Burns Junction, Oregon. Population One
Nature’s grandeur, empty highways, a huge country with a good deal to explore, road trips in the USA are the epiphany of life itself. You may start slow and hesitant, but the more you go, the better grip you get and it soon feels like your engine never wants to stop.
Here I was in Portland, Oregon for a year. I felt I travelled the West coast and it was time to move inland. Driving from Boise, Idaho to Lake Tahoe in Nevada meant passing the Southeast part of Oregon that pretty much looks like taken from Kusturica’s “Arizona dream”, the wind blowing dead bushes around a flat, luminescent, never-ending desert.
We were early that day and our small group didn’t have breakfast, so I opened the map and looked for the next town to stop. And here it was, Burns Junction, Oregon. Looked promising and luckily so, because for the next hundred miles there was nothing else on the map.
Half an hour later, we saw a sign “Burns Junction” and behind there was a small oasis composed of a trailer, a gas pump and something that appear to be an abundant all-American diner. Just a truck stop before the city, we thought, and drove on for another fraction of time until sudden gas deficiency announcement made us realize that we needed Burns Junction ever so much. We stopped the car and looked in the map again.
And then it hit us….The trailer, the gas pump, the dinner, this was it. Burns Junction, Oregon.
We drove back laughing at our own ignorance and making references to the only citizen of Burns Junction: Mr. Joe. In one small town in Oregon one was the local gas station manager, the diner cook and waiter, but also the mayor, the doctor, the teacher, the lawyer, the plumber, the mechanic, the engineer, the entertainer.
Few minutes later over hot coffee, buttered melting scrambled eggs, and homemade biscuits we found out, that without internet, cell phones and the cable TV, a thirtysomething guy indeed called Joe and his girlfriend, led a happy fulfilling self-sufficient, and maybe a bit lonely, life, in service of us, the road travelers. We humbled down when he was joking: “When my girlfriend goes to visit her mother, I need to change the road sign to Burns Junction, Population One”.