We got to Oregon and didn't bust

Trip Start Nov 01, 2007
Trip End Apr 30, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Friday, January 4, 2008

Hooray! We made it to Oregon! The only way to walk across the border to Oregon was on a bike path that ran down the middle of the two-mile-long bridge on I-205 that crosses the Columbia River. The traffic was very noisy, but we felt safe because of  protective barriers separating us from the four lanes of high-speed traffic on either side. It was a great New Year's Eve present to be able to say that we had walked all the way down through Washington!

During this long trek, we've developed a feeling of kinship with the Evergreen State, partly because of some interesting parallels to our home, the Green Mountain State: Both are beautiful and green. Both states have northern borders with Canada. Both have large bodies of water to the west and snow-capped mountain ranges running down their centers. Both are famous for their apple and lumber industries. Both are known for their relatively high environmental consciousnes, and both were at the center of the recent legal battle to enact stricter state pollution and mileage standards for automobiles. And, sadly, both are losing a lot of their best farmland to the "development" of luxury country homes and pastures for pleasure-riding horses.

But some of the contrasts are striking: Unlike Vermonters, Washingtonians have not seen fit to enact a bottle deposit law, so the roadside ditches in Washington accumulate an inordinate number of cast-off beer and soda containers. Washington, with its 71,303 square miles and 4,870,000 population (15th in the nation), overshadows Vermont with its 9,614 square miles and 608,827 population (49th in the nation). The distance, as the crow flies, between Washington's north and south boders is about 240 miles (the 358 miles we've walked so far is due to our meandering route, including Canada), while the north-south dimension of Vermont is only 158 miles. Washington's highest point is 14,410 above sea level, while Vermont's highest point is only 4,395.

And now, back to where we left off earlier talking about our last week of walking through Washington:

After three days of recuperation from our colds and blisters at the home of Betsy and Bruce Kenworthy in Battle Ground, Wash., we felt ready to get on the road again. Betsy and Bruce fed us well and gave us warm space to heal, and we were right at home. We enjoyed playing with their cordial cats and sometimes over-exuberant seven-month-old puppy. One evening Betsy arranged a small, informal gathering in their home to exchange ideas and share stories of what we all have done to make a difference in the world. We enjoyed learning that people have been thinking deeply about the social and ecological challenges of our time. And they seemed to appreciate the special, spiritual perspective that we brought. Betsy is a member of the Multnomah Friends Meeting in Portland and active in North Pacific YM. Thank you, Betsy and Bruce, for your kindnesses. 

Our walk to Hockinson the next day was predicted to be rainy, but the rain held off until we reached the home of our next hosts, Ron and Carolyn Myers. Ron met us about  two miles from his home and walked the rest of the way with us. We were glad to have the company since it makes the time go by so much quicker. He had also been part of the discussion group at Betsy's the night before, so we felt like old friends on a journey together. Ron and Carolyn are active members of the Camas Friends Church and Northwest Yearly Meeting. We had a fun evening getting to know them and learning more about the inner workings of Evangelical Friends in the Northwest. We found we had a lot in common. Ron was very proud of his apple orchard and could identify each tree by its variety. He also grows vegetables and both of them care deeply about their 2-1/2 acres. They recently joined their neighbors in a campaign to prevent a lumber company from clear-cutting an area near them. They even went to hearings in the state capital, Olympia, but went away feeling that their concerns had not been taken seriously. Soon they were watching the beautiful woods on their hillside being decimated. They are concerned about the affect of this clearcutting on their watershed and wildlife habitat. Clearcutting is a consistent problem in Washington where short-term profits reign in the minds of decision-makers.

The next morning we headed out with Ron towards Camas. He left us after about six miles, and soon after he left a driver pulled over and held out money  to give us an unsolicited donation. About this time we noticed we were being photographed by a staff photographer from an area newspaper. Later we were joined by a reporter from the same newspaper, who walked the last half mile with us. As we arrived at the market, a woman saw our Peace for Earth banner and began asking questions. Soon she reached into her wallet and handed us a generous donation. We are so warmed by these expressions of kindness and solidarity.

We completed the interview as we munched on some lunch standing near the deli of a small country market.  Meanwhile, our next host, Gina Wood, had just walked in to do some shopping and was surprised to see us there already. Soon we we were stuffing our packs and other gear into her  car, to be whisked away to their beautiful rural home overlooking the picturesque Washougal River valley on the outskirts of Camas and near Ron Myer's home town of Washougal. Gina and her husband, Mike Week, both members of Camas Friends Meeting, were married just last summer. Their home has been in flux as various members of Mike's family have moved in and out, but they seem quite relaxed about all the transitions and comings and goings of people.

We enjoyed meeting Mike's daughter, Michelle, who is transferring to Evergreen State College to study cultural ecology. She had been part of a student group seeking to influence state legislation on environmental issues. Gina prepared a "Christmas" dinner of turkey and all the trimmings and we were joined by Caryl Menkhus, the pastor of Camas Friends Church, as well as Mike's parents and sister. It was an interesting gathering as we had a sustained conversation around the table of many environmental issues.

