The Dalles, OR -- July 24 and 25, 2007

The Dalles is the end of the Oregon trail and my one and only stop in Oregon. I didn't make it to Powell's in Portland, but I did make it to Paul Klindt's bookstore, known for being the oldest bookstore in Oregon as well as, and this is from my own experience, the most hospitable and helpful.

(Mount Adams in the background. Mount Hood dominates another horizon.)

Like any small town, The Dalles, with a population of about 13,000, has no public transportation commute involving reading books at bus stops and in train stations. I had to look hard for readers. I did find a few and I'm sure there were many more sitting in recliners beneath reading lamps or tucked into bed with bedtime stories, but in the evening when the heat had abated I made a slow perimeter around town I saw things that, I think, define the character of the town. It's good to be out of San Francisco seeing different ways people enjoy the quality of life:

a woman lacquering a child-sized picnic table
a mother and her children jumping together on a trampoline
an elderly woman coiling a garden hose
groups of young men in baseball caps playing folf in a park above the city
couples of young women in sporty clothes speed walking
a babysitter discussing with her charges whether they should count to 50 or 30 before hiding
a couple of teenage girls playing cards on a blanket
a man leaned against his garden wall talking on his cell phone
young boys trying to flip their skateboards over curbs and land with the wheels right side up
a circle of teenagers playing hacky sack

and two little girls who wanted to tell me the names of every single pet, person and living creature within a half-mile radius, including, but not limited to, the dead bugs from their bug houses...all this despite the fact that the neighbors dogs (whose names I forgot) were barking at me the whole time.

Off in this industrial part of town, Google has a five building complex for data processing. It's good to have new blood in this town, Mr. Klindt said.

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