Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hamburgers and Battle Fatigue

East Wind Drive-In
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
This is the East Wind Drive-In, located in the charming hamlet of Cascade Locks, Oregon. As we drove through on our way to a hike a couple of weeks ago, I knew that B and I would be "dining" there post-hike, or at the very least stopping for an ice cream treat. I can’t pass up a place with a sign like that. Note how chipped and weather-worn the ice cream cone is. And could the penguin possibly be any cuter? Here’s a close-up to help you decide.

I really love primordial fast-food joints like this. (I use the term “fast food” loosely, because the laconic teenagers running the place were not too swift.) I had a burger (thin and concave) that came with a wad of shredded iceberg lettuce; a slice of pink tomato; generous glops of secret sauce (AKA Miracle Whip), ketchup, and yellow mustard; and three flabby pickle chips. It was sloppy, squishy, unassuming, cheap(ish), and totally delicious in my opinion. Of course, I was semi-ravenous, having just come off of an 8.5-mile hike.

I don’t often seek out this sort of low- to middling-quality burger, but sometimes it just hits the spot. Plus, these places always seem to have an astonishing variety of milkshakes including abberrant flavors like peanut butter or marshmallow. Who orders those, I wonder? I think they sound gross—especially the marshmallow. Still it’s nice to have options.

I could at this point launch into an extended rant bemoaning the fact that the East Wind Drive-In is in danger of being bulldozed to make way for a hellacious mega gambling casino in Cascade Locks, which would not only be a terrible thing for the small business owner of the drive in, but a terrible, terrible, terrible thing for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area—a truly unique place of wildness and beauty. The environmental impact would be catastrophic. And it infuriates me that the main reason such an outrageous idea is even on the table is that it is being offered up as a “solution” to Oregon’s perpetual budgetary woes. I think we can do better than to prey on people’s addictions and to flush the environment down the crapper while we’re at it. So, yes, just a brief rant. A good summary of the issue is here at Onward Oregon’s Web site.

I believe that for the moment, anyway, the casino plans have been blocked—a small and probably temporary victory. It’s hard to take much comfort in it, though. I am really tired of being continually bombarded with e-mails and phone calls reminding me of the awful state of the world and asking me to please donate money to fix it or call freakin’ Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) to ask him to please vote against some heinous piece of legislation that he’s going to for sure vote for anyway. It’s not that I don’t support the sundry organizations sending me the e-mails and making the phone calls, and I’ve been signing the petitions and making the calls and, yes, even sending some donations, but it’s all so overwhelming. And there isn’t much good news or evidence that any of my efforts (and the efforts of millions of others who are trying to take part in the so-called democratic process) are doing any good. I have battle fatigue. I also think that I am brewing up a cold, which makes everything seem approximately 10 times more intractable. I'd best shut up, finish my mug of herbal tea, and go to bed.


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