Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Immigrant's Courage

Back on the immigration beat this week. One of my recent stories got good play around the country, and equally exciting was that I got to again take pictures for the story. The fine folks at The Seattle Times featured the picture on the front page of the website for good chunk of the day. Pretty sweet.

The story, about a vote drive in Seattle that has many undocumented immigrant volunteers, touched the nerve of the immigration issue. And in these heated political climate, it got spun like a top.

Key for the story was Maria --- the undocumented woman who agreed to be photographed and be written about. It's a brave move.

In my career I've met many people who are here working and don't have the documents that say they're legally in the country. The fear of being detained and deported is palpable, so Maria's courage is venerable and unusual.

More pictures below:


I had about 45 minutes for the assignment on a Saturday. My good colleagues in Portland covered for me on the desk.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Umatilla National Forest

East we went, to the the southeast corner of Washington state, as far away from people as we could.

Our plan was to rent a U.S. Forest Service cabin in the Umatilla National Forest. For $50 a night, we'd get a little place, a kitchen, a propane-gas stove, and a place to sleep. It was a great deal. Our cabin sat atop a hill, overlooking the northern tip of the Blue Mountains.

We entered the forest through Pomeroy, a tiny town in the middle of the Palouse. It was rather cute and depressing at the same time. To reach our cabin we drove on 23 miles of gravel road.

As we entered, the obvious smell of a forest fire filled the car. Parts of the road were hazy. Thanks forest service, for the heads up. But things were fine.

We reached the cabin in the dead of night. There was a visitor's log. The last entry was by a woman named Yvonne. In it, she wrote that her family had stayed in the cabin. One night they were startled by a loud shaking of the front door. Afraid, her husband and her took out their guns. She described her girl screaming, and noise coming from outside. The next morning, she described going outside and finding nothing out of the ordinary. Thanks, lady, for the horrible story - especially arriving there at night. 

The next morning was beautiful. Granted we were awaken by the smell of propane gas. 

All around us, like old sentinels protecting the jagged hills, old pine trees stood, dotting the yellow, sunbathed hills.

Badger, badger, badger, badger, MUSHROOM MUSHROOM

Slow shutter speed and a wrist rotation to create this effect.

An abandoned house on the highway to Pomeroy.

Trusty Toyota - it slaughtered hundreds of bugs.

County courthouse in Pomeroy, Wash.

As a tiny town as they come here in Wash. -- Pomeroy, the gateway to the Umatilla National Forest.

The Palouse at twilight is spectacular.

The trusty Toyota's shadow cast as the sun rose.

Our cabin.

Bullet hole-riddle sign.

Privately-owned cows roaming on public land.

This is poop.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Palouse

The Tree of Life, found outside Pomeroy, Wash.

The last time my road trip destination was the Palouse region, I managed to get two speeding tickets in a matter of minutes. Unknown to me at the time, such a feat is apparently news.

Years later, I returned, this time on a trip to Walla Walla, east on Highway 12, and lastly to the Umatilla National Forest in a much needed getaway from the city and work.

The trip itself was put half-haphazardly by Erika and I, conjured up about 1 a.m. two days before vacation days were to start. It was meant to be.

Going to the eastern side of Washington state is always a reminder of how big - how truly big - this state is; how Seattle-centric my life is, and just how good it can feel to hit the road.

Our first stop was in Sunnyside for lunch. I'd never been to Sunnyside either. I've stuck to its older, meaner sister of Yakima on my trips east. Hungry, we stopped at a Mexican diner that was just a few tables and walls away from being a taco truck - and the food was almost the same.

The diner was half-restaurant, half-bus ticket station.Along side the menu was a schedule of buses departing to different cities popular with migrant workers in California.

The food kind of sucked. At least the horchata was decent. We got on the road again and a couple hours later we crossed the Columbia River, just like the pioneers of yesteryear, minus Indians trying to kill us.

We went on a wine tasting tour in Walla Walla that basically boiled down to stopping at every other winery we saw. We had tips, though, as one of Erika's coworkers had recommended the airport area for tasting. I am not a wine guy, so all the wines tasted like wine to me. It was a win.

Wine tasting places near the airport.

Has someone started a 'death row' wine line in honor of the penitentiary in Walla Walla?

Our fancy motel. Not the worst place we've stayed at in our travels. It felt like I was in a scene from 'No Country for Old Men'

 The motel's guard dog.
The town of Waitsburg: Cute and seemingly hip, even if it's in the middle of nowhere.
 Oh, and a camel:

In Dayton, we stayed with a old German woman who thought her dogs were the cutest. They were actually kinda hideous.

This poor thing is blind and dying. 

We also stopped at Palouse Falls as the sun set.

The state of Washington looking after you.

Up next: the Umatilla National Forest.