In defense of blandness

In route to Seattle, somewhere between the frozen over Sprague Lake and the occasionally odorous Moses Lake, I looked out the passenger window and lamented over the dreariness of the scenery. If you wonder what scenery I speak of, I can only answer that you've proven my point. I have driven along that stretch of I-90 several times, and it's always been my least favorite section of road between Seattle and Spokane. In my opinion, it's missing something. Primarily color. More specifically, any color other than a sickly yellowish brown. It's somewhere along that uninviting expanse that I held my phone up to the car window and snapped the picture below.
I see this landscape and am overcome with an inescapable feeling of blah. Surprisingly, this section of freeway had just enough of a 3G signal for me to upload this to Instagram with the caption: "Dear Eastern Washington, you're boring."

I've always clung to the belief that everything north and west of the Columbia was the pretty half of the state. I've often considered the Puget Sound area to be God's country; from the Cascade crest to the Olympic Peninsula. Sure there are gems elsewhere in the desert wastelands like the wineries and vineyards of Walla Walla, or the rugged terrain where the Snake River divides Washington from Idaho. But for the most part, I think that the majority of the eastern half of the Evergreen State is anything but green. It is empty, monotonous, lonely, and unsightly. In a word - bland.

However, my judgmental opinion of the misshapen scablands west of Spokane is not shared by everyone. In fact, Eastern Washington has its own apologists. Shortly after I posted the picture, the admissions office for EWU tweeted the following message: "@niccasey Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. It's beautiful here! (We also think your photo is pretty stellar, by the way.)" They included a link to a Google image search for the Palouse.

I will say they've got a point - to an extent. The Palouse area is beatuiful. I have found a strange allure to the rolling hills between Moscow and Pullman that is nearly indescribable. Palouse Falls has a wild and dangerous grace that is easy on the eye and on the camera lens. The Columbia Gorge is also dazzling; from Grand Coulee Dam, to the Wild Horse Monument and Vantage Bridge, to The Dalles, the scenery there is audacious. But everything in between?

Maybe that picture above works for you. That flat arid nothingness. If so, congratulations. Good for you. This world needs more people like you. It's not for me. I grew up in the land of pine trees and mountains. Salt water and seagulls. Crowds and traffic. Fog and rain. Suburban paradise.

You can keep your bland land. I need to live somewhere with lakes and rivers and mountains. And trees - preferably the kind that stay green all year.

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