13. Not Williamson’s Orchard
Well this will be a quick chapter, I am itching to write my way to Texas. After recovering from the alien egg episode, we re-boarded the little red car and zoomed off into the dust. Idaho, like large chunks of America and Canada, is stunningly beautiful when blanketed in the reds, oranges and yellows of fall, or if you please, autumn.
We arrived at the Orchard that doesn’t belong to Williamson to find it was covered in alien eggs or pumpkins. This place really did look like a cutesy scene from some rural American seventies sitcom. You can just about hear John boy being wished good night by Mary Ellen as ‘The Waltons’ closes for another warm-fuzzy evening. And of course as I drift into my history, things get a little scattered for me as my memory starts to recall that after ‘The Waltons’ thousands of culturally confused Kiwi kids started fighting with their parents about exactly what time they should be going to bed. But that story is for another day.
So here we are at Williamson Orchard. One could be forgiven for not realising that this place actually was an orchard. It was absolutely smothered in pumpkins, squash, chucks of corn and other stuff that is best described as well, American. We had fun here, I took so many photos of pumpkins. They had knee high pumpkins, rows of pumpkins, piles of pumpkins, pumpkins on seats, pumpkins on fence posts and much much more. My favourite was the children’s pumpkin truck. I sat in that and got my photo taken. The place really was like a Walton’s set for us. And somehow it made you feel as wholesome as a John or Oliver Walton, and weirdly enough it also even left us Kiwis feeling somewhat American. This place, in all of its beauty and weirdness somehow implanted the need to take photographs of ourselves. And in the numerous we took of each other, we all look desperately American. So American that from now on you need to call me Cal. I mean picture huge maple trees painting the green grass with their yellow and orange leaves. A board house flanked with a picket style fence. Leaning against the fence are hay bales and a lonely push mower. Sitting on the fence posts and around the corner of a gravel driveway are large bright orange pumpkins. There is a dog running around with a stick and wagging his tail. In the background there are barns and yellow apple trees. How can anything in this America-scape not look American. I dare to say that if you dropped into the picture a tipple headed, green Martian, it would also look American.
Because it was an orchard and we really needed to honour that, we bought an apple each and then zoomed off through vineyards into the yellows of twilight. It was a nice and somewhat interesting drive. We drove past a lake that was reflecting God’s glory back at him and that was also flanked by a couple in a pick-up truck communicating in tongues(52). Jumping out of the red machine with cameras in hand put an end to that, forcing the couple to slink away back into the America-scape in search of a slightly more secluded spot in which to communicate. We also stopped at a corral full of bison which I vaguely attempted to photograph without getting the fence in the background. It was another case of the fantasy being better than the reality. The fantasy being me out there on some high plain, lying in wait in the grass and snapping prize-winning photos of wild buffalo in their native environment with nothing but the wild blue yonder behind them. The reality was dirty smelly animals in a grass-less paddock surrounded by high fences in fading light. I didn’t even bother getting out of the car. Instead I chose to sit in the front seat and catch a memory rather that exercise the art of framing a photo.
It was perhaps the next twenty minutes or so of our journey that fascinated me the most. We drove through a few miles of rural trailer homes. Most of these trailer homes were little more than shacks. Seemingly all of them were shabbily painted in peeling, fading creams and browns. Some were covering holes that should have been windows with sheets of plastic. Most of them were supporting fleets of rusted, clapped out cars, trucks and tractors flanked with all kinds of rusting treasures of junk. Some of them had rather pleasant flowering gardens, blooming with barefoot smiling kids. Everything looked frightfully poverty stricken, normal and somewhat invisible. I wanted to stop and meet the people. I would so much like to understand just how trashy aptly-named trailer trash are. I expect that the genre of people who labelled them trailer trash are just one rung above them on the ladder of life and are frantically trying to kick them back down in order to elevate their own sorry lives.
What does it say about a nation when they label one of their poverty stricken classes as trash? On the back of the US dollar are the words ‘In God we trust’. Yet if you do not have or cannot manage these dollars, we will call you something that God never will, ‘trash’. It is just so disturbing to think about and I am quite disgusted in myself for having used those words. And these sombre thoughts set my mood for the rest of the journey.
However there is nothing better to buck me out of the beauty of my melancholy, than the euphoria of knowing that a barbecue is waiting. And that is how we finished our time in the alien egg state of Idaho. With red wine and meat, there was probably something else on the table as well, but it pales into insignificance in comparison to having red meat on my plate.
Early the next morning we boarded yet another exciting Southwest flight. This time we were en route for San Anton, Texas.
I know I have been going on about aliens, but everything was just hunky-dory about this flight until we were boarded by aliens in Reno. And once again I am totally serious. We landed at Reno, those oh-so casually dressed flight attendants opened the door and then in jumped a green man with an axe through his head. Most of us passengers up the front were quite startled. I have long since learnt that Americans like to dress up and do zany things. I just wish they would stop expecting me to understand it. The man with the axe in his head was flanked by a witch, everyone was laughing, everyone was smiling, everyone was so stinkin’ happy. Why? Well who knows? Perhaps they like their work, perhaps they like dressing up, perhaps they were excited about the upcoming Halloween or perhaps it’s all you can do when as grown ups your boss forces you to act like children. Or maybe, just maybe they were happy because they just made a whack of dosh on the pokies.
This last point is valid. We were sitting up the front of the plane, thus were almost the first off. Unbeknown to us, Reno airport was a somewhat average poker-machine infested hole. We watched people and in particular one lady, fair dinkum run from the plane to the pokies and just pour her money into that hungry puppy. We were innocent bystanders who had been lured into a den of addiction that was full of witches, goblins, addicts and other scary things. Why was America picking on me? I couldn’t help myself, I started sneaking photos.
Sharon had wandered off in a stunned daze, but was now walking briskly down the concourse smiling from ear to ear. Oh my, what fresh hell had she found? Whilst bouncing on the spot she informed me that she had found an ipod vending machine. I guess there was no point in putting the camera away. And there it was. Just like any other vending machine except of course, credit card operated. But yeah, put the plastic in, push the numbers and wham, out pops your new shining ipod, earphones or whatever other necessary accessory you paid for. And if you cannot afford it, well either try your luck with what you do have on the pokies or indulge in that great American past-time of going into debt.
I do not know how to summarise Reno airport, I am still quite flabbergasted just thinking about it. We were only there for about thirty minutes, but man-oh-man did American culture whack us around in those thirty minutes. We are Kiwis, we live in Europe, both those cultures are diametrically opposite, but America just takes life to new heights or new lows, depending on how you interact with it. Reno was just weird and left me feeling like the visitor and stranger to this land that I really was.
You can go to hell, I am going to Texas. Davy Crockett said that. I don’t wish hell upon you, ’cause I know what it is like, ’cause we were just flying out of there. But David’s point was, we were now flying to heaven, or Texas. And thus endeth the chapter.
Next posting will be in two weeks time, when finally you will finally read how we left the USA and arrived in Texas.
For past chapters click here. Or look on the side panel.
You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry 🙁
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Ta (Kiwi for thank you)