To the Columbia River up in Washington;
Lots of good rain,
Little piece of land,
Feller might grow something..."
- 'Washington Talkin' Blues',
I had to stick on some Woody Guthrie as we head west away from Virginia. He sang about hoboing along the railway tracks "from Baltimore to Washington". To him the Pacific Northwest was an untouched promised land, full of opportunity for those farmers escaping the Dustbowl. There's no shortage of rain up in Washington he says. No shortage of water and energy either, once they get that pesky Grand Coulee Dam built either.
Shows how times have changed. I don't think of Washington as an untouched wilderness. I've never been there, but I feel a certain kinship to Washington state, and particularly to the city of Seattle. It sounds like a sort of American Manchester. Plenty of rain as the clouds hit the hills? Check (though I reckon the city's placement betwixt Pugent Sound and the Cascade Mountains is probably a bit more dramatic than Manchester's location betwixt the Ship Canal and Saddleworth Moor). Great musical heritage? Well with Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix to its credit, check again. World changing industries? Hmm, well Manchester got all that success out of its system in the 19th century sadly; I'm not sure these days there are any Mancunian business empires to rival Mirosoft, Boeing, Amazon and Starbucks. The latter two of which have just been named as quite breath-takingly flagrant tax-avoiders. Is this integral to Seattle's business success? Really, all that Seattle is missing is a world-famous sports team or two...
Outside of Seattle my knowledge of Washington drifts off a bit. I have just scattered nuggets of information: the Columbia Gorge, native Pacific Northwest culture fishing for salmon and carving totem poles, the Olympic National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Mount Saint Helens bloing its top, being near Vancouver. And the rain. Like Oregon, people always seem to go on about the bloody rain. As a Mancunian all I can ask is, what is wrong with a little rain?
So I'm hoping to see a bit more of Washington before I hit Seattle. My three films for the week are:
- Twilight (2008)
- First Blood (1982)
- Sleepless in Seattle (1993)