We woke up in Portland rested and feeling good, but knowing we had a long day ahead of us. Ugh! The morning was pretty eventful besides a lot of getting lost in Portland finding a McDonald’s for breakfast and a gas station. Seriously! That city is sooo confusing to drive through. We probably spent a good 45 minutes just turning around and trying to find our way. But eventually we hopped onto I-84 East and starting making our way to my sister’s house!
Heading east on 84 across Oregon is by far one of my favorite places in America to drive. Driving alongside the river and watching the scenery change from the lush, greenery of the Pacific Northwest to the bare, rolling mountains of the high desert I was raised in is somehow so soothing. I thought a lot about doing this drive for Christmas last year with just my dog and how much my life has changed since then. How great this last year has been and how I’ve gotten to spend it with someone I feel so blessed to be with everyday, after spending several months of being alone and walking with only God. It was awesome to get to look over at him and just rejoice in the fact that I no longer have to be or feel alone, that I get to have a companion in life and for road trips.
I also got to show Ali Multnomah Falls, which I visited over the summer. We really didn’t stop until Pendleton, which is always one of my favorite stops. I’m not really sure why.. it’s just a tiny town in the middle of Oregon, but I always stop there. We headed for the WalMart and did our tourist thing and bought an atlas, car freshener and some extra fluids for the car. We were about to head into the infamous “Blue’s”, home to Deadman’s Pass and some of the scariest terrain I’ve ever driven. At the gas station on our side of the Blue’s, they actually sell shirts that say “I survived the Blue’s”. It’s really that bad. So, we stopped for a sit down lunch at a classy joint we found in town, Taco Bell, and relaxed before the most stressful part of the whole 24 hour drive.
Pulling out of Pendleton, I decided to quickly grab some coffee at the Starbucks. I was making small talk with the barista and when finding out we were heading east, I noticed the way her eyes lit up. Not in an excited way, but in more of an “I’m terrified for you” kind of way. Oh great! She said her husband had been out there early this morning and it was BAD. She said there was black ice everywhere and plenty of snow. Handing over my coffee, she wished me luck and my stomach started tying itself up in knots as I walked back to my car. I sat down in the driver’s seat and looked worriedly over at Ali. I told him what the barista said and he asked me for the hundredth time if I was sure I could drive through it, that he was more than willing to do it. (Do you guys remember a few weeks ago when I posted about following your instinct? Yeah.. my instinct was practically screaming to let him drive, but I guess I had something to prove). I told him I was fine, just a little nervous and that I wanted to try it. If it got bad enough I could just pull over, right? And just like that I sipped my latte, turned the wheel east, and merged onto the freeway, stubborn pride fully intact and engaged.
It was literally just two miles down the interstate, when the lanes started to narrow and the turns started to curve sharper, that the snow started to fall. Light at first, it quickly got worse. Though it never turned into a full on blizzard, it was enough that anyone traveling over 40 mph would have a hard time keeping their windshield wipers racing fast enough, especially with all of the semis and big trucks along for the trip. I was starting to get nervous, but I just drove at a slow speed where I felt comfortable and kept telling myself over and over to not panic if something happened. I knew all of the rules, I’d been hearing them from my Dad’s mouth since I started driving in snow at 17. But regardless, I am someone who panics in scary situations and Ali, knowing this, kept reminding me to just stay calm and just drive. I drove super slow… like 30 mph slow… and I got passed by EVERYONE. But seriously, the whole freeway was covered in snow and when I started to speed up, I felt like I didn’t have control of the car, so I just let everyone pass me. I just thought everything would be fine if I just went slow. But that posed its own problem… because every time anyone passed me, I was blinded with snow and no one could see the lines of the lanes, so I even had one semi to my side get so close, I thought for sure he’d sideswipe us and we’d go off the cliff to the side. Did I mention there are no guardrails?? Ugh! Finally after what felt like hours, but was probably only one, the roads started to open up and clear out and I was able to speed up. I pulled over at the next exit and let Ali take over. Though we didn’t run into anymore snow, he drove the whole rest of the trip. And I am now officially traumatized.
We continued on 84 for the next few hours, only stopping for gas and restroom breaks. One thing that’s so great about road tripping with Ali is that he’s so laid back and easy going, so he just goes at his own pace. I tend to just go and go and get wherever I’m going Assoonaspossible! But I’ve really started learning how to enjoy being on the road thanks to his slow demeanor. We were nearing the edge of Oregon and I knew it was almost time for the stop I’d waited for all day! I was going to take Ali to visit my hometown for the first time. If you’ve been following this blog for any time, then you know what tiny little town I’m talking about and just how redneck my life was there. I couldn’t wait for my Indian, city boyfriend to see it. He was quite terrified.
Turning off the freeway to the Huntington exit, we immediately saw tons of mule deer just hanging around. I freaked!! I love animals, but I especially love seeing deer walking around and getting close to them. Plus, I’ve never seen mule deer in real life! Ali stopped the car and I got tons of great photos, and then we continued on the little side road into town. I showed him my friend Sterling’s home, which was the log house on the edge of town. Her family had the most money in town and I remember just thinking she was sooo rich when I was child. It’s funny to remember how things looked as a child, and to then see them from an adult perspective. We kept driving around and I showed him everything… where we held our annual catfish derby, the field at the high school where we held our Easter egg hunts, the house I lived in, the field where the bull used to live in that we would go and taunt. Larry’s store, where I would turn in cans I found around town to sell for candy. The playground where I used to play everyday and the exact teeter totter that I used to be terrified of. The beauty shop where I got my ears pierced, my elementary school, the Streamliner restaurant that I used to order chocolate milkshakes at. And it all took about ten minutes! :) And then we drove out to the other edge of town and I showed him the “Snake River Road” that bordered the ranch my Great Uncle Ellis used to own and that led out to the cabin my Grandpa used to live in. Mostly, it seemed like Ali couldn’t believe just how small it was. And how much of it I remembered. He lived in Texas until the same age I moved out of Huntington and he remembers barely anything of it. But I remember almost everything, which is why I always say I “grew up there”. Anyways, it was a blast showing him my roots and where my family’s been for generations. I hope I didn’t scare him too much.. :)
After leaving Huntington, we crossed over the Idaho border. We moved pretty fast for the last little stretch and were so glad when we finally started to see the lights of Boise. We finally pulled into my sister’s house and sat down to relax. Now, it was time to spend a couple days with my fam!