(Sorry for the delay in posting this. I promise to improve the usage of my free time……)
Back in the days of the pioneers, it took a lot of effort and pre-planning in order for any sort of a distance-related road trip to run smoothly. I know this fact because I’ve read every single one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House novels. Whenever Pa, Ma, and the girls took a road trip to grandma’s house there were many chores to be completed before getting to the on-the-road part. Horses had to be fed, watered, geared up, and connected to the wagon. Ma had to supervise the washing, dressing, and hair braiding of three squirming kids. There weren’t any fast food restaurants along the route back then, so food and drink had to be prepped and packed up at home. Once all the pre road trip chores were completed and all the women folk were seated in the wagon, Pa would fetch his rifle, hop aboard, grab the reins, and off they’d go. Yee haw!
I believe that Mr. Dave and I would have failed most miserably and completely at road tripping in the style of our pioneer forefathers. Oh, we would have tried to do it correctly, only we wouldn’t. Our combined luck sphere would not permit such an expedition to run without unfortunate glitches. We’d probably forget one of the kids, or attach the horses to the wagon incorrectly, or something similar that would delay our planned arrival time by hours. Yep, I shudder to think at how badly things would have gone had Mr. Dave and I attempted a road trip through the Big Woods in Earl the wagon. The bears, wolves, and wild Indians would have got us for sure.
So, there we were, Mr. Dave, Earl the truck, and I wandering up and down a mountainous roadway, possibly heading towards the Pacific Ocean, possibly not, with no map and a sporadically working cell phone.
“Don’t fret,” said Mr. Dave to me as I slumped back against the seat, silent, quite nearly defeated, with a super grumped-up scowl on my face.
“Humpff,” I uttered.
“We’re getting closer to Coos Bay,” said Mr. Dave using his cheerful guy voice. “We’re starting to encounter significant traffic now. Significant traffic always means a town is likely to be nearby.”
I looked out Earl’s windows and watched as two log trucks, a pickup truck, and two other cars zipped past us. The people inside those vehicles looked like they knew where they were going and approximately how long it would take to get there. At least the roadway had flattened out into four lanes. I had to agree with Mr. Dave; the likelihood that road signs might have been erected along this stretch of highway was very possible.
“Are we going to stop at that town, if there really is a town anywhere around here?” I asked.
“We might as well hold out until we get to Coos Bay,” replied Mr. Dave. “I’m pretty sure we’re getting closer.”
I remained silently sullen. If Mr. Dave wanted to believe in fairy tales, so be it. I was done with it! Sunset was approximately two hours away. Soon we would be lost in the dark on this everlasting road to nowhere.
I’d reached the limit of my tolerance level for road tripping. I’d had enough of it. Much as I love riding in Earl the truck and seeing interesting sights and participating in madcap adventures with Mr. Dave, enough was enough. I wanted to go home, and was just about to voice this fact using my whiney wife voice, when the first of many road signs popped into view.
“Look there,” Mr. Dave beamed. “That sign says Coos Bay is a mere thirty miles from here!”
“It sure does!” I replied. My grumpiness lifted and hope filled my heart.
We continued zipping along the highway, gawking at every road sign like a couple of non-English speaking tourists. We were gob smacked by all the billboards we passed advertising food, comfortable accommodations, and gambling casinos.
“Check the phone,” suggested Mr. Dave. “I bet it’s working now.”
I grabbed the phone and turned on the GPS application. The little blue car was once again moving along its hairline road and the map was back.
“I’m calling my sister before we lose our connection,” I said. “She will know where we are!”
“I know where we are,” said Mr. Dave. “Geeze, did you not see the road sign?”
“It could have been a hallucination,” I snarled, while quickly entering my sister’s cell phone number and jabbing the call button with a savage poke.
“You’re hopeless,” sighed Mr. Dave.
“Darn right, I am,” I replied.
“Hello?” The voice of my sister, Judy, sounded in my ear.
“Howdy,” I said, “It is I, your sister.”
“I know,” she replied. “What’s, up?”
“Mr. Dave, Earl the truck, and I are lost,” I told her.
“Huh?” she replied.
“Road trip,” I explained.
I gave her the Cliff Notes version of our dilemma.
“Spur of the moment thing,” I told her, “We visited the Wild Life Safari in Winston. Mr. Dave decided to take the less traveled road to Coos Bay. We were lost for a considerable time in Sasquatch country. There are no road signs in Douglas County. Our phone won’t work, and we need help getting home. Save us, please!”
“Oh, lord,” muttered Mr. Dave, “what a drama queen you are being.”
I pretended I didn’t hear that…
My sister, Judy, spent a number of her working years as a 911 emergency dispatcher. She’s probably heard nearly everything a frantic human who is overly hungry and has sore knees could utter at a time of crisis. Judy is super cool with the world’s hysterics.
“You do realize that you can use your cell phone to pull up a map,” she told me.
“No ways,” I said. “We got that little car on the screen map thingy. It’s not trustworthy! It goes away every time we need it. Unreliable. We need a paper map!”
“Do you have a paper map?” Judy replied using her 911, keep-the-idiot-calm voice.
