May 31, 2011

Weekend Entertainments

Holiday's present complications for us in our work schedule, especially when we're not planning on taking off. You see, even though we plan to work through a holiday, most people go ahead and take off anyway! So getting loaded or unloaded can be complicated. Fortunately we have an amazing broker who thinks these things through, and usually when there's going to be a long weekend, he'll plan a load that goes past the house so we can camp out there instead of in a parking lot somewhere. Handy isnt' he?

We'd forgotten that this past weekend was even a holiday. Things like that slip by us so easily when every day is the same. So at first when we were told to load in Oregon on Thursday but that we couldn't deliver till Tuesday in Minnesota we were a little miffed, seeing as how we could have been there Friday morning! But then we remembered Memorial Day, and really to tell the truth, we weren't that upset at the prospect of a weekend off.

So Thursday morning we were sitting in Alicel, OR waiting to load sunflower seeds first thing.

Loaded up and heading north, within a few miles we were looking at a winter wonderland. They'd had snow again in the mountains between La Grande, Or and Walla Walla, WA.
It was pretty, but just felt wrong in late May. So when we crested the last hill and got a view of the Washington countryside below, it was easier to think about it being nearly summer.
Heading east from Walla Walla, after a little while we left the rolling hills, drove through Lewiston, ID, and entered the long stretch of winding road...
...that follows along the Clearwater River (which I might add isn't so clear these days, and is in fact quite muddy with all the run off from recent rains)...
...and dumps you out of the mountains and into Lolo, MT just south of Missoula. Its long and slow going, and a little stressful in icy winter, but I still love the drive along the Clearwater!

We were home a little after midnight Thursday. A night of rest, a shower at home, and we jumped back on the road to finish that leg of our journey towards the weekend. By lunch time Friday we were back in eastern Montana and getting closer to the ranch.
The waters had receded considerably, but it was still visibly soggy in many places, and though the Big Sky was blue, I was watching rain showers in every direction.

Our stay at the ranch was brief, just long enough to drop the trailer and eat a late lunch and visit. And then we were off again.

It was perfect timing to have a long weekend, because just a day or two before, we had finalized a purchase of a livestock trailer in Kansas and needed to go get it. It worked out perfectly! We were able to be in Kansas by Saturday morning, sign papers, hook up, and we were back at the ranch Sunday morning around 3:30am. And now we can haul my father-in-laws cows for him, and use it for jobs in the future. It was good to see our truck hooked up to a bull rack again! We always enjoyed that line of trucking.
After that point, work was over and the real weekend-ing began. It had turned off chilly and wet again, so things were pretty soggy. Our truck made a mess of the driveway...
...our feet sank a bit in many spots...
...and to Paris's great consternation, the grass was wet. To her grass is bad enough, but when its wet...well the princess's toes don't "do" wet grass.

Number one on my agenda, aside from some quality time with family, was spending a little time with the horses, and one horse in particular.

Sky, my paint colt, is just over one year old and still has never had a halter on! That is until this weekend.
Fortunately for me, he's just a super friendly horse with a super attitude. Given that and his overly curious nature, and it was almost easy to halter him. It took about an hour once I got ready to work on it. We had some visiting time first, and moved some panels to make a smaller pen to work in, during which he followed me around occasionally trying to grab the hood of my jacket. His curiosity has the potential to make him a pest. But when we got down to work, he'd actually stick his head in the halter when I held it out because he was so curious. The actual putting on and buckling took some manuevering on my part, but when we got to that part it was over fairly quickly and he stood there like he wasn't quite sure how that had happened to him. And then resumed his exploration of the pen, me, the bucket, my brushes, the lead rope, and on and on.

