5am: Travelling through Washington going southwest. Farmlands and handmade signs, "fresh blueberries", "sweet corn all you can eat". We want to stop but all is still. Rolling hills in the distance and patches of communities periodically gleam on the horizon under the new, orange sun.
7am: School buses hit the road in Pasco. Many taco trucks painted "La Diferencia" await the day. Kids, in small groups and alone, walk to school with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
We're on highway 84 west, 130 miles east of Portland. The sun and clear, clear sky reveal a gorgeous day. Sand colored hills with intermittent fields of stark-white, three-pronged windmills in various degrees of motion give way to periodic oases of green. A super long train with two engines snakes along above the river bank. I am brought back to Kenner, Louisiana where we grew up down the street from a railroad track on the left and the mighty Mississippi on the right. Miles and miles of open highway and the Columbia River is crystal blue. Hmm…the Mississippi was brown. Here's some Bighorn sheep clustered on a ledge right above the road, looking for something to do. Passing Blaylock Canyon and everything is a living postcard.
Coming into Portland to visit Dr. Monette's shop, we are so tired it's comical, but the drive was inspirational. Frank says, "It was like being in a cathedral at some points. Stained glass and all." Portland reminds me of Leroy Vinnegar and Ben Wolfe. Two bassists of different generations—one love of swinging.
We're at Dave's shop outside the Portland airport. We have a needed a visit with the Doctor. The shop and everyone working there is a model of soul and concern and first class workmanship. We share a noonday meal and discuss various issues of the day, like George Blanda's age when he retired from the NFL and the beat-down my Raiders received on Monday.
Andre Bragg (diehard Cowboys fan from D.C. no less) is not a man given to lots of talk. He says only one thing the entire time. "They needed Blanda on Monday." We look at old photos, and I play the horn I'm fortunate to be taking…and Frank and Dave ruminate on some issues, and Dave shows Frank the components of an earring he's about to make for him, and we give hugs and respect to all these wonderful craftsmen…and we're off.
Two hours to Eugene when we thought it would be twenty minutes…Well there goes any hope of working on my orchestration this afternoon before sound check.