Saturday, March 18, 2006

Back to Nature

Marine Corp sergeant Stephen Dabbindark squatted defensively at the bow of the landing craft, looking back at the faces of his platoon. Already, the familiar island aromas were wafting in on the breeze. The ubiquitous odor of diesel fuel mixed with motor oil and vomit was cut by the tropical smell of monkey shit and rotting fruit. It was only a matter of minutes now...

The engine died, the steel door dropped, and bullets began killing his men before they could even get their feet wet. This was Iwo Jima, imperial Japanese island fortress, and home to two airstrips, each capable of launching assaults on Tokyo. There were 21,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo waiting to die. Dabbindark just had to survive the next 50 yards before he could get to work...

Since the American Revolution, over 40 million men and women, like Sgt. Dabbindark, have served in the US military during times of war. In fact, there are currently more than 25 million veterans still living today.

Each and every one of us owe these veterans a debt of thanks. Even the federal government, in its wisdom, has done it's share to thank these courageous heroes. In honor of the sacrifices made by these many gallant warriors, The United States Government has seen fit to give them the greatest honor it can bestow. That's right, you guessed it, the vets get a six-mile stretch of freeway in the state of Oregon. They call it "The Veterans Memorial Highway."

You don't often hear people say, "My, now, that's a beautiful freeway." And to be sure, it isn't quite as moving as the somber slabs of the Vietnam War Memorial. However, out-of-town guests (mostly freeway connoisseurs from LA) frequently exclaim the virtues of this woodsy route.

My daily commute rushes me past the forested median and rippling rivers that line this memorial thoroughfare, and I do not take nearly enough time to apprehend how pastorally pleasant it truly is.

So, recently, when I had the opportunity to reduce my speed to 5 miles per hour over an extended distance, due to the poor driving habits of some overturned minivan-driving soccer mom, I began to take note of the finely forested groves along the median. Shady and cool, it looked as if ODOT keeps the grass and shrubbery mostly manicured, much like a park, and I began to wonder whether the original memorial concept called for families to hold Veteran's Day
or Memorial Day outings right there in the middle of the memorial highway...

I mean there's plenty of room for parking, playing, and even camping, if one were so inclined. If not for the incessant noise of passing traffic, it would be a swell site for a camp out. Tall trees and green grass, and you can't beat the access. I think this is something I might want to try.

So, if you ever find yourself on I-205, and off in the median, under a tall stand of poplars, you spot a camp site set up around a crackling camp fire, pull over and say "Hi." Chances are, it will probably be me, and as always, I'll be pouring drinks...


  1. You were driving and taking pictures at the same time? Does your insurance company know about this? I can hear the depo now, "And Mr. Brian, what were you doing when you rear-ended the mini-van driving soccer mom?" Hee hee. Although, knowing you, that's not nearly close to the most dangerous thing you've done while driving. C'mon folks, fess up! What's the most dangerous thing Bri's done while driving? And he has to actually be driving, not as a passenger in the car....

  2. Brian smith2:17 PM

    We used to play lazer tag while driving. There was also a time when we overheard "white dog" on the CB radio in Brian's grandparents van but we wont go there.


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