He's been hanging out with his Mom, something that will be changing soon, as her next foal is due within a few weeks and Sky hasn't been gelded yet. So he'll have to keep other company. But for the time being, Dawn was my somewhat reluctant assistant in getting Sky in from the pasture and keeping him from getting too wound up. She enjoyed the petting and a few cookies, but over all found the whole process rather dull. She napped through most of the morning while Sky and I got to know each other.
This was my first experience getting a halter on a colt without human assistance. I was dubious about how it was going to go, so when it took less than an hour and nothing was broken, and no one had been killed, I was rather pleased with myself. There's something to be said for having good horses with good dispositions, as opposed to the having pretty horses with bad attitudes. They tend to produce pretty colts with bad attitudes.

Anyway, halter on and in the barn to limit distractions, and Sky and I were making progress. He was still willing to stick close to me, despite the earlier insult, and he was more than willing to accept a cookie or two as an apology.

He spent a lot of time looking at me like I'd lost my mind to stick that thing on his head. And he wasn't too crazy about the lead rope putting pressure on him, but he only tugged back a little and then gave to gentle pressure and stepped towards whatever direction the pressure was coming from. He'll learn quickly I think, if he ever has the opportunity to.
I gave him a little time to try and figure out for himself that its not much use fighting the lead rope. He didn't like it and did quite a bit of leaning back against it in a tug of war with the post (obviously the post was going to win) but he never blew up over it, which I was pleased to see.

I love the markings on his nose. It looks like the black bled into the white like ink does when it gets wet on paper or fabric.
We worked together Sunday all morning, and then again on Monday afternoon, before I took Sky and Dawn back out to their pasture. I led Dawn and let Sky follow along, stopping at the house to have our pictures made and to smell the flowers my mother-in-law had planted.
Dawn was still rather bored with the whole thing, or perhaps its her pregnancy that's making her tired. She was patient with us though, tolerated our primping for the picture...

...and was fairly patient with Sky nipping her rear while we walked back out to the pasture gate, where last pets were exchanged and halters were removed. She only stepped in about 3 feet past the gate before she set in to grazing. Sky let me take off the halter, but like any kid he was eager to go out and play and didn't stick around for any lengthy farewell. He trotted on in a ways and watched the cows before settling in for some lunch.

His gray is starting to show through a bit more. I'm curious how long it will take for him to turn over completely. He'll be a handsome boy when he's gray and white, but I'm really liking the black and white stage too. And I think blue is going to be his signature color. What do you think?
The rest of the afternoon was spent doing laundry, visiting, and relaxing by the fire. It was so damp that it made the chilly air feel that much more chilly, so the fire was welcome and cozy. The girls spent a good deal of time laying on the floor in front of it. Malcolm's mom and I talked quilting, fabric, decorating, admired her new dishes, and watched Secretariat which she had bought months ago and had been saving to watch with me. I'm glad she did. It was a great movie, even for the non-horse nuts out there! I highly recommend it!

Malcolm and his dad worked on fixing some things out in the shop and enjoying each others company, and we all enjoyed lots of laughter and good converstation when we were all inside together.

We're back at work now. We left the ranch last night making tracks as we went...
and delivered in Breckenridge, MN this morning. Now we're reloaded and headed to southern Arkansas. Another round with the road, but hopefully we'll be back in a couple weeks to have a longer break and get some things done.

Hope you all had a really nice weekend and that the week to come is calm, peaceful, and enjoyable for us all! Lets all hope for some nice warm dry weather!!!

May 26, 2011

The Last Onion Load

Shasta Lake in northern California
Our Sunday drive through California was easy and short. We only went about 200 miles before stopping till Morning. Down out of the mountains and through the grain and rice fields of the plains north of Sacramento, and then we stopped at a rest area about 100 miles from San Francisco.

Malcolm finished in the morning and we delivered with no problems. The only difficulty was that it took several hours to get the barley unloaded, but on the bright side the length of time caused us to completely miss morning rush hour. We didn't pull out till nearly 10:00am and so traffic was a breeze, or as near to it as San Francisco traffic can get.

