Oh dear god no.
Not today, Satan.
I gripped the steering wheel and navigated countless potholes with the dexterity of a drunk toddler. I massaged my jaw. My ears were popping. Why were my ears popping?
Oh my f$^*&@ god. Is that snow?
I hadn’t seen another soul in at least a half an hour. I turned my phone off. Not like I had service anyway; might as well keep the battery fully loaded.
26 miles to go. A marathon. Well, at least I know I can walk it if I have to.
I went over my emergency plan for the twentieth time. I had my winter jacket, gloves, plenty of food and water, and a half a tank of gas. If my car decided to crawl into one of these cavernous potholes and never come out (I have a history with potholes), I’d probably survive. Maybe. I mean, I think so. I glanced at my temperature gauge.
I should have known this road trip wasn’t going to end well.
After an hour of navigating treacherous national forest roads between Packwood and White Salmon, Washington, I was never happier to see pavement. I’d been on the road for nine days ogling the Pacific Northwest.
With promising job prospects on the horizon, I figured it might be the last opportunity for a while for this Jersey girl to freely explore the terrain outside of Bend, Oregon (my new hometown).
From Mendocino, California to Cannon Beach, Oregon, most of the trip was fog-filled.
I began to wonder if it was a metaphor. (With no one but Uncle Jesse to keep me company, I had plenty of time to work on Deep Thoughts with Go Jules Go.) Even though it felt like my life was finally headed in the right direction, was I still not seeing things clearly? Was this a reminder to keep moving forward, even if I couldn’t make out what was ahead?
By the time I got to “NF-23” in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, nine days in, I was ready for sunshine.
Thankfully, I got just that as I neared the Columbia River Gorge. Squinting, I pulled down my car’s visor and decided to do a quick loop to check out The Dalles and Hood River before settling into my AirBNB in White Salmon, WA. As I approached The Dalles, a white SUV zoomed past me and suddenly did a U-turn.
Oh my god. Are those…am I…being pulled over?
“Ma’am, I clocked you going 68 in a 55.”
Seriously? 55? On a highway going downhill?
“I’m so sorry. I’ve never been here before.”
I’ve only ever gotten one speeding ticket…when was that…14 years ago? God, I’m old.
With trembling hands, I forked over my license and registration, Uncle Jesse letting loose a series of piercing warning barks. When the officer returned a few minutes later, I was sure the paper in his hands was my big, fat ticket.
“I’m going to let you off with just a warning this time. You take care of yourself.”
“Thank you so much,” I breathed, shocked. “I’m so sorry.”
I drove off checking my speedometer every .00009 seconds. When I finally made it back to the AirBNB, I knew exactly what would calm my nerves: Korbel’s finest and the latest episode of Counting On. (You do know this blog’s original name was Go Guilty Pleasures, right?)
I pulled up the wifi network and entered the password.
Fog or no fog, one thing was clear: It was time to go home and see what was around the next bend.
How do you fare on the road and with The Great Unknown? Any advice?