Alex and Mason did some overdue catching up and I nodded and chuckled politely at what I guessed to be the appropriate intervals.
OMG OMG OMG the last Midwest Adventure blog post! Can you stand it?! I barely can. But all good things must come to an end…even if it’s a week late.
Anyhoo…when last we left you, we had turned in for the night in lovely, wintry Missoula. When dawn stretched her rosy fingers through the early morning mist and we reluctantly wiped the sleep from our eyes, it had snowed more overnight and the car needed a good brushing and scraping before we could leave. But this was the home stretch, and we knew we were going to see Portland in the early evening if all went well, so we headed out with our hearts full of that good ol’ McDougall “can do” spirit.
And we needed that spirit for at least the first half of the day’s drive, because I’ll be danged if the road didn’t start climbing again, and soon we were navigating our way through some steep mountain passes and a fair bit of snow sticking doggedly to the roads. I have to say, it’s kind of remarkable that this was the first time in our Big Drive that we encountered a pretty significant amount of traffic – most noticeably in the form of big ol’ tractor-trailer rigs chugging through the same passes, and predictably slowing things down for everybody on the upgrades. For me it was the first time I was genuinely worrying about that scenario where everybody’s working their way uphill, but somebody up ahead makes a dumb lane change or misjudges the shoulder and loses control a bit, which forces everyone in the rear to slow down and potentially even stop – and then, with a steep uphill grade plus snow and possibly ice on the road, would we be able to start up again from a standstill and not just spin our wheels? And even if we could, what about everybody in front of us? Thankfully it never happened, everyone was well-behaved, and somewhere around the passage into Idaho I think, we started back downhill and were pretty much done with the snow.
As we approached Washington, Alex connected with a photographer friend of his from the Emerald (Univ. of Oregon) who now works at the newspaper in Yakima, and we arranged to meet for coffee. Starting around Spokane, the weather was pretty nice and the drive toward Yakima was great – smooth going with some fantastic scenery.
Coffee with Alex’s friend Mason was a very welcome break; we met in this really cool coffeehouse in downtown Yakima that had been converted from an old rail station. Alex and Mason did some overdue catching up and I nodded and chuckled politely at what I guessed to be the appropriate intervals. After that, we were back on the road for our last leg. Fueled by the sidesplitting Judge John Hodgman podcast – and okay, yes, Blizzards from the Goldendale Dairy Queen – we motored through the early evening and tolerably sparse traffic into good ol’ sleepy, drizzly Portland.
I won’t try to say anything grand or eloquent here to sum up the trip…mostly because words would fail me, I think. At least that’s what’s happened every time I’ve tried to make some all-encompassing remark since returning. But I will take a moment to say how much I appreciate the fact that Alex was a part of the trip. It’s a little ironic, of course, because originally Alex was the whole point of the trip – he had his car in Michigan and it needed to come home to Portland and I made the offer to fly out there and help him drive it back. But then it turned into this McDougall Family History expedition, and Alex rolled with it every step of the way and in fact provided indispensable help at many points along the journey. So yep, he’s one decent guy, and I’m proud of him and very gratified that he’s the totally admirable and ridiculously funny person that he is.
And hey, you – thank you for reading.
Now go check out the photos from our last two days on the road – just click here!