Posts Tagged ‘Yakima’
Posted on July 11, 2010 - by Nadia
Day 37: July 10, 2010
Pine Creek Resort to Nachez, Washington
Another scorcher of a day, ride was mostly downhill or flat after a five-mile climb to the summit on Hwy. 97. Despite dire warnings to the contrary, Hwy. 97 was fine to bike with little traffic and wide shoulders, though I started early to beat both heat and traffic. Later I was told it is famous for drunk drivers. I wound my way from Union Gap to the far side of Yakima on an unsigned greenway that was a nice break from highway riding, but dumped me out at a confusing overlap of I-84 and Hwy. 12. It took lots of conversations and riding one exit stretch on the Interstate to find the workaround, South Nachez Road. The final dozen or so miles was tough with no shoulder, the sun blinding both me and drivers coming behind me and thrashing wind.
There is a road to Reno where the ancestors wait to bless the bettors. As far as I can tell, it’s a long way to Reno from the outskirts of Toppenish but the early wagers caught my eye as I pedaled along Hwy 97. There wasn’t a car in sight so it was easy to just stop and give the crazy scattering of change the once over. A half dozen quarters, lots of dimes and nickels, countless pennies. What in the world happened here? I glanced around. tThis was quickly adding up to enough change for a convenience store ice cream break. I stooped and started picking up coins. I didn’t have many in hand when something made me look up. Well above me, a rag tag collection of scarves and beads fluttered in the wind, tied to a stretch of field fencing.
The place had a funny feel and there was a steep little worn route leading up the hillside, so I went up. On top of the hill, a fenced in square held a commanding view of the valleys to both the north and south. Inside the fence, collections of junk – plastic bottles, old shoes – were piled on what seemed to be a handful of very old graves. Coins, lottery tickets and pull tabs were left as offerings. This was clearly a sacred site. I did what anyone who knows what happened to Greg Brady when he took the idol from the cave in Hawaii would do: I carefully put the money on one of the entry gates and recommitted it to whatever its original purpose was.
Upon later inquiry I learned that the site dates to the 1800s, and is a traditional burial site for the Yakama Nation. Tribal members headed to Reno toss money out of their car as they go by, with the understanding the ancestors will watch over their wagers in the future. A larger, better kept burial site is on the hill behind a fruit stand on the west side of town.
It was a week for cemeteries and legends that started with a walk through the Goldendale Cemetery on Friday. The front part of the large grounds is mowed and the stones are in good shape, in straight rows. But in the back, where the stones are generally much older, from the 1860s, 70s and 80s, many of the monuments were broken, pieced together on the ground or stacked in their parts. The grass isn’t mowed and wild grass blows fluff and long. I asked what happened to that part of the graveyard. The woman at the museum told me it had been vandalized. And that a guy who had tended the cemetery had chopped down a bunch of trees and they’d fallen into graves. That latter bit sounded just strange to me and I chalked the whole telling up to just one more example of how weird Goldendale is odd.
Riding the Northern Pacific
I spent two hours at a train museum dedicated to North Pacific memorabilia in Topponish. Among the cool things was the almost completed restoration of a locomotive, one sister of which is located in a park in Missoula, the other in Helena.
Headed to Sumner
My trip is winding down. I suspect I will arrive Sumner Monday evening. Anyone want to join me for dinner Tuesday? Come on down! I’ll have 2,200 miles on the odometer and legs and many too many memories to even catalog at this point. My battery is very low so I’ll save longer summary posts until I am there. Thanks for reading, everyone.