The Big Read Blog (Archive)

The End of the Road at the End of the Trail

January 25, 2007
Enterprise, Oregon

"Loaded and set out at 7 o'clock. Passed a creek on the larboard with wide cotton willow bottoms, having passed an island and a rapid..." -- The Journals of Lewis and Clark, Oct. 10, 1805

To be specific, the journal of Captain William Clark, the concept of team-blogging not having been invented yet. Capt. Clark wrote those words not far from where I'm sitting now, he in a tent near a watercourse temporarily named for his co-captain, me in the business center of the Holiday Inn Express at [Meriwether] Lewiston, Idaho, overlooking what somebody renamed the Snake River. (Clark got his namesake town of Clarkston just across the Snake, in Washington State .)

Sunrise in Enterprise, Oregon. Photo: David Kipen

But enough about Lewis and Clark, two slugabeds who couldn't be bothered to saddle up until a leisurely 7 o'clock in the morning. Me, I have to be up before the sun, since NEA communications ace Paulette sent out a press release yesterday claiming that "David will blog regularly about the events he attends, the readers and writers he meets, the insights community residents share about the Big Read novels, and much more." Blogger Mark Sarvas over at The Elegant Variation even deigned to quote the release, and I don't want to disappoint either of Mark's readers. With that in mind, and ever dedicated to truth in press releases, herewith a thumbnail account of The Big Read yesterday:

The events I attended: A tour of the idyllic lakeside lodges housing Fishtrap's summer and winter writing workshops; a radio interview about the Big Read with redoubtable station owner-DJ Lee Perkins and his two faithful Scotties, all while standing in KWVR's snug one-chair broadcast booth; chicken-fried steak at the Lostine Tavern learning proper use of the word "rig," which in Eastern Oregon applies equally well to 18-wheelers hauling haybales and the lowliest Geo; Jess Turner's English classes at Wallowa High School, triple the size of Teah Evans' AP students at Enterprise High the day before, but no less bemused to find a G-man suddenly in their midst

The readers and writers I met: Too many to add more here now except maybe for Merle Hawkins, who commandeered our table at El Bahio on my first night in Wallowa County to reminisce about the packing into the mountains with Oregonian, conservationist, preserver of the C&O towpath trail dear to generations of Washingtonians, and, in his spare time, Supreme Court Justice William O. "Wild Bill" Douglas.

The insights community residents share about the Big Read novels: Quoth Fishtrap founder Rich Wandschneider: "For me personally, it has been wonderful to rediscover Steinbeck -- a man for our times!"

The "much more" will have to wait, since the airport shuttle won't. But welcome to the blog, and more down the Big Road ?