Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday!

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday!

Post-It Notes - brilliant!  Want to play along?  Do!

The Long Road Home: Part 2

After an hour of no movement in our line of cars on HWY 58, and the only cars coming back our way were either giving up or willing to chance a back road, we too turned and headed back to Oakridge.  Siennalee and I needed to visit a ladies' room, Jason was making calls to family with knowledge of Oakridge back roads, and I wanted ice cream for me.  In short, we had become those willing to chance the back roads.  We had also called our sister-in-law Anne who had checked tripchex.gov and saw HWY 58's status had gone from "Expect a 20 minute to 2 hour delay" to "CLOSED."

Anne then put us in touch with her aunt and uncle who have a cabin up around Oakridge.  They told us of a back road that would lead us back down into the valley.  We were losing daylight and decided to chance it.  After a brief visit to the DQ restrooms and a fresh Goodnight pull-up on Siennalee (no way was I putting my kiddo in a way to have to sit in a urine soaked carseat for the next several hours - and we have yet to master the "pee-on-the-side-of-the-road" skill), we drove off to locate the road.

Turns out, that back road?  It's a local secret.  After searching turned to doubting, we turned around to head back to the city when an older gentleman - okay, he was a typical 50-something Oregonian male with a long white beard, an old Subaru AWD wagon (that had most definitely seen some action) and all the assuredness of guy who's lived and driven through those mountains his whole life. 

"Ya lookin' fer the road t' head back t' Eugene?"  he hollered at us.  At our assent that yes, we were indeed looking for that road, he grinned, gave us a funny look and yelled, "Follow me!" 

And we did.  I realize that usually at this point in the movie the audience is up out of their seats screaming, "Don't follow him!  DON'T FOLLOW HIM!"

The aging neighborhood road gradually diminished into a tightly winding, uneven little lane heading up into the pine forest.  At first we were uneasy at following a stranger into unknown woods.  We are informed movie watchers, and we well know the perils that can follow along story lines such as these.  We grew chagrined at how often our leader pulled over to the side of the road to let oncoming cars (and there were plenty - either word about the secret road had gotten out, or people were desperate enough to follow anybody not sitting in a line of cars lit up with brake lights). 

"Be patient," I encouraged Jason, soothingly. 

"Jessica, I don't like heading up into the woods with some guy who for-all-we-know could be a serial killer," He replied, edging our car up closer behind our leader who was once again pulled half off the road so another line of cars could pass.

"Or," he conceded once the serial killer's car started moving again, "he could be our guardian angel."

It was like that for some time: the road grew narrower, the stops more frequent, cars with lights on kept coming.  And daylight faded into the shadows of the trees. 

But then we began to recognize that our serial killer/guardian angel was actually just biding his time - once the line of oncoming cars had passed, he'd hit the gas and take off to gain as much distance as possible before the next line of cars snaked up to us.  The road disintegrated into some of the deepest potholes I've ever seen.  Our over-packed car groaned and shook and muttered motorized-curses. 

We squeezed by a tow truck and then his quarry: a commercial van which had slid off the road and was resting with two wheels on the sloping river bank and the other two wheels in the air, pointing back at the road as if to will themselves back down.

The road narrowed to barely a lane's width.  We stuck close behind Mr. Serial-Killer-Slash-Guardian-Angel and followed him to hidden turnouts and unseen shoulders.  Potholes haunted us and struck at unguarded moments.  Siennalee rode happily through the whole thing, contentedly watching a princess video on our portable DVD player (BTW, the portable DVD player: a must-have for traveling with small children.  They should make them a mandatory purchase for anyone having kids).

And so we continued for a white-knuckled, stomach-dropping, stop-and-go hour along the road which was at most times little more than a muddy, graveled, hugely potholed, one laner twisting and turning through back-wood hills and along a river ravine and then reservoir.  Mr. Serial-Killer-Slash-Guardian-Angel actually eluded us for a time, going so fast we could hardly catch him until he had pulled off once again to let another car or two pass.

The evening got darker and the road grew worse.  Then suddenly, asphalt!  Ahh, asphalt.  You could almost hear our car go, "Ahhhhh, that's the stuff."  More twisties and turnies, and then we began to see signs of civilization again.  Then we were in the town of Lowell. 

We pulled up beside Mr. Serial-Killer-Now-Guardian-Angel and rolled down our window.  "Wuddn't thata ride?" He crowed out to us.

Indeed it was, Mr. Guardian Angel, indeed it was.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Images from The Long Road Home: Klamath to Albany

Oh yeah, she's packed in there
(Time for a bigger vehicle, Mommie and Daddy?)

But seems to be okay with it all.

Everybody deserves face time with the camera.
(I love Siennalee in the background - pure joy. Behind her is a stack of migrating household goods.)

The picture is a bit dark, but you can still see how undaunted she is by the winter weather lurking just outside our car.

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.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday!

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Monday, April 5, 2010

And Then God Sends a Boat

Sometimes when the floods of life take over, God makes the rain stop.

Other times, He sends you a boat.  

This is, of course, metaphorical writing since my house was not actually flooded to the point of needing a rowboat - although the panic I felt at times could have been akin to a huge disaster like that. 

The boat God sent me was in the form of Hayden Homes (who had built our house and neighborhood) and more specifically, in the form of Heather, who quickly answered my emailed Hail Mary plea for assistance with my leaking house.  Even though Hayden Homes technically did not have to assist with my plight, Heather recognized that the shabby workmanship on my house was something that absolutely must be addressed.  She immediately sprang to action and had a crew here by the next business day.

The leaks have stopped!  And all that is left is clean-up and painting, which should take place later this week.  

I must admit, I truly did not see this provision coming.  It is marvelous and humbling to be reminded that, beyond whatever our circumstances seem to be telling us, God remembers us.