Softball, I-5, Heat, and Albany

So, here we are in Albany, Oregon. That’s about 100 miles south of St. Helens. Normally that equates to about a 2 hour drive on the freeway. Then, consider that today is Friday,  next week is 4th of July, our trip south was directly through the heart of Portland, and everyone in town was hell-bent on getting out of town. Oh, ya. We didn’t leave home until after 3 pm, ensuring we would hit the big city at rush hour.

Now, I know you folks on the East Coast can’t imagine that traffic through Portland could possibly be as bad as, say, Boston, or Hartford, but it can. Really, it can. Rush hour in every large city is the same, the world over. Some cities just have more lanes of it. Portland only has 4 lanes each way, not as big as many cities, but congested just the same. I think there are a special breed of people who are bred specifically to make everyone else’s life in a traffic jam just a little more miserable, or to add that little element of excitement making those around them wonder if this is the day they’re going to die.

For me it was not a problem because I don’t have to contend with those drivers, or get caught up in the moment when someone makes a foolish pass, or cuts me off, because I’m not driving. Diane won’t let me, as many of you know. I’m a professional passenger everywhere I  go, unless it’s down the hill from home to ACE and back. Maybe a trip to Warren for something, but no long trips. That’s fine by me. Because of my diminished status, I get to navigate and just sit in my seat. I’m pretty good at both of those, except when I get my arm in front of the right side rear view mirror at the exact moment Diane wants to look at it.

Thankfully, the worst traffic was heading North on I-5, so we found the trip better than we thought it would be. Still, the two-hour trip took us about 2.5 hours. Not a bad delay.

The temperature, in case you’re wondering, made it up to 94 as we left Portland, but the weather folks will only claim 85. Silly. They only count the temperatures at airports, not on the freeways.  Does that make sense? I think not. In Portland’s case, the airport is right next to the Columbia River so it’s always going to be cooler there. Silly.

We’re in Albany, as you may recall, because Lydia is playing in the ASA state tournament for 14U teams. We arrived at our Super 8 Motel hungry, so checked in and headed directly out for dinner at Sizzler. It wasn’t the best dinner we’ve ever had, but not the worst, either. Jennifer, however, suffered from the two bites of ice cream she had. Lactose intolerance is a terrible affliction. Diane has it, too. Not fun.

Once back at the motel, Diane and Jennifer decided it was time to head for K-Mart for some needed items. The kids were playing in the pool so I went down to watch and enjoy some fresh air for a while. Sounded good at the time. The pool, however, is in an open patio which is surrounded by two wings of the motel. The result is a venue with sound reflective abilities that rival some really nice music halls. In this case, however, the source of audio wasn’t music, but the excited laughter of five kids playing Marco Polo. I only knew four of them so attempted to keep my corrective nature in check, letting them play and make noise. It was just fine for about an hour, then an entire herd of small, softball playing girls descended on the pool causing the noise level to increase dramatically. I can only equate it to what it must have been like to sit in front of one of those huge speakers at a Def Leopard concert. The main difference between the two was that I was experiencing the treble cleft far more than the bass cleft. Very skreechadelic, as Austin might say

At last count there were about 25 kids in the pool so no one was really swimming – there wasn’t enough room for anyone to attain a prone position. They all had to stand upright.

There was a negative aspect to yesterday’s trip that was brought to our attention around 9:30pm. I actually had it all documented, herein, then lost it when the WI-FI signal just “went away” making it impossible for the blog to auto save the data. Sad, but true. So, I’m going to have to rely on my notoriously bad memory for what happened.

It’s simple, really. After battling our way south to Albany, then digging in near the freeway, it was discovered Lydia was missing her sports bag containing all the things she will need today in order to fulfill her obligation to the team. No shoes, no glove, no helmet, no bat, no nothing. The bag containing those essential items normally resides in the back of the Walters’ SUV. That’s because 99.9% of the time someone driving that SUV takes Lydia to and from practice.

Except the last practice when the family SUV wasn’t available and Lydia got a ride with someone else. She took her bag to her room, and there it sat. All the way back in St. Helens.

So, as it was getting dark, Daniel headed north to retrieve the bag. The plan was for him to secure the bag, sleep at home, and return this morning in time for the first game at noon. We could only hope the hoards going north had dwindled to a navigable size so the trip was a reasonably easy one for him. As we were leaving Portland yesterday, the north bound jam was taking drivers at least a couple of hours to transit the 18 miles from Tigard to the Washington border Interstate Bridge. That’s really not unusual for that trip because people who live in Washington and work in Oregon do that every day. It was just compounded by the extra people heading north for cooler air.

Now it’s 10:15 Saturday morning. Diane are sitting next to the pool while the boys play in the pool and the hot tub. We’ve not heard from Daniel yet so don’t know his status. He was to meet Jennifer and Lydia at Bryant Park for the first game. Diane and I have 1.5 hours remaining to enjoy the shade before we must extricate ourselves and head for the park. We have umbrellas, so we’ll survive.

Just heard from Jennifer that Daniel made it back OK with the necessary equipment.

Now I’m stopping.

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