It's a rainy night in another teeming metropolis – Wilbur this time, population 851 – and I'm whiling away the evening over a hot bowl of chicken and rice soup at Doxie's Diner. It seemed like a good rainy-night-in-Wilbur sort of thing to do, and even though there aren't a lot of other options, it's actually just about perfect.
The giant Columbia River slices through these parts so today I took in both Chief Joseph Dam (above) and the biggest daddy of them all, Grand Coulee Dam. Allegedly the largest concrete structure ever built, and the largest electric power-producing facility in the US, so pretty awesome stuff. I briefly considered asking if they could spare a little juice for a nomad's house battery, but didn't.
At times like this, I marvel at what we humans are capable of, and try to fend off that nostalgic reflex to lament how we don't build big stuff like this anymore. Maybe we do, maybe we don't. It's hard to say for sure, and I suppose history will be the judge. But staring down at that massive edifice this afternoon, it struck me that if we can harness a force as powerful as the Columbia River, then there may likely be no problem in the world today that we can't solve. Whether we will or not is another matter, but you can't tell me it isn't possible.
Back in the town of Concrete several days ago, I got cornered in the laundromat by a Jehovah's Witness and spent a half hour enduring the very opposite attitude – that the world is spinning out of control, humanity is doomed...better jump on the train now so that when the shit hits the fan, you'll be one of the chosen few who will get to live eternally here on Earth. You probably know the drill. And I thought, "Eternity? With you around to liven things up?"
The same sort of person was probably hanging around during construction of Grand Coulee Dam, frantically crying, "that's impossible – you can't build a dam there! Humans suck! It'll never hold! Bah!"
A family of four just got up to leave, and I overheard the waitress compliment them on their cool van outside. Blank stares from all four, so I had to pipe up. "Um, it's mine," which eventually resulted in my being given a Doxie's Diner keychain, complete with handy push-button LED light. No idea what that has to do with anything, but it's a rainy night in a small town diner, the soup was tasty, the boundless capacity of human ingenuity is not to be underestimated, I have a cool van parked outside, and my laptop battery is going to die any second now.