Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Let's take this day for a ride...

It's our second day heading south, just putting on the miles.

As we rolled down highway 97, I blurt out, "Look Ed, St. John's Greek Bakery, Coffee & Gifts. Let's stop." We'd been on the lookout for a coffee shop earlier in the day, but abandoned the idea for lack of inspiration. Suddenly, in the most unlikely and remote location, 10 miles north of Goldendale, we find our inspiration. Ed brakes and turns around.

Inside, there's a small Greek restaurant, coffee shop and gift shop. Religious music is playing. It is peaceful, with a hand-full of other diners fillling the few tables available. When a table is vacated we settle in and order an expresso and gyro each. Absolutely devine! And, Devine is definitely the operative word, but in the true sense of the word, for this monastery-run shop. These clothed-in-full-nunnery-regalia sisters are the servers, bakers and gift store artists. In addition, they rise each morning at 2:00 a.m. to pray for the salvation of mankind. No photographs of the sisters are allowed, yet here they are, running a thriving business to support their monastic life.

The St. John Monastery business was established in 2002, the monastery itself in 1995. The young sister serving us looked very young, yet has been at the monastery for seven years. With advance notice, the monastery welcomes Orthodox Christian visitors for retreats. Tours of the holy grounds are allowed as well, so long as the guests follow the rules, including those of modest dress. After reading the conditions of "modest dress" I noted my attire. Gratefully, I had on long pants in a dark color and a long-sleeved, hooded black jacket. For the tour I would have needed a long black skirt, not pants, and I would have needed to pull up my hood to cover my head. We skipped the tour. No where in Thistle do I have a long black skirt.

The contrasts between the west side of the Cascades and the east always surprise me anew. Washington and Oregon's lush west side so suddently changes after crossing the mountains. The thick fir and cedar forests suddenly morph into pine forests with sparce understory, to miles of sage and juniper fields, followed by wheat fields, wind turbine fields, cattle and horse ranges, and back to pine forests.

Like this deserted country church, many of the towns are abandoned, or close to it, with empty store fronts, or worse, buildings entirely boarded up. I mourn our small town movement to extinction. The commercial activity is now found along the highways, in strip mall developments, close to the larger towns. The quaint turned ugly. Many farm houses are vacant as well and once the people go away the trees die from lack of water.

Tonight we boondock on a back road near Bend, OR, at Lava Falls. Our morning walk is along the Deschutes River, which at this location is divided by a lava bed island. It is a scenic delight. Benton ripped the trail up!

We were on the road by 10:30 with California in our sights.

"Let's hitch up our badass pants and take this day for a ride."
Message on my Valentine's Day card from Ed.
Bean Up The Nose Art


  1. I love the little Greek espresso/Bakery: and that environment has always appealed to me.
    Nice to have your blog and pics.

  2. Ed, Have you read The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris? You might enjoy it. Glad you're liking Thistle Adventure. f