Friday, April 9, 2010

The Long Road Home: Part 1

Friday before last, we packed up two weeks of living in our rustic little Klamath Falls apartment and headed back up to Albany.  

The usual drive of 3 hours, 40 minutes through high mountains, a mountain pass, one mountain tunnel, several bridges spanning rivers, and intermittent seasonal weather (snow and rain) surprised us by adding another 2 hours and change. 

We left K Falls late.  We hate doing that, especially when we're due to meet weather through the pass.  Snow and ice over roads that climb and dip with sudden stomach dropping turns are not fun outside of Disney Land.  So we grumbled as we began the trek back.  And we were on empty.  Not just empty, but that lit-up-gas-tank-icon was flaring at us like it was on fire.  And we had no idea of any gas stations in the proximity that we needed one.  So we did the typical "Oh please Jesus let us find a gas station before the fumes run out" prayer and drove on with eyebrows knotted and fake laughter to keep Siennalee at ease.  Although I doubt she'd have worried.  She's pretty sure we're super heroes.  Gotta love toddlers.

Anywhoo, we finally discovered a gas station hidden away in a teeny-weeny town called Chiloquin and paid $3.30 per gallon (a feat which had us fondly reminiscing of the Summer of 3's when gas suddenly became like gold, or at least espresso) to reach a whopping $50 full tank.  And you're quite welcome, Chiloquin local economy.  It was either that or a nice little chunk of cash to your local towing company.

We hit the road again and were pleasantly surprised to find the weather not at all what we'd expected.  The roads around Crescent Lake are always a little hairy during the winter, but we made it past that, up over the Willamette Pass (hi skiers!) and down to Oakridge where we stopped for dinner at Dairy Queen.

Ah Dairy Queen.  How we love you.  However, we don't sense much reciprocated love when you hand us our meals, complete with a kid's meal, and overlook giving us any napkins.  To be clear: NO NAPKINS. 

But no worries, we were over half-way home.  We tucked into our burgers and fries (I did my very best to ignore the steady transfer of ketchup from my child's kid burger to my child's face) and happily drove on.  We came around one of Highway 58's infamous hairpin turns and saw break lights.  A line of break lights.  We slowed and stopped - something that feels so odd and so wrong after tooling along at 55 mph. 

Time went by.

Jason and I quickly ran out of guesses for what was the cause of the stop.  We knew directly ahead lay one of the worst turns on HWY 58, right under a train trestle.  It was evident by the immobile traffic that whatever was ahead was bad.  Very bad. 

So we sat in our over-packed car and waited.  Siennalee and Daddy enjoyed melty DQ ice cream sandwiches - did I mention we had no napkins?  Yes, and since Siennalee is nearly potty trained, baby wipes have fallen lower down the travel priority list.  So no baby wipes either.  No napkins tucked away in the glove box.  No box of tissues.  Nada.  We watched our child turning into a small ice cream sandwich with pigtails and Jason crunched his ice chips from his drained DQ soda.  She soon finished and then held out stickily shining hands in growing concern.  She looked at me, little ice-cream-sandwiched face wrinkling in sticky angst.

"Don't touch anything!"  I instructed while desperately scouring the car for something.  Anything.  Well, not anything...

Crunch crunch crunch.  Pause.  "You could use a sock," Jason said finally, indicating a random small pink sock by my feet.  I looked at him, not wanting to understand.  He crunched his ice and looked back at me.  "You could use some ice chips and that sock and clean her up."  Erg.  Yes I could.  I closed my eyes and breathed deep.  Crunch crunch crunch.

"Alright!  Give it to me."  I turned in my seat and got on my knees, reached over and grabbed an ice chip from Jason's empty cup, got the pink sock, and reached back toward my incredulous toddler who kept looking from the dripping ice chip hand to the random and questionably clean pink sock hand.  "Be still," I advised her, darkly.  Yes, it worked.  In the end, she was clean.  Albeit questionably.

You never know what drama is going on in the cars around you.  Especially at those endless traffic stops.


Rebekah said...

This was a great read.

Autumn Terrill said...

Loved it. You are so right. Who knows the drama ensuing on those long, endless waits in traffic!

Sarah and the Gentlemen said...

No napkins!

In all the luggage you didn't have a washcloth or towel tucked away somewhere? (My boys would have loved using a sock.)