antelope cemetery (antelope, or)
An acre and a half under the sun and wind, Antelope is as Oregon as it gets (well, so is Brookings, I suppose). At the bottom of a run of barren hills, it rests on flat land with an unobstructed 360° view of the magnificent Oregon outback. Take that, Australia! This was one of a couple cemeteries I visited on this trip that had no exterior fencing. I.e. some individual plots had their own fencing, but the cemetery, per se, was open. (I wonder if the spirits prefer the comfort of an enclosing demarcation, or the freedom of open space?)

In any event, if the cemetery is any indication, Antelope is not dead yet. “Thriving” is not a word you might apply to it, Antelope or the cemetery, as they both have evidence of some sort of maintenance. These interior counties in Oregon are being rapidly depopulated to the point that they might harbor their smallest population since prehistoric times. As a student of Two-Lane University, the emptiness of the landscape sucks me right in, but I know that, if I were living here, I’d be watching my way of life dying. Of course, “my way of life” has only been here a hundred and fifty years, at best, so it’s not really losing an age old tradition. But still and all, if were my life, that’s all that would matter; and it is a shame that the wealth, and to some extent the population, couldn’t be spread around a little better.

What the heck; this is as good a place to tell a story as any.

I was working for a polyglot who ran a campus restaurant that was an unofficial foreign students’ union, a place to get under-the-counter jobs before you got their your cards. It was a remarkable experience on many levels. But this is not about the restaurant.

The restaurateur, Poppi, had visitors coming from Europe. We were in the idyllic college town of Eugene, Oregon, an hour and a half drive from the coast, an hour and three quarters from the high desert. Two hours to Portland, the emerald jewell. Poppi was going to take the visitors on a drive.

“Going to take them to the coast,” I asked her?

She looked at me as if I were out of my mind. “To the coast,” she blurted out? “Why on earth would I want to take them to the coast? They’re got an ocean in Europe. No, they want to go see the desert. They want to see a place where nobody lives. They don’t have anything remotely like it in Europe.”

The desert, the high desert she’s talking about. The one with nobody in it. She means Antelope.

Welcome to Oregon.

(The last two photos in the series were shot, appropriately enough, shortly after leaving the cemetery.)

Directions:

Head NE on Union St. out of Antelope. Three or four blocks out of town the road bends east (to the right) a touch and becomes Bennett Rd. After another couple blocks it bend back NE again. The drive to the cemetery takes off from the inside of that curve and heads NNW. There is no sign at the road, but the drive is paved as far as the cemetery.
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