This has been a hard year. We stayed home, washed our groceries, walked the Puppymonster, and mostly we worked. My parents had a harder time, losing their lovely home in Talent, Oregon in the fire, something I cannot even imagine lving through, but they made it past that. Because of the pandemic, we could not visit my father and Paula in Oregon, but then we got vaccinated, and suddenly travel was a possibility again. Dad has been having some health problems, which is hardly a surprise given that he’s turning 90 this year, so we thought it would be a good idea to break our travel moratorium and Covid bubble to head North in the Bus to visit with him. Of course, like many of my “good ideas,” this one was fraught with challenges:
- We had to get real (3 point) seatbelts before attempting high speed travel
- High speed is a relative term with the Bus.
- We needed new wheel cylinders and brakes.
- We had to make sure someone could care for the Puppymonster and the other creatures.
- We had to get ready to go, which was a rather epic undertaking given that Covid had pretty much kept us at home, and, well, let’s just say that my housekeeping in this period left something to be desired.
- According to Google, the I5 route is 678 miles from LA to Ashland, Oregon, but that would assume you were driving a normal car. In the Bus we often take side roads and old roads and farm roads, so I would guess it is more like 800 miles.
- The Bus can occasionally hit 60, but his max speed is generally 55, and that’s not on hills.
- There are many hills and mountains between Los Angeles and Ashland.
But we made our plans some time ago, booking camping reservations for the trip home and hoping to make LA to Ashland in 3-4 days. The time before we left was a blizzard of cleaning, buying, organizing, making frozen peanut butter bones for the Puppymonster, and yes, Robert was still working his wonderful and relaxing schedule (that is sarcasm). We were lucky to have our dear friend Nancy agree to be Puppy-Watcher-in Chief and Tortoise feeder. In the week or so after school ended, all I did was get ready for the trip, and like all such weeks I was worried, excited, scared, and hopeful. I made many lists and crossed things off of lists. I was worried and excited, excited and worried, and concerned about my father. He had a health scare recently and I felt every one of the miles between us because we couldn’t be there for him, and 90 is quite the age to be. I found myself remembering his 70th birthday party, when we drove my old Volvo with our Jack Russell terrier up I5 with no air conditioning. It was hotter than hot, and that dog wanted to sit on my lap the entire way. We stopped at rest stops to get wet, then continued on the road. I also thought about Dad’s eightieth birthday, when Paula organized a wonderful party for Dad with exquisite food, wine, pictures, and even a bluegrass band. So many people came up to me at that party to tell me how important my father had been to them that I suddenly felt like the daughter of a famous person.
How could ten years have passed so quickly? I never think of my father as old, although I know he is. For me, he is just my father, the bedrock of my life (and as a Geologist’s daughter who lives in earthquake country, I appreciate bedrock). But 90 is undeniably old, and the terrible math of age and life is unescapable. So it seemed like this was the right time to bring the Bus up to visit him, and the next blog posts will tell of our journey up, our visit, and our journey home.