We were asked to do an empty bounce of more than 400 miles! That's a big bounce for us. At most we usually drive 200 miles empty. But these onion loads pay enough to justify it. Some guys are even driving all the way back to southern Cal from Oregon without a load!

Going south from San Francisco, we drove down US101. Its a lovely drive. When we were hauling a refer (refrigerated trailer) we were over in this area a lot. We used to pick up a lot of produce in the Salinas area.  

 They seem to grow just a little bit of everything here, from grain to grapes.

Raspberries, strawberries, lettuce, broccoli, artichokes, and the list goes on and on, and so does the line of roadside stands. Sometimes it seems everyone is running a produce stand in their yard.

Currently it is cherry season and the trees are laden with plump red fruits. Malcolm offered to stop and buy some for me. If I'd only known then what I know now I would have taken him up on the offer.

Just south of San Jose we turned east on highway 152. Its a beautiful drive across the hills and into the San Joaquinn valley. I love these hills for their grassy pastures dotted with these huge trees.

 When you come out the other side of the hills you are greeted by a huge reservoir, before dropping into the valley.

Our 450 miles bounce ended in the desert south of Barstow, CA where we picked up a load of ground limestone...
...which we then hauled the remaining 175 miles to Brawley, CA. The limestone went to a feedlot where they were mixing it with manure and fertilizing their hay fields.

Brawley is the town where we have been loading onions. This time the onion field we went to was across the road from a wheat field that was nearly ready for harvest. I think grain fields are so pretty!
In fact they were already harvesting a number of wheat fields, and when they have finished harvesting the wheat, and have gotten the straw off if they want it, they burn the stubble from the fields. The effect is quite dramatic and intense there for about 5 minutes, and then it disappears.
We loaded our onions and headed back north to Oregon. Just north of Brawley, out in the California desert, the road goes through a few miles of the Imperial Dunes Recreation Area. I pretend I'm driving through the Sahara Desert.

The sunrise in Oregon on Wednesday morning was lovely...
But you know the saying "red sky at morning, sailors take warning?" Maybe that's only for coastal areas, but I can tell you that by early afternoon it was raining and only in the 40's. It was a damp chilly day, and no one on this end of the country needs any more rain!

We delivered our onions that afternoon in Hermiston, OR and only then found out that that was one of the last loads to come out of Brawley. The harvest crew will be moving their equipment to Bakersfield, CA now, but in the mean time, we're off on other roads. Which is where the "if I'd only known" statement from earlier comes in.

We're loading sunflower seeds this morning in Alicel, OR.
These seeds go to Minnesota by way of our house! If I'd only know as we were driving past all those produce stands. I could have stocked up on fresh produce and gotten it in the freezer when we get home tonight! This has happened to me before and I always wish I'd known further ahead of time!

We'll be home tonight, and after a shower, a short sleep in our bed, and a check on the house to make sure all is in order, we're heading over to the ranch to visit for a day or two and check the flooding out over there. We're also making a quick trip to Kansas to pick up a cattle trailer we purchased. The sunflower seeds can't deliver till Tuesday because of the holiday, so we're planning a bit of a holiday for ourselves.

The flooding in most parts of Montana is starting to recede, but more rain is in the forecast for Friday and another storm system is due to come through early next week, so the break from the flooding might be short lived. Every time I log on to the internet, there is another story about another town in Montana that just got flooded. Today it was Roundup, just north of us that was having problems. Yesterday it was Joliet, just southwest of Billings, that had a wall of water running down main street because of a log jam on the river. It seems like all Montana's troubles have been over shadowed in the news by the horrible tornado damage in the mid-west, and I can understand, because that's more dramatic. But still, its a little insulting. I don't see anything on the national news sights about our flooding problems. And its not a minor issue! Its the whole darn state that's drowning! Has anyone seen anything about Montana on the news?

