The last day of our 5-day adventure was a combination of awesome and awful. We started out our day with a flat tire (awful), but fortunately, there was a Commercial Tire center literally a block away from our hotel – in fact, the parking lots were connected, so you could get to it without ever having to pull out on to the street (awesome)! Of course, we didn’t know that until after we’d gone out into the 40 mph sustained winds and put the spare tire on the car (awful). Luckily, though, when I drove the car over to get the tire fixed, they took me in right away *and* they were able to patch the tire for a whopping $14.50. (AWESOME…ok, I’m sure you get the point.)
So, the whole tire debacle put us behind schedule, which was unfortunate, because even without that setback, this was to be our longest travel day so far, with about 635 miles to go. No more hotels. No more chasing cats who have at last caught on to the pattern and scatter like leaves in the wind the moment they see us packing up our suitcases in the morning, determined that we will not be stuffing them into their carriers for yet another day on the road. It was Do or Die. Oregon or Bust.
We got everyone and everything loaded into the car – a procedure that by this time we had down to a science – and headed the 4 or 5 miles from Twin Falls toward the highway, with the intention of filling the gas tank at a station we’d seen the night before right off the interstate.
Do you remember a few minutes ago when I mentioned the 40 mph sustained winds? That was not an exaggeration. Not even a little bit. It. Was. Windy. Ridiculously, crazily windy. Grip-the-steering-wheel-with-both-hands-and-hold-on-for-dear-life kinda windy.
We pulled in to the gas station only to find that it was closed. Yes, closed. Apparently they had no power, thanks to the hurricane-force winds. Not seeing another gas station in the immediate vicinity (that wouldn’t be suffering from the same problem), we decided not to risk getting on the highway without filling up, and headed back into Twin Falls to find another station.
Let me interject two things here – first, the town of Twin Falls is located very near to the Snake River Canyon. In fact, we drove over the canyon on the way to our hotel the previous evening, and I was chomping at the bit to get out and take pictures of what was quite an impressive sight, and I had been disappointed to be leaving town without getting a chance to do this…so having to backtrack 5 miles in that direction to get gas didn’t upset me as much as it should have. I sensed an opportunity.
Second, I learned very quickly that Idaho is the Land of the Tumbleweed. I don’t know if they actually call it that or not, but damn it, they should. Those things were everywhere, and for some reason, the very sight of them amused the hell out of me.
So, we got the tank filled up, and since it was almost 11:30am, I figured, why not just stop and look at the canyon for a few minutes. What difference could it make at this point? So we stopped.
Once I’d gotten my photo-op fix, we finally got on the road. It was a pretty tense ride for the first couple of hours, with the wind constantly threatening to tear the steering wheel out of my hands, and couch-sized tumbleweeds that seemed to take aim for the windshield of the car. It was a relief when we finally made it into hillier land, because it helped to block out some of the wind.
Because of our late start, we had a late lunch, but I was thrilled to be able to tweet (yes, I tweet occasionally…don’t hold it against me!) that we were having lunch in Oregon! Don’t get too excited, though, we still had several hours’ of driving ahead of us. It’s a damned big state!
Around 8:30 pm or so, we passed by Portland, which meant we had another hour and 45 minutes to go. At this point, every cat in the car was starting to act up, and I could totally sympathize…there just comes that point where you feel like if you don’t get out of the car right this very minute, you’re going to start taking hostages…and I had reached that point. It didn’t help that once you pass Portland, the road turns into this crazy little two-lane, two-way nightmare that twists and turns through the woods…so at a time where you want nothing more in life than to be able to floor it, you have to slow down.
Just when I was starting to suspect that we were, in fact, never going to get there, things started to look familiar. Hey wait…I know that road…I’ve been here before. WOOHOO! WE MADE IT!!! QUICK – GET THE CATS TO A LITTER BOX – THEY HAVEN’T PEED IN 12 HOURS!