Well here it is – evening one of our Winter Trip. We are safely ensconced in the Red Lion Inn in downtown Eugene, Oregon, having arrived at 7:41pm this evening. We left the Starbucks by our house at 8:30am this morning. Do the math dear readers – 11 hours and 11 minutes.
Now if the map legend was a little clearer you would see that, according to Google Maps, the trip should have taken us 6 hours and 49 minutes. Add an hour for a break, realise that Google maps calculates the time according to speed of 60 mph and you will see that somewhere or other we lost somewhere just shy of 3 hours. How you ask? Well…
We should have know something was wrong when we had less than a 10 minute wait to get through the border.
How in the name of all that is weather related could Bellingham, a sea level city, have snow on the highway today? C’mon ref! The traffic just south of the city was at a dead stop just north of the exit for Alger. Now I have often wondered what Alger was like and today I found out. Alger is entirely missable. We followed a semi trailer off the highway, taking Washington 99 down to just short of Burlington. It was our first 10 mile delay – but took really no time at all. We even marvelled at what a beautiful winter wonderland we got to see.
Then came Seattle. You know how bad the traffic through Seattle can be? Well not today. If it took 15 minutes to get from Northcenter to Southgate I would be surprised. However we did run into a little rain as we approached Tacoma. How little? Remember our flooded yard from a week or so? Well the rain that did that was a shower compared to what we experienced coming into Olympia, where we decided to have lunch and get gas. If you ever have the chance to go to El Sarape, don’t.
This was where we decided I should drive. Just after we got back on I-5 we saw a sign on the side “Traffic Congestion M96 to M86. Use caution” I have no idea why you needed to use caution. It took us 90 minutes to cover the 10 mile stretch. They are doing some construction and at mile 86 and the three lanes have to merge into 2. This is an indication of the amount of traffic that is on I-5. Then, just after we got through that, it REALLY started to rain. It amazes me that some people don’t make any effort to change their driving habits just because you can barely see the end of your car. Zipping in and out, cutting across lanes, driving down the shoulder – just amazing. By the time we got to the north side of Portland guess what – rush hour. Did you know that Portland has no HOV lanes going north to south? Well, they don’t. We decided to get off and have a drink and bathroom break. Did you know that Carls’ Jr. serves a pretty good hamburger but really cold fries even when they make your order fresh? Well they do.
Then it was back on the highway where we hit rush hour again and only took 70 minutes to go 10 miles. When we finally were able to pick up speed, we noticed the continual flow of traffic going north. I have no idea where they were coming from at 6:30 – 7pm. I mean the next major city is a long way away. Think Sacramento maybe. It was unreal.
Day 2’s drive was a piece of cake – if you ignore sitting in a line up for 90 minutes 22 miles north of Grant’s Pass while they attempted to extricate a car which managed to slide off the snowy highway but still managed to block both lanes while all the people who didn’t have snow tires chained up and your car keeps beeping at you for half an hour telling you that you are almost out of gas and you are worrying about running out until you find that out that in one mile you can get off the highway at Cow Creek station and get gas at an inflated price, a piece of cake. Once again, a drive that google map said should take 7 hours took 10 hours. The best part was that we found a fabulous Thai restaurant – Sawasdee Thai – in Sacramento. If you ever have the chance to go – GO!
Day 3 – easy peasy right – no rain, no snow, no construction. I mean it was Christmas Day – everyone was home with their families. We listened to a podcast of The Vinyl Cafe – the traditional “Dave Cooks A Turkey”. Some people are quite unbelievable. If you know or don’t know The Vinyl Cafe, it is a CBC production by Stewart MacLean. Each week he tells a 20 – 25 minute fictional humorous story and has musical guests. He has been doing this for over 20 years. The “Dave Cooks A Turkey” episode first aired 19 years ago. In it, Dave buys a grade B turkey which “looks like it escaped from a slaughterhouse” and “appeared to have been abused”. In the preamble to this year’s show he indicated that last year they received “hundreds” of complaints from people who believed that these two lines (and one other) were making light of animal abuse and the slaughtering of birds. He talked for about 20 minutes about how, as a host on the CBC, he felt a responsibility to all listeners to listen and act on people’s concerns. He then went on to say that when he talked about the protesters on the air he received “thousands” of emails supporting the episode and saying it should not be changed, that is was a classic. He spent 20 minutes discussing all of this and saying why he was not going to change the story. It was one of the most responsible pieces of talk radio I have ever heard. If you have never heard “Dave Cooks a Turkey”, I encourage you to do so. It is great fun.
Anyway, back to the easy peasy drive. Our 7 hour drive took 9. We wondered continually why all these people weren’t home with their families, opening gifts, fighting with relatives, having dinner, fighting with each other – all in the true spirit of Christmas. We came down 215 into San Bernardino – the traffic in both directions at about 4:30 was amazing.
And once we hit I 10, it got worse since Terry, driving at 70 – 75 mph was constantly being passed by drivers going 80 – 85 and zipping in and out. Quite unnerving.
The Shoe Blog
I hope I find some more to use in future blogs while we are here. I took this photo of a lovely young woman at Macy’s yesterday.