May 24, 2011

Sharing Good Books with Friends

but first I wanted to share that:

We've been following the news from home because interesting things are happening there. It started raining last week. Not remarkable in and of itself, but the interesting thing is it kept on raining, day after day, until parts of eastern Montana had accumulated more than 5 inches or rain! Any idea what that does to ground that's already saturated with moisture from several feet of melting snow? Let me show you...

This is Box Elder creek running a little high after a snow melt in May of 2008. Normally the Box Elder can be waded across without getting your legs wet above the knee. I know because I've gone "swimming" in it which involved laying on my stomach in order to get most of me wet.

When we lived at the ranch before moving to Billings, we lived a few miles from Malcolm's parents on some property they owned that had a couple houses. Malcolm's sister lived in one and we lived in the other, and the Box Elder ran peacefully along on the other side of the hay field from our houses. It is a lovely spot and I miss it, though these past few days I've been thankful we don't live there and that Malcolm's parents don't own it anymore. It was sold a little over a year ago, and my heart is breaking for the new owners.

These pictures were taken by a neighbor and are being used with their permission.
This is what the Box Elder looked like as of Sunday afternoon...
the house Malcolm's sister lived in
the barns and corrals between the two houses

the house we lived in is in the background behind the garage
This is the scene in many areas of eastern Montana. I read that every county in eastern Montana has flooding and roads washed out. East and South of Billings, the Yellowstone and BigHorn rivers and their tributaries are on a rampage, washing out roads and bridges and anything standing in their way. One of the bridges we would need to cross to get home is gone, so we'll be taking a detour when and if we ever get to go home again, and right now I feel like that will be never (even though its only 3 more weeks away).

for pictures of the Billings area:

Even I-90 is under water and closed from just south of Billings to the Wyoming state line and the towns along that route are suffering.

Take into consideration all this along with the storms of last month in the south, the flooding along the Mississippi River, and the tornado in Joplin, MO this weekend, and its just a little overwhelming. What on earth is going on with our Earth this year? This one will definitely be one for the record books, and speaking of...the flooding in my state has surpassed the record in the record books, or at least that's what I hear. My mom did a post on the Paradox of Nature a few weeks ago. I think she summed it up best when she said, "nature is cruel, and nature is beautiful." Its definitely showing its cruel side right now.

Moving on to books and friends...
When things are bad, or I'm down in the dumps, or on a rainy day, one of my favorite "escapes" is reading. And one of my delights is sharing a good book with a good friend.
Its more pleasant once she gets settled and stops pulling my hair. She likes to read over my shoulder and then we discuss what we read that day. Our last two books were really good and Paris felt that we should share them with others, so I told her I'd do a blog post on them. So here goes...

Winter Wheat
-Midred Walker
"September is like a quiet day after a whole week of wind. I mean real wind that blows dirt into your eyes and hair and between your teeth and roars in your ears after you've gone inside. The harvesting is done and the wheat stored away and your through worrying about hail or drought or grasshoppers. The fields have a tired peaceful look, the way I imagine a mother feels when she's had her baby and is just lying there thinking about it and feeling pleased."

The first chapter of the book and just a taste of the beautiful use of words and language in it. Winter Wheat is the story of Ellen Webb, "who lives in the dryland wheat country of central Montana during the early 1940's...It is a story about growing up, becoming a woman, mentally, emotionally, spiritually..." It is a beautiful story that captured me and carried me through all the pages. It was one of those that your sorry to see end. By the time it was over, I was neighbors and good friends with the characters and new I was going to miss them terribly. The truck seemed lonelier when I closed the back cover over the ending page because they had moved on and left me.

Winter Wheat was the (I think) 2003 One Book Montana selection. I missed it then, but because the last One Book Montana book that I read was so excellent, I saw this one on the shelf at the store and took a gamble, one that I feel I won. One of my favorite things about this book, aside from the beautiful language and the story that was capturing, was Ellen's use of wheat. The wheat that her family grows, her knowledge of it, is woven throughout her life, and her thoughts and she uses comparisons of the wheat fields and grains and stalks when she's describing situations or feelings. I liked that.

