Plains Running

From an airplane on my way to Utah, as written on the inside-back cover of The Myth of American Exceptionalism:

The pilot, swinging a more southerly route than usual, brought to my right-side window the length of the Cascades, stretching into the hazy distance.  It was 6pm, mid-September, and the sun was low in the sky, casting a golden glow onto the western faces of Broken Top, and Mt. Washington.  Black Butte rose from the haze, uncommonly sharp and distinct in its darkness, but still no more than a smudge on the expanse that stretches East to the divide.  To the South, in a yellow-blue shimmer, I thought that I might pick out the hulking shoulders of Mt. Bachelor, and aways past to the tiny prick of Mt. Shasta, making itself known on behalf of a sun-warmed California.

The airplane has moved on and now hovers above the wrinkled, indented country of the Bull Run, the Metolius, and Warm Springs.  Here is a country of inverted topology; green folds sunken into a dusty plain that slowly runs down and away from the crest of the Cascades, until it is lifted again by the Rockies far to the East.  Rising steadily, our 700-series began to lift into the heights of thin air, 39000 ft high, shrinking below us the land intimate to men camped from here four hundred miles to Salt Lake City.  ‘Peanuts, sir?’  No, horses, mountains, and clouds.  Wake me when we land.

Category: Adventures, Travel, & Writing

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