The next morning we were the speakers at the Camas Friends Church Sunday morning service. Before the service we observed a Sunday school session of "Godly Play" that Caryl has been very actively involved with. It utilizes a Montessori approach to telling stories that encourages the children to become involved and help complete the story and find its relevance to their lives. We were very impressed and want to share this method with our Meeting when we return.

After the service, many Friends stayed for a lunch discussion with us. In addition to asking familiar questions about why and how we were doing this walk, several people shared what part of the morning's program spoke strongest to them and what practical steps to care for the earth they planned to take as a result. It was a lively discussion and we were appreciative of the seriousnes with which they listened to our message.

After a lively and frank discussion with Caryl about relationships among the different branches of Friends, we spent the night at the church. Ron and Caroline Myers brought dinner to us and visited for a while. We have felt cared for by this community.

On Monday, December 31 Caryl walked with us for a while, and we came to know her even better and hope for a continuing relationship with her. In Camas we stopped by the local newspaper office for an interview. We walked for a number of miles alone and then were joined by Jim Leeman of Reedwood Friends Church to walk across the bridge. Jim has had a concern for the environment for many years and is active in his church and at the state level on committees to promote a sustainable Oregon, including Oregon's Interfaith Power & Light. We enjoyed our afternoon with Jim as he guided us to the city bus that would take us to the southeast Portland home of our next hosts.

Walking into the small but welcoming home of Arlene and Satish Palshikar was a delight. They met in India in 1965, married in 1972, and came to the U.S. in 1974. They are members of Reedwood Friends Church, though Satish still considers himself to be a Hindu. He teaches engineering and statistics at a community college. Part of their home is a study center for the life and writings of the famous missionary doctor-theologian-musician Albert Schweitzer.We followed our usual routine at the end of a day's walking--greet, talk for a while, accept some refreshment, and head to bed for a short nap. In the evening their son Jayesh arrived with his three delightful young children, Josh, Kathleen, and Sarah. We all enjoyed some fireworks, singing, and sparkling cider to herald in the new year. It was definitely a lively evening, though we didn't try to stay awake until midnight.

New Years Day was very relaxing. Around mid-day we joined David Riviera for an afternoon of lunch and conversation. He is a friend of Ruah's son Rich who works at Reed College in Portland. Wednesday we had the pleasure of meeting with staff of the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI). We regularly promote using their discussion guides as a way to work together for change and were excited to get to know folks there.

That evening we moved to our next host house, the home of Nancy McLauchlan, an employee of Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) and a member of Bridge City Friends Meeting. We had met Nancy at Quaker gatherings in the past and were pleased to spend some time with her. She invited Julie and David Peyton, members of West Hills Friends Church, to join us for dinner. Again we found we were kindred spirits on many levels. The next morning her 3-1/2 year-old granddaughter Sophie visited and entertained us. We had brunch with Friends and finally met Adam Carlson, one of our contact people from Reedwood Friends Church.

Before heading off to Multnomah Friends Meeting for our presentation, we moved again, this time to Janet Jump's home. Janet's parents were co-founders of the Multnomah Meeting, but Janet now attends Bridge City Meeting. In the short time we had to get to know Janet before leaving for the meeting, she told us that she had calculated her ecological footprint in 2006 at the FGC Gathering in Tacoma and found that the size of her house for one person increased her footprint and so, because of that and some other factors, she now has housemates. We were so pleased to know this since it meant that her visit to the QEW center had a direct positive impact on her life!  The discussion after our presentation was lively and engaging. Several people there were folks we had met before, and the potluck prior to the presentation was varied and delicious.

The next day, on our way to our last host home in Portland, we got the call that Ruah's new shoes were in! Her shoes, which were supposed to be waterproof, had leaked and after calling the manufacturer, Keen, headquartered in Portland, they agreed to have a new pair express shipped to their offices. So we will leave for our trek south with new shoes to break in, but hopefully they'll keep out the water. After the detour to the Keen offices, we headed by bus to the home of Lucy and Dan Davenport and their son, 9-year-old Mark. Due to Lucy and Dan's long association with Friends, we found we had F/friends in common and that Louis and Lucy had once met about 20 years ago. We love this extended family of Quakers!

After a delicious dinner, we headed for Reedwood Friends Church and our last presentation in Portland. About 20 Friends were present and we received very positive feedback afterwards. Some suggested that we should tape the presentation so that others will have an opportunity to see it after our walk is completed.

Some refections on Portland: We were impressed with the well-run and well-used, extensive public transportation system. The buses often traveled in residential areas, meaning that most people have a bus stop within blocks of their homes. For a large city it was very clean. Portland seems to have a very progressive outlook on meeting people's needs and protecting the environment.

We've taped a few more interviews, which we'll share in the next update. We're eager to get back on the road, knowing that it's only about 3 more weeks until we get to California!
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