Inside the front cover of the book is a list of 13 other titles written by Ms. Walker. I intend to look into reading as many of them as I can. On the back cover is a quote from the Philadelphia Inquirer that sums up my opinion of one of my new favorite authors, "You are either a Mildred Walker enthusiast or you are missing one of the best writers on the American scene."

When We Were Strangers
- Pamela Schoenewaldt

On occasion, while strolling the aisle of the book store, a random book will catch my eye and I'll indulge, take a risk, spend money on a book just because I liked the cover and hope I'm not throwing my money away. This was one such book. It was the spools of thread and needle that caught my attention, and as it turns out, I didn't throw away any money. I read this book in three days, knowing full well that I needed to slow down and save some chapters for the onion field. But I just couldn't leave it alone.

"Too poor and too plain to marry, and unwilling to burden what family she has left, twenty-year-old Irma Vitale sees no choice but to flee her Italian mountain village. Risking rough passage across the Atlantic and the dangers facing a single woman in an unfamiliar land, Irma boldly pursues a new life sewing dresses for gentlewomen. Swept up in the crowded streets of mid-nineteenth-century America, Irma finds not only workshop servitude and miserable wages, but also seeds of friendship in the raw immigrant quarters...From the rubble, and in the face of human cruelty and kindness, suffering and hope, Irma prevails, discovering a talent she'd never imagined and an unlikely family patched together by the common threads that unite us all."

It is a great story, easy to read, easy to follow. And by saying that I'm NOT saying its a "fluff" book, but its not one to tax your mind either. I just really enjoyed the story and the language and the writing and the characters. 

After going on and on about Winter Wheat, I feel like I'm cheating this book in my attempt at "selling" it.  But I don't mean to. I think I just used up my enthusiasm in talking about Winter Wheat, since it was my favorite of the two. But, I read lots of books, so if I'm telling about one in a blog post then it was really enjoyable! When We Were Strangers gets blog post approval. It's worth picking up at the bookstore or library and adding to your reading pile.

Now, I have a problem. As I mentioned, I knew I needed to slow down and save the chapters for the onion field. The reason being that When We Were Strangers was my last book! I packed enough to get me to the end of May, which they did. I thought we'd go home then. But we're staying out three more weeks, and I have nothing to read, not even a magazine. I glanced across the shelf at Walmart on Saturday and saw nothing that appealed. This morning waiting to load onions I've gone stir crazy, puttering around, writing a letter to a friend, and fidgeting. I think a stop in at a bookstore is essential to my mental stability whenever we can manage it. And I have a few books on a list. But since I've recommended a couple to you, I was curious what you would recommend to me. What have you read lately that was good? Your suggestions are much appreciated.

May 22, 2011

More Onions...and more...and more

I've been meaning to post since Wednesday, but just haven't been in the mood when I had the time, and when I was in the mood to blog, I was busy driving or trying to sleep. For the record, I compose amazing blog posts in my mind as I'm trying to fall asleep, or when I'm driving, but they never seem to make it to the keyboard when I'm on the computer.

When I left you we were waiting to unload onions in Oregon. The days that followed that post have been somewhat repetitive of the days preceding that post. We unloaded on Monday morning and reloaded with corn just west of the delivery. We got a last glimpse of the Columbia River before turning south to head off through Oregon's mountains on US97.
the bridge at Wasco, OR with Washington on the other side
We delivered the corn in Modesto, CA on Tuesday morning, and then reloaded fertilizer in Lathrop, CA. The load of fertilizer went to Casa Grande, AZ which is just south of Phoenix. We were there by Wednesday morning.
After unloading the fertilizer in a hurry, we put the petal to the metal and headed west for a 250 mile empty bounce, most of it through the picturesque Arizona desert.
A few hours later, we were sitting in the onion patch again. We loaded another load of onions in Brawley, CA. Loading onions is a little different from loading things like fertilizer and grain. Those type products are loaded by our pulling under a chute and the product is poured into the top of the trailer while we're parked on a scale or near one so we can weigh and know how much to put on.

