Different Vets in the woods
Ed and Linda Bush took another several hours of their time Saturday to escort Juliette and I around to veterans in the woods of Ferry and Okanogan counties. We met two: Mike Rounds and Bob Davis.
Mike, who spent four years in the Army during the Vietnam War, has steely eyes, a cool, steady voice, and 20 gorgeous acres far above a wooded valley. For 25 years, he designed traffic patterns for major events in Seattle, a job that gave him a thorough distaste for city life. “I see living out here as definitely an escape,” he said.
His gruff persona, though, is belied by the 16 (sixteen!) kittens crawling out from under his furniture (an obliging cat-neighbor recently introduced himself to Mike’s three new mother felines). He also has four dogs and four horses, all of which he took in from abusive owners. “I hate seeing anything hurt. It bugs me,” he said. “It’s a flaw I have that I can’t explain.”
Living in another home down the road is Mike’s off-roading partner, Bob, a Vietnam veteran who got a heavy dose of Agent Orange and is suffering from prostate cancer. Bob was taking in the late afternoon sun with a book and a glass of merlot when we came by. After leaving the service, he was an engineer in charge of military ship repairs around the world. Now, he spends a good deal of time shuttling between his mountain home and the VA hospital in Seattle.
Of the war, he said, “Some people just can’t flush it out of their minds.” Of his life in the mountains, he said, “The city doesn’t interest me. Here, you’re not involved in the concrete and asphalt.”