Are you as tired as I am of all of the 10 Best of ...? Smithsonian magazine has a new list out, "America's 10 Best Small Towns," now normally I don't get emotional about lists. But this one caught me at the end of my first of two days of sick leave and maybe I am just in a negative mood. When I saw the title on the cover of the magazine I thought, "cool," then I read the blurb on the title page, "Looking for richest cultural offerings in the most charming settings..." I wanted to barf. I have been to one of the towns, Gig Harbor, WA, and I would have to agree it is a nice town. It would have made my 10 best list a few years ago, but not now that I have changed my chi or whatever it is I have a different outlook. Some of the change has happened very recently and as I am reading Meeting Faith. I have already spoken about the book here, so I won't go over it again, too much. I have to admit that when I first started reading the memoir I was thinking, "oh ick, this have been part of some Phd thesis or something." I am happy to say, reluctantly, that some of the things Faith is writing about is actually making me think. One of the things she talks about is "contemplative thought," or something like that. So I have been doing a bit of that, without the meditation piece or the maechi assistance. But back to the article. It is, of course, targeting the upper echelon, not the homebody. That the 10 best in America must have, as tasked by the Smithsonian to the research company Esri, "high concentrations of museums, historic sites, botanic gardens, resident orchestras, art galleries and other cultural assets common to big cities." I nearly hurled my newly baked snickerdoodle. Why are those things so important? Not a one of them, except maybe the gardens, free to the average traveler. Why aren't things you can do outdoors just as important? Now that I think about it nearly all of the things listed as "cultural" are sedentary or nearly sedentary activities. Ok, watching a rodeo or a car race on a dirt oval is also sedentary for the watcher anyway. Ok, again, you walk around a museum and a garden and an art gallery, but really?
Hermiston may not be a cultural center of such activity, but here you can go to a rodeo in the morning and a car race in the afternoon and still have time to take the dogs on a walk to McNary Dam. Just a thought Smithsonian, why don't come you to northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington and take a look around? The landscape is breathtaking, in my humble opinion, and there are things to do here. Things that don't cost you an arm and a leg to take your family to and you can even camp at park where Lewis and Clark came by and even commented on, "... SW. 14 miles to a rock in a Lard. resembling a hat just below a rapid at
the lower Point of an Island in the Midl: of the river ..." [Clark, October 19, 1805, first draft]. No really, they did comment on Hat Rock and even Ship Rock. They missed the basalt Cayuse Sisters, which have coyote to thank for their existence. The park, the sisters, the Dam all free. And all amazing.