Thursday, September 15, 2011


Trail's Beginning, 9/11/11
(This and subsequent images are Hawaiian Odysseus photos.)

There have been many significant events in my life, just as there have been in yours, but the two instances that have indelibly left their mark in my gray matter were the heinous 1963 assassination of JFK and the destruction of New York's Twin Towers a decade ago.  

Here in southeast Washington, I wanted to participate in the global-wide tribute to 9/11 but was honestly at a loss as the day began as to how I could best do this.  

Needing some exercise, I asked my better half to drop me off near her workplace in Walla Walla so I could walk the four miles back home.  Currently, I'm on the comeback trail, so to speak, to a healthier lifestyle and better physical fitness.  At almost sixty years of age, it's a daunting aspiration, and I desperately search for inspiration from any and all quarters.  Anyway, on several occasions, I have walked this route and felt that much better about having done so.  Just the day before, I had even added some jogging and running to my walking routine...not much of the fast stuff, mind you, but enough to get some of those long-dormant muscles working again.

Ah, did I feel it the next morning...and that would be the dawn of 9/11/2011.  I felt like a pincushion all over, and as I walked downstairs to have my breakfast, I cringed with every step I took.  

My wife asked me if I wanted to do the walk again.  I hadn't planned two days in a row of that, having manufactured an entire Rolodex of excuses the night before.  But good old macho me couldn't resist the pull to do the John Wayne thing.  Ah, sure, I responded.  My mind, moving much quicker than my body, came up with the plan to take my camera along in my backpack so I could take some photos of the Fort Walla Walla Trail.

So that's how I eventually came upon the idea to do a huge photoblog of the Fort Walla Walla area and the trail that passes through it.  This, then, would be my personal tribute to that fateful day ten years ago.  

After my wife dropped me off, I walked a dogleg mile, headed north on 2nd Avenue and then west on Chestnut Street, until I arrived at the Walla Walla end of the trail.  

One of the interesting features on this trail is the Walla Walla Planet Walk where a group of science buffs painstakingly estimated the juxtaposition of several colorful spheres, each representing the planets of our solar system, in terms of the proportional distance each planet was from the sun.  The College Place end of the trail, just before the Fort Walla Walla Amphitheater, represents the position of our sun.  

 Soccer Field at the East End of Trail

 A Great Walking/Jogging/Skateboarding Trail

A Gorgeously Plumed Magpie

Neptune Sphere

When I was a young lad attending Kapaa Elementary School, I was taught that Pluto was the furthest planet from the sun.  In more recent times, astronomers have concluded that Pluto is not a true planet.  I don't know about that.  I think it sucks that Pluto has been placed in a fringe category.  Anyway, Neptune, then, was the first sphere I encountered.

For the sake of continuity and expediting this along, the following photos display the actual progression of my walk.  

 A Disk Golf Hole

Disc golf, or Frisbee golf, parallels the rules of golf.  It is a fun and physically active game, a popular pastime of the local youth and collegiate set.

The entirety of the trail is a nice blend of sunburned grass and flourishing trees.  

 Buildings on the Veteran's Hospital Grounds
(North of trail)

An Abandoned Home at Halfway Point of  the Trail

Innovative Picnic Furniture

 A Nice Shaded Area, Perfect for Picnicking

 Firewood for the Winter?

 View of the Planets Closest to the Sun

The huge profile of William Shakespeare marks the end of the trail.  The spheres above represent the planets closest to the sun.  The most distant sphere, golden in color, is the sun.

 Closeup of Earth

Outer View of Fort Walla Walla Amphitheater

Each summer, the thespian department of the Walla Walla Community College stages a major musical production at the amphitheater.  (I regret that the amphitheater was closed at the time I took these photos.  I hope to do a future post in which I can share with you an inside view of this structure.) 

The Fort Walla Walla Museum is located just a few yards past the amphitheater.  There is a $7 charge for admission.  I didn't have any money on me, so I decided instead to photograph the beautiful campus.

There are several cabins on the grounds that authenticate the structures of the early pioneers in the  Walla Walla area.

To further enhance and commemorate the heritage of yesteryear, the Fort Walla Walla Museum sponsors a Living History Company, a group of volunteers from the local communities of Walla Walla, College Place, and Milton-Freewater (and a few others who come from longer distances).  These men and women dress in period costumes and present biographical and historical tidbits, bringing the origins of diverse cultures and the development of the local territory to life for thousands of visitors each year.

Native American Tepee

Covered Wagon

Just thirty yards or so from each other were genuine replicas of a tepee and a covered wagon.  It brought to mind an appreciation for both cultures--while diametrically opposing, each icon represented a spirit of survival, fortitude, courage, and resilience.

In recent years, these same character traits have been dynamically demonstrated by the survivors of 9/11.  In deference to and respectful memory of those who died, we can also hold in high esteem those who remained, got back up on their feet, cleaned up the literal and figurative ruins, and rebuilt and restored the legacy.

The Cemetery

The following images were taken at the cemetery portion of the Fort Walla Walla grounds.  Memorialized here are pioneers and soldiers alike.

Approximately 40 yards on each side, the cemetery rests in the partial shade provided by giant trees typical of the Walla Walla area.  Like guardian angels, the magnificent green sentries maintain faithful vigilance over this hallowed ground of peaceful slumber.

A Pavilion Across the Way, Just East of the Cemetery

The Guns


 French 156MM Guns

Filloux 155MM Gun

The afternoon sun was on the downslope of its zenith, and my stomach rumbled just enough to remind me that I needed to get back home.  At this point, I only had another mile and a half to go.  

I had no clue that I had taken about sixty photos by this point, a fact I would only discover later in the evening.  My head was light from the heat of the sun and the gnawing hunger pangs, and I was both somber and appreciative as I pondered the gravity of this tenth anniversary of 9/11.  

Walking the Fort Walla Walla trail, viewing the picturesque museum grounds, and considering the juxtaposition of 9/11 east coast gallantry and this day's personal observation of Pacific Northwest history, I felt a certain satisfaction deep within.  I had given heartfelt tribute to the brave souls who died in the 9/11 tragedies by way of my personal sojourn through southeast Washington history.  

The key lesson drawn from this special day's tribute is that sacrifice, courage, toughness, and resilience are universal trademarks of the human race, integral facets that set us apart and above all other living things.  

My earnest prayer is that we someday, somehow, are restored to the original mastery of being God-appointed stewards of our planet by learning to live in harmony with one another.

 Sign at the West Entrance

The End of the Trail

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