Thursday, July 9, 2009

5 July 2009 - West of Northport, Washington

Dennis Dial was born in 1933 and grew up around Ogden, Utah with his parents and five siblings. After high school, Dennis got married and purchased a number of acres bordering the Columbia River outside of Northport, Washington. Dennis wasn't the first occupant of his land. For years, native Americans resided on the land. When they left, the Hudson Bay Company opened a post there. When they left, Chinese laborers--barred from living in Northport--established housing there. All these prior inhabitants left a mark on the land, but none as much as Dennis would.

Over the years, Dennis became the premiere seller and driver of snowmobiles in NE Washington. He became legendary for his daredevil hijinks such as snowmobiling across the open water of the Columbia. Dennis would introduce generations of Dials and Washingtonians to extreme adventures, many centered around his home on the Columbia.

On December 29, 2008, Dennis died. Shortly after his death, his granddaughter Marcie and her husband James moved into his house on the river. On the many acres Dennis owned, they found 58 broken down snowmobiles and scores of other artifacts left by Dennis, a number far superior to any of the previous inhabitants. Marcie and James quickly went to work cleaning up the property and converting it into an eventual poly-culture organic farm. Besides just growing produce and raising goats, they have begun to take advantage of the bounty that naturally sustains itself on the property: walnuts, morels, trout, geese, etc...

As summer came along, Dennis' family planned a party to celebrate his life. The party was set for July 4 at the city park in Northport. In preparation for the event, the family booked all the hotel space in Northport.

On the morning of July 4, three hikers entered Northport looking for a hotel room after nights in a tent. The travelers first attended a firefighter's pancake breakfast and then proceeded to find a nice place to stay. Unfortunately for the hikers, there was no room at the inn; the Dials had reserved everything.

Not and tired, the hikers retreated to the city park where they encountered the Dial family, preparing for Dennis' celebration. When Jame and Marcie saw that the travelers looked like hippies, they instantly invited the hikers to stay at their place, Dennis' former place. The hikers rejoiced and gladly accepted the offer.

For the rest of the morning and early afternoon, the hikers acclimated themselves with Dennis' land, walking the many acres, examining the goats, drinking beer, hearing stories of Dennis, and seeing the supporting photos. After a few hours, they felt they knew this man and his family. They showered and went to the life celebration.

The travelers spent five hours at the celebrations. They became well acquainted with most of the family. There was Dallas who married his second wife's daughter. There was Lorraine who got so hot in her black outfit that she had to hose herself down. There was Heather the flight attendant who married Dennis' brother's long lost Honduran son. There was the band "Free Whiskey" who were called "Whiskey Free" by their Mormon groupies. There was Maggie who worried for the travelers like they were her own kids.

After five hours the travelers had met the family, consumed sufficient alcohol, and decided to head back to Dennis' in the back of the suburban of some guy name Dave. Dave kindly shared numerous beers with the travelers, but they needed to rest up for 100 miles of hiking over the next four days.

The morning the travelers quietly exited Northport, continuing on their journey. Though there stay was brief, they will all remember Dennis and the celebration of his life on July 4, 2009.

James showing us his goats, Stardust and Moonbeam.

Larry showing off an old snowmobile.

No comments:

Post a Comment