Cambrian: Opinion

It's a long road back from Oregon, but trip was worth it

The columnist joins her two sons, Zachary and Miles, at the very wet and wild Portland Timbers soccer game.
The columnist joins her two sons, Zachary and Miles, at the very wet and wild Portland Timbers soccer game. Special to The Cambrian

After approximately 2,200 miles with the radio on a good deal of that time, the facts are pretty conclusive — I must be a “classic!” Not only are the songs I listened to as a child termed “classics,” but even songs from my teens and 20s! At least I wasn’t bombed with the “oldies” moniker.

Further road trip analysis: real accidents = only 2; body count = 1 (judging by the camera crew and tarp on the freeway); car problems = 0. For all the above I am grateful, and for the fact none of the earlier incidents mentioned involved anyone I knew or seemed worse than they were. I still said a prayer. Always do.

Departures always make me tearful. OK, sob. Now the women know what a sap I am. They understood. Hmmmmm, I approve. The boys have both found nice girls. A mother’s wish. 

The trip home

• At 6:15, I hit the freeway, which was already full of morning commuters, gassing up just before I leave the no-sales-tax state. (By the way, I also thought I’d surprise previous Cambrian editor, Bert Etling, by stopping into his new work digs in Ashland, only to find they’d moved the offices north! Oh well, I get to stretch my legs and spend some more money).

• California state line: Coming over the pass from Oregon toward Mount Shasta, beautiful day, no problems and, given the length of my day, this begins to feel like the home stretch, even with another many hours ahead of me. 

• As I’m making it a straight shot home in one day, I’ve taken Interstate 5, which is all well and good until Sacramento, where 4:30 signals rush hour. And I’ve got to go winky tink. (I have developed several tricks over hundreds of road trips for staying alert. A slight sense of “urgency” is one of them. However, a large coffee and half a gallon of water was more than I bargained for.

• Not wanting to deal with city shenanigans and losing time, I continue on, knowing there will be shrubs and grasslands just to the south. Barely able to contain myself, the first space in traffic and good-sized bush gives me the opportunity I need. Three or four big rigs honk, probably relating to the speed with which I safely exit my car to the roadside. Wow, I can breathe again. Onward.  

• And then, the olfactory assault on, I roll down my windows as I pass miles of orange trees in full blossom — such a heady smell. Knowing the cattle concentration camp is somewhere nearby, I try to breathe in as much of the sweet, perfumed air as I can. Unfortunately, my timing is off and I nearly spit up as the first waft off the “Manure Mountains” hits my nose. 

• Not wanting to drive “Blood Alley” in the dark, I opt to cut over toward Gilroy as the sun was just setting. Thankfully, it is still sending off a glow to the west, as I need to use it as a landmark in, what my old Aunt Myrt used to call the “scenic route” toward Highway 101. Don’t know where I missed a sign, but I did, and I enjoyed a lovely winding tour of the hills around Hollister. 

• Around Fort Hunter Liggett, my lower extremities are beginning to cease existing. Road trip number 43: bum-isthenics. Squeeze and hold, two, three, four, release, two, three, four, reverse crunch — push small of back into seat and squeeze buns again … and … release. While I think this is safer than texting, the Highway Patrol may not recommend it. Just saying. 

• I’m so hoping that Tortilla Town in Paso Robles doesn’t close until 10, as I desperately craved some tacos. No such luck. Sigh. Gas up and then hit Taco Bell. I know, I know. Hey, a cup of coffee, a “breakfast cookie,” a handful of salt-water taffy and a bag of chips is all I’ve been running on for nearly 16 hours. This is the last boost I need to get over the hills and home. 

• Home. 

Good to be back

This trip was not just about seeing my cousin and loving on my sons and their new girlfriends, but also about getting “out-in-the-world” and remembering what lies beyond Cambrialot. 

As much as I miss my boys and as wonderful a time as I had, there is no place like it. Now, is this road-buzz in my head ever going to stop?