Grass Valley, Oregon
Something that really fascinates me about America is those real Nowheresville kind of places – where people just pass the time of day, teaching their dog a trick, chatting to the neighbours, waiting for something new to happen.
Yesterday I found one of those places. I was on the high plateau, just south of The Dalles, Oregon, and was running low on petrol. I kept hoping that over the next rise in the dry, brown landscape, there might be a gas station.
Long after the BlandsMobile had announced ‘low fuel’ and I was starting to panic about being stranded, I happened upon Grass Valley. Not as verdant as it sounds.
At first I thought the gas station was closed, but a burly attendant (Doyle – second top) ambled out to fill ‘er up. There was a free ‘magic’ show into the bargain – a few tricks involving novel ways of folding a dollar bill, and an email pointing out various spooky permutations of the numbers 9/11.
On the way out, I got talking with Dale (top), the tattoo’ed, scarred guy working in the yard. He had a long scar across his face. ‘Yeah… got mixed up in the wrong crowd…. fella tried to kill me….’
For half an hour, I was in a different world. Not somewhere I’d necessarily want to spend much longer, but I loved the insight into a different pace of life, a few different human histories.