Day Nineteen – Nampa to St. Helens

Diane went to bed about 8:30 last night to ensure she was ready for the ordeal ahead of us on the final leg of our trip home. Since the weather was so screwy we didn’t know what to expect so Diane had to be ready for anything. We were released from the grasp of Nampa’s gravitational pull and attained orbit at 8:45 am PST.

After stopping for our last experience with fairly inexpensive gas, we joined the Westbound folks on I-84 at 9:05 am PST. Since I was truly disabled at the time, being on my third day of a severe headache and hip injuries, which were sustained during my volunteer effort to deliver meals to everyone in Nampa last Monday, I was unable to drive at the beginning of the trip. That suited Diane just fine as she would have driven anyway. As is my custom I asked her every 10 miles if she wanted to drive until she became cranky, at which point I ceased offering my services as a relief driver so she could read her book and rest for part of this journey.

As we departed the Nampa area, and entered Oregon, the sun came out full force and lulled us into a false sense of security for what we would experience this day. The bits of sunshine dwindled rapidly as we departed Baker City at 11:11 am, became a steady falling of snow in La Grande, then turned to severe blizzard conditions as we entered Ladd Canyon.

Since Diane was driving, we were able to negotiate this treacherous stretch of I-84 very quickly, following the tracks in the snow of the only person out there who dared go faster than her. After realizing the snow wasn’t going to let up any time soon, Diane slowed down to the posted 65 mph speed limit to lesson the chance of sailing over a guard rail into one of the abysses that appeared randomly on one side or the other as we climbed the mountain. During this stretch we stopped at a rest area so I could call my VA doctor and arrange a visit at some point in the near future to address the injuries I sustained in Nampa. It took about 30 minutes to make contact with a real person and relay the needed information and to receive a promise that someone would call me back within the next week or so.

At 12:14 pm PST we were 23 miles from Pendleton and the temperature had dropped to a toe numbing 28 degrees, and it was raining. Then it turned to horizontal snow There’s nothing worse than horizontal snow and that’s all they get up there. On top of the pass, the snow allowed us about a 100 foot view of the road ahead which Diane considered to be plenty of time to plan an alternate path around whoever might appear in front of us, and it worked well. She’s a good driver.

There were times, however, that I wished I had an extra pair of depends so I could make the entire trip without getting too chafed. The snow got worse and worse as we advanced to the decline that led to the valley in which Pendleton, Oregon resides. We attained the 6% downgrade at 12:26, and sailed on into Pendleton for lunch at Stan’s Steakhouse. But, it was closed, so we ate Italian at the little Bistro across the street, and didn’t regret it. It was a nice stop and we were rejuvenated. Having sufficiently recovered from my injuries, to the point where I felt competent to drive, Diane allowed me to do so. I drove and drove for hours, and only nodded off once. Diane was busy reading so didn’t notice. Finally, we got to The Dalles where it was determined we needed ice cream, hopefully from a DQ. Agnus gleefully provided us the correct path to the facility and we got the drinks of our choice, then Diane resumed driving. I had spun down the distance to about 70 miles or so, and was very pleased with myself, as well I should be.

The gas tank alarm dinged as we entered Portland so it was deemed to be a good choice for us to stop at Fred Meyer in Scappoose to replenish our fuel. We got there at 5:25 pm PST and Diane drove right to a pump and got the tank filled. Once the pump quit no one appeared to take the hose out of the car so I walked around and did it myself. Right at that time the annoying person behind me started beeping his horn in an effort to make me hurry because he was needing diesel and it was located at the pump we occupied. I went back to talk with him, and try to calm him down, but it did no good. I was forced to have Diane pull ahead so this person could get his coveted fuel.

Once at the pump, he got out of his vehicle and started yelling at me, blaming me for the delay when, in fact, it wasn’t my fault at all. After sparring verbally for a short time, we hugged, and and everything was alright. It was alright from the start, actually, because the “yeller” was Jack, my brother. It was good to engage him in conversation as the first person we talked with upon entering Scappoose. Wynette was shopping or we would have greeted her, too.

After leaving, we sailed on home to St. Helens with no problems. The house was still standing, and the big dogs were barking their welcome through the cat door in the garage when Diane rolled up the door. They were happy to see us, and we were happy to see them. After watching a couple of shows, while eating a PB&J supper, we retired early. Jennie and Lydia had returned Ozzie a while earlier so he was being needy and had to curl up right in front of the book I was ready while waiting for my meds to kick in.

2 thoughts on “Day Nineteen – Nampa to St. Helens

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