The Chicken Foot Tribe

The Chicken Foot Tribe, named after the domino game that got us through the pandemic: (from left) Steve Kovach, Bette Lu Krause, Nanci Main, Al Betters, Cate Gable; (front row) Rosemary Hallin and Teri Kovach.

Cate’s Rules for the Road

Usually I talk about “summer daze” later in June or July, after we’ve gotten used to the sun and the returning tourists. But, holy smoke, for those of us non-enterprise-involved residents, Memorial Day Weekend arrived with a vengeance. Mid-weekend driving across Bay Avenue, there were seven cars lined up at the stop sign at Sandridge. I was suitably outraged. There were people I didn’t recognize everywhere. Finally I just stayed home with a pillow over my head.

Well, not exactly. Obviously, now that some of us are double-vaccinated we’ve been bit by the travel-bug. After staying at home for 18 months, we’ve got that itch to be on the road, to move, to see, to do! However, let me remind all y’all Washingtonians that currently 97% of our state covid cases are occurring among people who have not gotten the jab. If you’ve been hanging back on this, please be kind to yourself and others. Be smart: get the vaccine. (There are even prizes you can win in the state vaccination lottery, including sports and airline tickets, cash, gift cards, outdoor gear, tech equipment, higher ed tuition assistance, etc. Details:

So now that we’ve established road trips are fairly safe (at least for vaccinated folk), I humbly offer a few modest rules for travel. First of all, do bring your masks. Most stores, restaurants, small businesses, planes and airports still require a mask for entry. Don’t go all AWOL just because you are finally loose in the world. Evidently “air rage” is now a thing; some flights have had to turn back or land early because of crazy misbehaving passengers (the issue is generally masking requirements). And it looks to me like some drivers are similarly impaired and have become non-road-worthy.

Just to help the cause, here are a few of Cate’s rules for the road. First, if you want to go around me on the highway, you’d better make sure you’re going faster than I am once you pass. I mean, c’mon people — do not pass someone and then slow down for Pete’s sake. That’s very rude. Also, please remember that Washington has a five-car rule. If you have five cars (or more) stuck behind you, you must pull over. And there are generally plenty of slow-traffic pull-offs along the way. I, for one, would like either a bullhorn installed on the top of my car or a flashing neon sign so I can broadcast when necessary “Five cars!” I understand that if you’re driving an RV and pulling your Jeep you will need to go slower uphill or around corners, but give us folks who like to go the speed limit (or perhaps just a teeny bit over) some breathing room. This will help us all stay calm.

Finally, here’s something for my summer wish list: after stopping for that flagman where highway repairs are taking place, someone should make those 18-wheelers, UPS and FedEx vans — always at the front of the line — pull over to make way for us humble car drivers. We’ll soon need to pass those guys anyway, so it will just be more humane and safer all around to let us go first. (I know you agree with me.) Another handy tip: when the light turns green, if people would push their gas pedals, things will go better for everyone involved.


All that being said, this past weekend I took another great road trip to Yakima, the Las Vegas of Washington, for sister Starla’s birthday. Also part of the occasion was a rendezvous with Nancy and Phil Allen, released from chicken-duty for a few days. On the way, we sat beside the Naches River at the family cabin in Cliffdell and were saturated with fresh air, forests full of spring green, and the happiness-producing sound of a rushing river. Later we had a great time gathering up spring produce from Dagdagan Farm and Produce (; Johnson Orchards and Bakery (; sipping amazing bubbly at Treveri Cellars (; enjoying sushi and plum wine at Ozeki’s tatami table ( There was heat aplenty in the Yakima Valley where, tucked under their pointy butterfly-like leaves, apricots are beginning to ripen.

The road back to the beach over the Cascades featured alternatively sun on snowy patches, waterfalls, foggy pea soup, and/or rainy deluge. Back on the west side of the mountains this time of year, I always stop at the Mossyrock nursery (De Goede Bulb Farm and Gardens, to walk their stunning demo garden — where everything is blooming and labeled — and pick up a hanging basket. Also on this trip, before creeping back onto the interstate, I nabbed two flats of strawberries in Ethel ( You’ve got to get ‘em while they’re fresh, and they’re fresh now.

Saying goodbye

Road trips involve goodbyes and life journeys also. There are many types of goodbyes, and, unfortunately, many of us had to say that final kind recently. We lost our mini and mighty, energetic and joyful, brilliant and beloved Pam Dorrance this past weekend. At Sydney and Nyel’s Friday salon, Pam stories were lovingly voiced. And, as Sydney shared in her Oysterville Daybook blog (, “The box of Kleenex was passed around. We spoke of Sturges and of their four daughters. Silently, we willed Oysterville’s spring breezes to carry them our love and sustaining thoughts. It was one of our most difficult of Friday Nights, yet how fortunate we were to be able to gather together in friendship and remembrance.” Pam, how we’ll miss you.

Yes, friendships have been re-forged and memories made this past year and a half. The pandemic shut-down has had at least one positive side-effect: we’ve all established (I hope) friend and family groupings that have allowed us to be safe, cared for, and loved amidst trying times. And, for me, the trust and affection in my group of pod-mates has deepened and expanded.

But, alas, now we are losing to other climes the witty, wisecracking, generous, big-hearted, whip-smart, fiercely loyal, funny and unforgettable Rosemary Hallin. Son Dan was here a couple weeks ago helping Rosemary pack, sort, and giveaway (if only she’d been willing to hire him out!); and this week she’s opening a new chapter of life in St. Louis — nearer Dan, daughter-in-law Jenny, and granddaughters Nora and Charlotte.

The grandma/granddaughter trio are off on a cross-country blue-highway excursion which will undoubtedly be one for the record books. “Nora likes dinosaurs and fossils and Charlotte likes to shop so it should be an interesting trip,” says Rosemary. They’re going to zigzag their way to Lake St. Louis, Missouri, where Rosemary’s new home is waiting. Our tribe has already threatened to darken her door sometime soon. (She’s putting bunk beds in the basement.) Train, air, or automobile caravan are all being considered.

Of course we know life is about change — especially as we age — but dang it! We seem to find ourselves kicking and screaming when it actually happens. Might be time for another reminder to savor every moment with the people we love as we travel along life’s highway, come what may.

In conclusion, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to reprise last week’s sage words from Brian Andreas, which seemed particularly relevant to me as I sat weeping beside the cottonwood and alder lined shore watching the sunlit Naches River freshet: “She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short.” Rosemary, fair winds and following seas.

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