Finding moments of traffic Zen

June 19, 2013 02:19 pm

I’ve always been a big fan of back roads/streets and making my own routes. Hurricane Creek Road from Enterprise to Joseph (and in reverse) has become a favorite route where the distraction of summer traffic is avoided.

When time permits, I take the country lane that cuts through fields of grain, livestock and deer. I might get behind the forgivable tractor, but it’s such an easygoing and enjoyable drive it’s worth the extra five or 10 minutes. 

This summer, I have to give up the luxury of my favorite back route for its reconstruction and will join the Highway 82 parade between Enterprise and Joseph, where the speed limit sociologically slows to 40 mph versus the posted 55 mph.

I started covering the Hurricane Creek Road reconstruction project story a few months after I joined the Observer news staff. I came in toward the end of the first act, but I’m fairly well versed in the scope of the project by now. 

More than four years after the project was proposed, the blade finally hit the dirt two weeks ago.

Experiential journalism

On a trek to Wallowa Lake this weekend, I did some experiential journalism work and drove down Hurricane Creek Road. I won’t do that again, at least not until the construction is finished.

I was on my way to Wallowa Lake so I wasn’t on a time schedule, but the trip to Joseph quadrupled in time as we drove a few inches below the “munch” line along a road bed of boulders.

Most of the time I am all about the destination and pay little attention to the journey. At 15 mph, I noticed houses I’d never seen before and could appreciate the height of the hay and watch the deer graze.

The hope and wonder of the project are where two 90-degree corners will be replaced with smoother turns. Their outlines have been etched into the side of the road. They look like wonderful improvements.

By the time we got back to pavement, I was grateful for it.

So until November I will have to find my moments of Zen elsewhere, perhaps even along the highway. The brahma calves will grow in the coming months, and the snow will recede higher up the mountains. Maybe if the traffic is slow enough, I will see something new along the way.