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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Truckers and housewives unite!

May 10, 2023 (Wed)


“So why,” you may ask, “Is Robert going to an autoharp camp? I thought he played ukulele?”

Well, Robert does, but somebody has to drive Gini down! 😊

Robert isn’t just a chauffeur (and Gini does her share of the driving). Robert has also acquired a ukulele bass (the last one in the Seattle area) and is re-learning how to play bass after a brief five year hiatus. The ukulele bass (or U-Bass as the inventors refer to it) is tuned the way a regular (stand-up or electric) bass is, but is much shorter and cuter.

Also, the strings are made of rubber (“Very weird to play at first,” confirms Robert), but when it’s plugged into an amplifier it does a pretty credible job of sounding like a full-sized bass. Only much (much) easier to lug around.

Bass players are liked by autoharp players because the bass tells the autoharpers where the beat is (and if necessary, there’s a volume control!) and the instruments sound lovely together. Besides there’s some classes that are for all instruments, so Robert is hoping to learn some stuff, too.

7:00 am Ilani Casino, Cowlitz, WA

We wake up, look around and remember that we don’t have to get out of here until 2:00 pm, so we go back to sleep. We no longer use a mattress pad with Harvey, because it was a lot of trouble and didn’t help us sleep any better. Now we just sprawl out with a sleeping bag, down comforter and six pillows and call it good. Good enough to sleep another two hours, anyway.

Gini in her natural environment

12:35 pm

We’re off—a full 90 minutes before we had to leave! We fixed breakfast in Harvey and since we were boondocking we had to use the generator, so we didn’t want to start too early in case somebody else was sleeping in.

Oh, and the propane or CO detector was going crazy while we were running the generator, so if there’s a coroner’s inquest, one of you might want to mention that. But it’s probably fine, right? Rughm, gjdm,

2:00 pm Backroads of Oregon

Oregon has some lovely back roads and we’re cruising down the highway enjoying them. We stopped earlier at a produce market recommended by our waitress (Gini likes to talk to people, Robert likes to listen) and they had eggs and avocados, but the only cough syrup they had was based on magic. Guess you can’t have everything.

Anyway, Oregon has all the shades of green and lots of growing stuff and we can confidently tell you that this year’s hazelnut crop is going to be fabulous!

4:00 pm Spirit Mountain Casino, Grand Ronde, OR

Another Native Casino—this one with an actual RV park (which is widely deserted). This casino is run by the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.

You can get a sense of how crowded this RV park is.

Washington Tribes for the most part preserved their own identity when the U.S. Government started actively screwing them over (and partly because they fought back). Oregon, though, hoo boy—remember the Oregon Trail? Everybody wanted to get on it and reach the end?

Well, the Oregon Trail ended in (surprise!) Oregon with some very rich farmland, which was inconveniently occupied by Natives. Since they were all Natives, they all appeared the same to the folks in charge who put a bunch of tribes on the same reservation—regardless if they spoke the same language or were blood enemies. (Imagine putting the French, Germans, and Italians all on the same small tract of land—things could get a little tense!)

Also, they got moved a couple of times, because “Whoops—that there’s good growing land!” The Confederated Tribes are actually 27 different tribes (including the Chinook—just like Harvey!).

In 1954, as part of the Assimilation—where we thought that those Natives ought to learn how to be Real Americans like us—the Confederation was dissolved and lost the reservation.

In the 1970’s a couple of truck drivers and a housewife decided Enough With This Crap and organized The People and worked the System and in 1983, the Confederated Tribes got recognized again. This is an important lesson: Don’t mess with Truck Drivers or Housewives. You will lose.

Our heroes

Charity is an important part of Northwest Tribal culture (see Potlatch), and this casino puts 6% of their profits into a community fund, which is the eighth largest charitable organization in Oregon.

Robert dances with some casino guests (not a freakin’ clue as to why these are here, but they are)

Certainly the RV park is lovely (and pretty cheap at $55 a night), if a tad on the deserted side…


Wednesday Travel

Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff

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