Onions are loaded as they are harvested. We weigh in at the public scale in town and then drive out to the onion fields, which ever field they are harvesting that day. Loading involves our driving across the bumpy onion field alongside the tractor as it picks up the onions. We have to use our air gauges to estimate how much weight is on each axle. Its not entirely accurate, but it usually gets us close to where we want to be.
A lot of guys don't have these air gauges and its purely guess work, but Malcolm put them on our truck, and they frequently save our bacon! The one of the left is telling us that we have about 12,700 pounds on our steer axle, where we're allowed to have 14,000 lbs. The center gauge is telling us we have 33, 100 pounds on our drives, where we're allowed to have 34,000. And the gauge on the right says we have 34, 200 pounds on the trailer axles, where we're allowed to carry 34,000. We're a little over on that axle, but I took this while we were driving down the road so its not an accurate reading, and also we can get away with being a little over because of the line of work we're in.

So, we loaded in the field off our air gauges and then drove back to town to weigh out. The field we loaded in on Wednesday was 10 miles from town. So we hoped we were close enough on our weight that we didn't have to go back to the field. Unfortunately, at the scale we discovered we were 4,300 pounds over weight! So we had to go back to the onion field to dump some off.
Another ten miles back to the field, and then its guess work as to how much to dump. If you dump too much then you end up with a light load, which means less $$. If you don't dump enough, then you have to drive the ten miles back to the field again, to dump more! Malcolm stood looking at the other piles that other drivers had dumped trying to estimate how big a pile to unload from our trailer.
By the time we had returned to the onion field to dump off some, the crew had quit for the day and were pulling out to go home. So we were alone in the onion field and it was up to us to figure out how much to unload. Thankfully, Malcolm is really good at what he does, and we unloaded pretty near the perfect amount. Back to town to weigh out and get our weight ticket, and then we headed north, back to Oregon!

It was an uneventful trip through Nevada's most remote areas. Malcolm drove through some snow in the middle of the night and on one hill it was pretty slick. The truck in front of him was having trouble getting up the hill and there were a few intense moments I guess. I slept through it all.

In Oregon, most of the flooding we'd seen the weekend before had dried up, but it appeared it had all drained into the town of Burns, OR. The town was surrounded on the east side by a lake that used to be pasture and hay fields. There was more than one house sitting in a shallow lake, barns standing in water, and the main road was closed. I heard later it had washed out, but don't know if that was accurate. We had to take a small detour to get north and on our way.

We got to the delivery early in the evening and parked in line. We were the 4th truck. The previous Monday we were the first truck in line, but when we got up to unload on Monday morning, at least 15 trucks were lined up behind us with more coming in every minute. So we knew to make sure we were early every time we deliver there. It takes about half an hour per truck to unload, if things go well.

After unloading the cycle started over again. We jumped over to Palouse, WA and loaded pearled barley.
I had trouble getting a good picture of eastern Washington. "Tiss the season" for bugs on the windshield, and I'm not complaining because that means its warm! But it also makes it hard to get a good clear picture! My camera likes to auto focus on the bug splatter and who wants to see that? But take my word for it, eastern Washington is beautiful, and if you want to see more picture of it, I have a few posts labeled "Washington" and you can see more of it in those.
The picture above was take just outside Palouse. The town is in a lovely setting. We loaded the barley on Friday and its bound for San Francisco. Its been a leisurely weekend because we can't deliver till Monday morning and we'll not be going any where NEAR San Francisco till up to the very last minute! Once in town, there is no where for us to go or park, so we wait till delivery time to show up.  Tomorrow morning's mission will be to get in, get empty, and get OUT as fast as possible, and hopefully avoid most of the nightmare they call morning rush hour. We'll see if it works.

