Lyle's Blog

Day Six...Columbia and Home

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We woke up to the sound of the roaring waters of the dam at the Dalles. Leaving Mia in the room, we went down to their restaurant that looked over the same view. We walked across the small dining room and found ourselves a booth along the long window side. The room was a bit dingy with the windows badly needing to be washed. I sat down at the booth and placed my arms down on a table that was crying out for a good scrubbing. I ran my fingernail along the top of the surface peeling off some of the substance that attached itself there. As we waited for our order taker (as was the case in Idaho, you could not call her a server), I looked around at the decoration or lack of in the room. All of the walls were bare and the only decorations were cheap Christmas lights that hung from the ceilings and were attached to a web of extension cords that insurance companies would have a field day with as they seemed to be attached to the lights in some sort of way so that they would come on when the light switch was turned on.

Our order taker took our order and I walked over to the drink table. Judy had asked for a cup of decaf coffee. The only thing available was some cheap orange juice, apple juice, and a small pot of regular coffee. Only one cup was available and a tray of very small six ounce glasses were there for the juice. I poured myself a cup of coffee in the last cup (when I left there were still no more available) and filled my small glass as far up as I felt comfortable with. Judy decided to just drink from the water that we had been served. Our meals took a bit to get to us even though we noticed that all of the others in the room were guests also and we only were given three options. Judy chose the ham and eggs while I picked the biscuits and gravy with fresh fruit. My biscuits were the thaw and serve type, my gravy was from a can, and my fresh fruit from a refrigerated bag of presliced melon and pineapple. As we ate, I told Judy that John Gothberg would have a field day here in this place. We never saw our order taker again and did not leave a tip as we walked across the uncrowded room I was kind of hoping that I would see her to tell her why but she was busy talking in the kitchen so we just left.

We had promised Trin that we would meet her at the Bonneville dam at nine but thanks to our lengthy stay in the restaurant were just pulling out of the parking lot at that time. I jumped out on the freeway and quickly got up to a comfortable seventy miles an hour both of us enjoying the wind in our hair and the beauty of the canyon walls of the Columbia as you approach Portland.

Just a little ways before our turn off and riding along in the right lane, we had two cars passing us on the left faster lane. The first car seemed to back off just a bit, maybe talking on the phone or maybe just easing on his foot just a bit who really knows. This infuriated the man in the car behind him; a small white Plymouth Neon. The motor on the Neon began to scream as it's driver punched the gas with all he was worth. Seeing what was unfolding, I backed off my gas and speed of still around seventy to give the young man the room that he needed to pass on my side. He swerved his small car into my lane just in front of me still making his small motor cry out. Then he swerved hard into the car that had been in front of him. That man hit his brakes allowing the Neon to swerve inches in front of his car instead of hitting him in the front. The young man driving the Neon struggled to keep it on the road and then hit his brakes making the man behind stop hard. All along, I am backing off also but if the two would have tangled there would have been no way that I would not have been involved. The Neon then swerved back into across our lane and to the side of the road. Judy yelled to please not pass him up as he was crazy and I obliged keeping a safe distance behind his car. The Neon turned at the next off ramp but not without a fist shaking at the other driver and words screamed that I knew that I did not want to hear.

It all got me thinking as we closed the gap between us and our daughter. What if I had not packed up before going to the restaurant. What if I had taken more time when taking Mia outside to do her business. What if we would taken our keys to the desk instead of leaving them in the room. We live in pockets of time that are influenced by the things that we and others do. And even the smallest thing can make the largest changes in our lives. Mere seconds, or small stops can mean the difference in some cases of life or death. My mind went to one of our employees of whom Judy and I care very much for who recently lost his brother. How will the loss of his brother affect the rest of his life. Or given other circumstances, would his brother still be alive.


Our small bubble of life is very fragile and even somewhat small events can change that bubbles course and thus change our lives for ever. Five years ago, if that bookkeeper had not stolen that money would the Wolfe's not have sold the truck stop and would I still be working for them instead of myself. And that being the case, would I have even met that same employee or all of the vets that my life seems to be tied into or the car cruisers who stop by the diner on Wednesday nights. The list can be staggering and kind of blow your mind when you think on it. The trick as I see it is to appreciate every thing that God places in front of you and cherish the adventure of life that you have.

Getting back to our trip, we met Trin at Bonneville and enjoyed a visit there. A rose garden of sorts was along the side of the parking lot that looked over the spillway on the dam.

I think I took my best picture of the trip there when I took a close up of one of the blooming flowers with the out of focus water in the back ground. I knew that I had a good photo when I looked at it in the camera and saw the small bee that was flying around it.

We then drove down to Multnomah falls and walked up to the bridge for more pictures before stopping at the small sandwich bar for lunch. Arriving there, we found a small area of tables tucked into the side of the cliff above that there was no one there. We felt that we were going to have a quiet little lunch as we ordered our food and sat down. Then the two buss loads of kids on a field trip showed up. They were well minded for kids but put that many kids together in one small space and you will have noise. I smiled at Judy while I ate my lunch unable to talk much from the loud din around us. We made our way through the mass of kids and back to our car where we said goodbye to Trin.

Judy and I drove back to the beginning of the old scenic road and enjoyed the various falls along the way. We both talked of coming back to Portland in the fall, staying at Edgefield in Troutdale, and taking some of the various paths that come off of that same road. We agree that will be a good adventure sometime in Sept or Oct after the kids go back to school. We fueled up in Troutdale and headed our car back to Bend and home. As we approached Bend, the storm clouds were brewing and we ended up putting the top up not blocks away from the house. We both ran into the house and waited for the down pour to subside before unloading the car.

Six days and Sixteen hundred miles most of with the top down. Judy's road trip for our thirty fifth anniversary of committing our lives to one another. A trip that neither one of us probably will ever forget. A memory etched in a catalog of memories every day bringing a picture of my experience in my mind.

Now, back to our world and our next up and coming events. First Fathers day of which we are going to have a special steak and egg breakfast available for all fathers. And then the VVA Fourth of July BBQ and Blues. It looks like it might just be a busy summer.

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