“No, we do not,” I answered, “That is why I’m calling you. Get out your state of Oregon paper map and tell us where we are!”
There was a long moment of silence on the other end of the phone.
“You still there?” I asked.
“Yes, I am,” she replied, “I am here parked on the side of a busy highway. I was on my way home from work when you called, and I don’t have a paper map with me.”
“Crud,” I said.
“Is Dave feeling that he is hopelessly lost?” she asked me.
“No,” I said, “But I think he is being much too optimistic, just now. He keeps claiming we are almost to Coos Bay, but he has been saying that for hours and hours.”
“Ah geeze,” muttered Mr. Dave. Tell her we are now less than fifteen miles from Coos Bay. We just passed another road sign.”
I didn’t have to tell her that. Mr. Dave has a big guy voice. She heard what he said.
“Sounds to me like you are nearing your destination and are no longer lost,” she commented.
“Or, we could be ready to spiral down yet another pioneer path to nowhere,” I said with sincere negativity. “It’s been happening all day. I believe I may have lost confidence in Mr. Dave’s gut instinct.”
“Oh for cripes sake,” muttered Mr. Dave.
“I understand,” my sister replied with a sigh. “I, too, would like to go home, only I am parked on the side of the road talking to you.”
“I take it that you would like me to hang up so you can continue your commute homewards,” I said.
“Yes,” Judy replied. “Coos Bay is a neat place to visit. Enjoy yourselves. Talk to you on Sunday. I’ll want to hear all about your entire adventure.”
“Will do,” I said ending the call with a satisfied sigh.
I put the phone in the holder blithely ignoring the pain in my knees and the growling of my stomach. My spirits were back on high beam.
As we entered the outskirts of Coos Bay, Mr. Dave made a suggestion.
“We are both exhausted and hungry,” he said. “So let’s just find a place to stay the night and we can go home in the morning. The cats will just have to tough it out until we get home.”
“That sounds like a great plan,” I agreed. “I only hope I can move when I get out of this truck.”
And that is what we did, peoples. Mr. Dave required a room with a beachside view so he could watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, and I needed handicapped accessible accommodations. We traversed down Highway 101 enjoying the sights and sounds of the seaside communities scattered along this familiar route while we debated where we would stay.
“I want a place with a view of the Pacific,” said Mr. Dave.
“I just want a place with a bathroom, a bed, and room service food,” said I.
We traveled all the way to Lincoln City before we found the perfect, on the beach accommodations that suited the both of us. The D Sands Motel provided parking right in front of the room, which worked for me; and, for Mr. Dave, an amazing room with a view of the Pacific.
I cannot in mere words explain how wonderful it felt to exit Earl the truck and hobble towards more comfortable accommodations. The room offered everything a travel weary human could wish for. Fully furnished kitchen that included a toaster and a full-sized coffee pot, bathroom with a shower that had a powerful spray, and the most comfortable beds ever! There was a cozy overstuffed sofa facing the television, a dining area with chairs, and a sliding glass door that led to a cement patio that led directly to the beach. Epic!
Mr. Dave went out and procured some essential survival stuff like toothpaste, deodorant, tooth brushes, and food while I hobbled about the place trying to ease the aches and pains out of my sore joints. Upon Mr. Dave’s return, we feasted; me, on a chicken and veggie wrap and Mr. Dave on some kind of burger.
Food tastes so ultra-delicious when you are truly hungry, peoples. I’ll bet you that there is some kind of an ancient blessing of some sort present in the world that says something like: “May all your meals taste as good as those meals you eat after being starved for hours whilst traveling in trucks named Earl.” I expect the ancient version of this blessing might be worded a bit differently, but the meaning would be the same.
Mr. Dave opened the sliding doors so that we could enjoy the ocean breeze and hear the waves pounding the beach. There were a few guests ambling around the water’s edge and sea gulls were dive bombing a lady who was feeding them bits of bread. We were within moments of the sunset when the squirrel appeared.
Yep, I said squirrel. Bushy tailed, grey and white, and extremely curious. It paused in front of the open door and looked like it was very interested in entering the room so it could freak out the humans. Mr. Dave must have sensed the squirrel’s intentions and he deftly closed the screen door with his toes before the squirrel could enter.
The squirrel chittered at Mr. Dave. It was probably scolding Mr. Dave for ruining its devious squirrel plans.
“Sorry, buddy,” said Mr. Dave. “I don’t have any squirrel friendly food.”
The squirrel chittered back in response to Mr. Dave’s words and pressed its paws against the screen. I’m pretty sure it was calling Mr. Dave a grievous prevaricator. Humans always have squirrel friendly food!
Mr. Dave got out his phone in order to take a picture of the squirrel. He was just about to take the picture when the squirrel dashed off our porch and onto the neighboring porch. No food, no picture, Mr. Dave…..
I believe that moment was the highlight of our road trip, peoples. It summed up the entire experience. The look on Mr. Dave’s face when the squirrel dashed off before Mr. Dave could create a proper photo memory sent me into a fit of highly contagious giggles. Mr. Dave and I enjoyed a hearty, soul reviving, laugh. I think maybe it was a case of both of us being overly tired, but it was an excellent ending to an adventurous day.