This morning I slept in until 8:30 A.M. and enjoyed my cozy campsite at Klamath National Park. When I finally emerged from my tent, I found an overcast sky and crisp mountain air waiting for me. I started out quietly, walking around and simply looking at the green forest surrounding me. Later, I wished I had gotten myself into gear a little quicker so that I could have gotten more done in the day. There’s always something that needs to be done, even on a trip where there’s no school and no need to rush around everywhere.
Once I did get going, I packed up my tent and headed down the mountain and toward Medford, Oregon. I had arranged to have lunch there with the parents of a friend of mine. I left myself a little extra time because I planned to quickly upload my blog entries from the previous four days before I met with them.
In Medford, I found a Starbucks to park at, intending to go inside for some free WiFi and expensive coffee. Then, I looked down at my feet and realized that my shoes were entirely covered in dirt. Since I wasn’t camping out in the woods anymore, I decided that I should at least try to look civilized. After the careful use of three paper towels and some water from my ice chest, my shoes looked a bit less like artifacts from an archeological dig and more like footwear that normal, respectable people wear to nice lunches.
I found a few more small chores to do in my car which took up all the rest of my extra time, so I never actually make it into the Starbucks. When I finished up, I drove over to Jack and Joanne’s house (my friend’s parents) and we drove together to a country club for lunch. During lunch, I learned about Jack’s service in the military and his experiences in the sales industry when he completed his time. I also heard the story of how he and Joanne met and married, then lived in Illinois, Ohio, California and finally Oregon.
Today my destination was Sweet Home, Oregon. It would have been wise to start the two hundred mile trip right after lunch. So, of course, I didn’t start driving.
Before starting this trip, I decided that I would update this blog every Monday and Friday and I really intend to stick to that. If I don’t, I’ll fall behind and just make it difficult for myself. Well, it was now 2 P.M. on Friday and I hadn’t uploaded my journals from the week. Shame on me. I decided that I could be quick about uploading. I drove back to the Starbucks that I had been at before and told myself I could finish everything in half an hour.
We all know how that works. Two hours later, around 4 P.M., I finally started on my way to Sweet Home. And it began very well. Traffic was light and I was excited to be driving again. Around the hundred-mile mark, I stopped along the way to fill up the gas tank. As I pulled up to the station, I saw a booth in between the gas pumps that looked strange. I usually just see gas pumps, occasionally with a payment terminal in-between. Why would there be a booth though? Only when a person walked out of it and came toward me did I remember that in Oregon, the law requires gas to be pumped by an attendant.
Back on the I5 freeway, everything went well again. For twenty miles. Then, just before 7 P.M., both lanes of the two-lane freeway came to a complete stop. Eventually, I found out that there were two separate accidents up the road – one in each lane. At the time all I knew was that I would be arriving in Sweet Home a little later than I intended.
About five minutes into the ordeal, those of us unfortunate enough to be on the freeway figured out that we would probably be sitting there for at least a few more minutes, so we turned off our engines and sat back to enjoy the mild evening weather. Some people talked to each other, some listened to music, and some got out of the cars to walk around.
The place where I got stuck happened to have poor cell reception (phone calls worked, but not mobile data), so many people bemoaned the lack of entertainment available to them now that the ever-present internet was absent. I read, called my parents, and joined in the trapped-motorists-conversations to talk briefly with a mother and daughter who were in the van next to me. They had come from Lancaster, California and were headed up to a school in northern Oregon. We stayed stuck in the same spot for an hour and a half.
Finally, we began to move. We had slow progress for awhile, but at least we weren’t parked anymore. After another twenty minutes, traffic picked up its pace and began to flow normally. Seventy-five miles later, I arrived in Sweet Home at 10:30 P.M. and was greeted by my friends, Marshall and Cathryn, who had graciously stayed up welcome me. They even had a glorious grilled steak waiting for me. Of course, we had to talk and catch up since it had been a couple years since we’d seen each other. The conversations lasted until about midnight. And now that I’m done driving, eating, talking, writing, and learning lessons about trying to squeeze too much into an afternoon and the unpredictability of traffic, I can go to sleep. Goodnight!