 miles. Being flipped off, cut off, yelled at and stopped dead in traffic was the routine.
Here, in the spring, I squeal in delight as I see the first new foals and the calves, legs still splayed as they try standing for the first or second time. I see endless sky and mountains that fill me with wonder. I see the Columbia River, mighty and broad, sweeping her way past the Wallula Gap as she turns the corner and thrusts herself toward the Pacific Ocean, falling over dams and skirting thousand-foot high cliffs. I see countless Red Tailed and Sharp Shinned Hawks, California Quail, Red Winged Blackbirds. I see eagles, sometimes, and deer. I see rabbits and badgers and foxes. I regularly watch kestrels drop off the wire and grab something right next to my car on the road as I swerve to avoid hitting them.
I wouldn't trade this for any city job, ever. I dont' ever see myself going back to "civilization."