I have driven up the Columbia Gorge countless times in my life - I used to travel with my grandparents bi-monthly to visit my great-grandparents. I have lived in College Place and beyond and driven to Portland bi-weekly for choir practices and performances at my church. I-84 is so familiar to me that I cannot help but recall the many trip memories from my childhood every time I pass through.
My grandparents were teachers before their retirement and our journeys were always filled with lessons for me, usually math and/or constellations while I laid in the back window of their Volkswagen Rabbit.
Since this four-hour drive is old hat to me, I did not find it necessary to wear my contacts as I had no need to read the highway signs. Once we reached our destination in College Place, I dropped my cousin off and continued on my list of people to see all in the same evening. Having spent a good amount of time in College Place as a child, college student and later housewife, I can easily transverse the small town by landmarks alone.
My other two cousins and their families live in Walla Walla, which is a sister town to College Place and only really separated on a map. It was dark by the time I headed through downtown en route to the first of their houses and I was going on directions written on a napkin that I could not see because the borrowed Subaru had no dome light.
I wandered the neighborhoods near Whitman College before realizing that I had not gone far enough on Isaacs Street. I finally found Bellevue Street and made the correct left turn. I then began looking for an alley/driveway after the second house on the second block. There it was! I pulled in to my left and tried to figure out where to park. It took me two phone calls to figure out that I was supposed to be on the RIGHT side of the street, not the left. I came out of the alley, crossed Bellevue and parked behind my cousins house for a lovely 45 minute visit.
As dinner time neared it was my cue to move on to the next location. I had been instructed to take a right on Isaacs and then a left on Division, but was not told how far down to find Division. As I could not read the street signs until I was quite literally upon them, I soon found myself winding around Whitman College again, heading the wrong direction. I made another phone call and was set on the correct path. I had been told that if I got to the three-way stop I had gone too far, so of course I had to flip a U-turn when I hit it and finally made it to my dinner host's abode.
After dinner and much stress (Scott decided on Wednesday night to fly out to Portland on Thursday) to book an airline ticket, it was time to cross town again to the cousin's house I was staying at. I departed heading in the general direction of College Place, intending to zig-zag across Walla Walla and come back in on Rose.
As I took a right through a main intersection, the car fishtailed. Granted, it was well below freezing, but I thought for SURE the ground was dry. I gained control easily and took my next left onto what I thought was Rose. I began to hear the tell-tale thump-thump-thump of a flat tire. I pulled over and braved the cold to investigate. Sure enough, the rear left tire had blown out completely, I could stick my hand IN the tire at the edge.
I made yet another phone call for rescue and had to get out of the car and trot over to a street sign to read where I was. Apparently NOT on Rose and NOT in a "good" part of town. I locked myself in the Subaru and awaited my knight-in-shining-Camry (aka my cousin's husband).
The moral of the story is two-fold.
- Wear your contacts when driving, you silly woman.
- Double check the contents of your purse before you leave town with the keys to the abandoned car.