At some point between pulling 16 random throw pillows, a full size axe, 2 hydraulic jacks, about a dozen pairs of work gloves, 3 butter knives, a folding saw, 7 boxes of kleenex, 2 road atlases, a full size trash can, work boots, a coffee can full of worther's candies, and a whole pile of other misc stuff out of the van and then spending a few hours driving in parking lots with the trailer to try to master tail swing and backing up, I think I just zoned out.
Our terror of Portland rush hour traffic was greater than our adversity to being wet so we re-hitched up the trailer in order to be ready to roll at 5 am. Now, did I already say it was raining? And cold? In a bone-chilling damp kinda way that is associated with Jolly Olde England and the Pacific Northwest? So, we bundle up as best we can in layers of clothing and cotton blankets. And really, it's fine. Until 2 am when the alarm goes off. And off. And off. Until I realize it is not the alarm, its my goddamn phone. I stagger up (not so easy off of a futon mattress, hold the frame). I scrambled to STOP the noise. Only to hear my MOM on the phone, frantically babbling that I'm going to die of hypothermia and I need to unhitch the van and run back to the house and get a down comforter. Ok, people. She loves me. I know. She was worried. But really? In fact, the temperature was probably about 45. Cold? Yes. Wet? Well, yes, outside. But inside it was fine except someone had woken my ass up to worry about me. Sigh.
Ok, back to 4:30 am when the real alarm sounds over the heavy rain and we realize it is, in fact, time to face the aluminum and road ahead. Being a Houstonian, I spent a few minutes checking the weather to see when the big burst of rain will blow over to debate if we wait 30 minutes, or possibly, an hour to have clearer weather. HA! The hourly forecast woke me up to the realization that if you want the rain to really stop up here, you wait until July.
So, we up and at 'em. Laura gamely volunteers to be our first driver and get us out of Salem and through Portland. Which she does, with aplomb. Did I tell you Laura is an itty bitty thing? Like 5 feet, and a buck ten of pure steely determination. Man, that chick gets shit done.
She also has lived in the Pacific Northwest for about 10 years and is married to a Local. So she is brave about wet roads and knows all about the cool local attractions. She stops at the amazingly beautiful Multanomah Falls and shows us the walking underpass so we can actually walk over to see the Falls from a great vantage point. It was raining pretty hard, but, hey, we were ready to stretch our legs and be humbled by something, anything, bigger than our trailer.
When I fully come to conscious the girls tell me we are near Pendleton, OR. You know the blankets? They make those famous wool blankets, Indian style and striped ones named after the great American National Parks, like Yellowstone. Anyway, we are driving through the town, and you can visit their mill. Now, even though I was not willing to unhitch my van in the middle of the night to run over to my mama's for a blanket, it is chilly at night and I was willing to buy a classic blanket for my trailer. So we decided to stop in Pendleton, see the mill, stretch our legs, get gas and find a grocery store.
Excellent plan. Worked out great. I bought a blanket. We got gas. We bought groceries. We ate our sandwiches in the car (rain) and got back on the road.
So, about 7 hours into our journey we are on the side of the road calling AAA. DAMN. DAMN. DAMN.
A hasty inspection shows us that the trailer is fine, but the van is leaking transmission fluid. And the fluid is dripping on the exhaust pipe which is what is smoking. Of course, People Are Kind (PAK) and a nice local stopped to make sure we were ok. Melvin stayed with us until Quincy, the tow truck driver, showed up. Of course, they know each other and have opinions on where to take Big Blue, as we have taken to calling the Van. Quincy calmly hooks the van and trailer up to his tow truck. From Melvin we have learned that the shop we are headed to is located next to a WalMart, and that their parking lot won't accommodate the now 75 foot or so triple combo of Quincy+ Blue + Spartan.
So, guess where we're camping tonight? For the low price of free? That's riiiight: WalMart. And that, my friends is how I find myself catching up with you from the Rodeo Bowling Palace in Pendleton, OR.