For the Love of Oats

After doing research late last night into the history of Quaker Oats, it’s no surprise I began hankerin’ for a bowl of brown sugar and oatmeal. So this morning, before I took off with Ryan and his cousins for a danger-laden hike into who-knows-where-ville, I helped myself to breakfast.

I didn’t think you could mess up oatmeal, but the fine folks working the breakfast counter today managed the impossible. The oatmeal was so thick and sticky that the ladle for scooping it was rendered useless. I had to bury the whole ladle in oatmeal and scrape the clinging excess against the edge of my bowl to get any. Messy, and not very appetizing. But the lengths to which I’m willing to go for breakfast may surprise you. It’s the most important meal of the day!

In any event, I scarfed down my oatmeal and guzzled a cup of orange juice. Then I filled my water bottle and waited outside the SURC building for Ryan and his nephews. I wish I could tell you exactly where we headed, but the best I can manage is “west.” The pavement ended and we found ourselves on a dusty dirt road pock-marked with pot-holes. We found pavement again some time after that, but we were never quite certain the trail we took was the one Ryan had intended for us to hike.

Ryan found a snake.

A little while before we starting hiking, however, we stopped off at what can only be described as an abandoned cabin. It wasn’t even a real cabin, judging by the looks of its shoddy construction, but someone may have lived in it at one point. This much we knew for sure—a lot of animals died there. Or if they didn’t die there, their bodies had been moved and dumped there. We spotted the decomposed remains of four, maybe five animals that appeared to be goats or sheep. If I had eaten more for breakfast than just oatmeal, I suspect I may have lost it. Usually, I can’t recall the memory of an odor (that is, recall its particular qualities), but that wretched stench of death and decay is one I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It was very, very bad.

Once we got to hiking, the scenery (and smells) improved quite a bit. The trail we took came to a dead end at the base of two mountains, or at least it appeared to come to a dead end. Ryan’s nephews, Jarrod and Zach, decided to try climbing the steep, rock-riddled mountainside. I followed suit after slinging my backpack to the ground and taking off my jacket, and Ryan eventually came after us (as he had the first aid kit).

We didn’t reach the highest point of the mountain, but Zach almost did. Unfortunately, the climb up was easier than the climb down. Zach and Jerrod made their way back without much incident, but Ryan and I narrowly averted disaster a few times. I managed to slip and slide, which resulted in scraping my right arm a bit, and I squished my left thumb between a rock. Later, I decided to pick up two hand-sized rocks and slide the rest of the way down—it was safer, I reasoned, if not dirty and uncomfortable. Ryan skidded a bit too, but he didn’t lose any blood.

We headed back after our near-death mountain descent and picked up garbage along the way. Apparently, Busch beer is the beverage of choice amongst the local hillbilly polluters. We found a Coca-Cola can, a big-gulp type of plastic cup, and something that resembled an IV sack. That one was weird. After that, the whole gang piled back into Ryan’s car and we drove home.

For a late lunch, early dinner, we stopped off at the Ellensburg Pasta Company. I left my camera in the car, otherwise I’d have taken photos of our meals. I ordered chicken fettuccine, Ryan and Zach had Gorgonzola chicken sandwiches (with clam chowder), and Jarrod ordered a pepperoni pizza. Service was nice, the food was good, and I could hardly move when I was finished. I suspect the same will be true tomorrow when my body assesses the damage it incurred while surfing down the mountainside.

All in all, it was pretty fun. I may not have explained the lengths to which I’m willing to go for breakfast, but now you know what I’ll do for dinner.

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