After that, we don't know for sure yet, but we do know we're working our way back to the onion field. So you can pretty much figure this week will be very similar to the last two. 

In the mean time, we're relaxing in the warm-ish Oregon mountains, taking in the fresh air and soaking up some sunshine! We're happy that warmer weather is finally here to stay (we hope)!

May 15, 2011

A Soggy Sunday in Oregon

Our morning began in Burns, OR. We were loaded up with onions in southern California by 9:00 on Saturday morning, and drove all day and most of the night through the Nevada back country. We had planned to go straight through, but seeing as how we couldn't reload till Monday morning, we decided there wasn't much hurry. Malcolm got tired and so we stopped at Burns around 3:00am. We fell asleep to the pitter patter of rain drops gently falling on the roof of the truck.

We learned at breakfast that we had missed the main show. Apparently they had quite the storm in Burns yesterday. A man at the cafe mentioned hail, and Karen over at the Rough String told me later that the streets in town were flooded from a down pour when she'd been in town earlier on Saturday.

It was soggy, but there was no evidence of a major event. We enjoyed our leisurely breakfast, the only noteworthy observation being a pickup that pulled in to park that had some snow patches on the load in the pickup bed.

We set off on our last 200 miles, heading north into the mountains between Burns and John Day.

It wasn't long before we found the snow. It had been working on it since the wee hours of the morning and there were a good 2-3 inches of sloshy wet on the road.
It was not that much snow and didn't last long enough to be discouraging. Even with the white stuff, it was still nearly 40 degrees, so we didn't worry too much about the road and instead worked on taking in the scenery, of which there is always plenty in Oregon!
The Oregon coast is beautiful, but I have to say I'm partial to the eastern side of the state. Maybe it has to do with my love of wide open spaces. We'd driven through the really open territory in the dark the night before, but there were still areas in the mountains that open up to huge empty valleys.
Along the way there were a scattering of tiny little towns where not much was going on on a soggy Sunday morning.
It was obvious, without much looking around, that a lot of water had fallen recently. Nearly all the fields and low places had water standing.
We hit the next stretch of forested ground and enjoyed watching the trees speed by the truck.

Even in the mountainous areas there was evidence of an over abundance of moisture. The streams were over their banks by several feet and here and there they crowded the road, once or twice flowing over the pavement a bit...
...and in a couple of places the water was making an effort to demonstrate Mother Nature's superiority over man and his creations.
And then we got to John Day, Oregon and were witness to their struggle. The town was turning out to try and stop the river from doing more damage. Men walked about with shovels, sand bags were stacked in front of doors, and the feed store owners were making an attempt to salvage merchandise from their flooded building and lot. But there is little you can do in the wake of swollen rivers and streams. A lesson many in our country are learning these past few weeks.
No matter how often things like this happen, its still heart breaking every time.

West and north of John Day, the river wasn't as cramped and had more room to move, so the flooding wasn't as drastic as before and the soggy Sunday in Oregon resumed its peaceful mood.
We arrived in Hermiston, OR around 2:00 in the afternoon. We'd been told they were unloading today till 6:00 but apparently they all went home at noon. So, here we sit loaded with onions, waiting till morning.
In the morning we'll back into one of these warehouses. There are 8 of them.
And they'll unload these onions, all 50,000 pounds of them, into a pile like this one.
This warehouse is full, but the doors are left open to ventilate the onions. The warehouse we're probably unloading into is across the road. The pile of onions in it only fills half the warehouse.
We didn't have any where to go till morning, but we could have been sitting there waiting to be loaded first thing. Instead we're here, parked next to the onion warehouse, waiting. I think it was especially nice of them to go home early today. The truck behind us thinks so too. I sincerely hope the onion guys are enjoying their time at home, and that their big plans for the afternoon got rained out on this soggy Sunday in Oregon!