So, with Big Sur behind us, we drove on into the night to Sacramento and then the next day to Bend, Oregon where we met our daughter and son-in-law and granddog, Kiwi, for four days of fun together. On the way there we had to stop off in Redding, California, to pick up hamburgers for our daughter and son-in-law from a burger chain called, "In and Out Burger" which they have in California but not in many other places. (They are moving into Texas, I was told by the man at the counter when I ordered the burgers, so look for them in the big cities of Texas soon.) Doris and I had two burgers ourselves and ate them at the really nice covered patio provided. They were dog friendly so Bo and Bushy also joined us there and we enjoyed the food and sat on the patio as the comfortable northern California breezes blew around us.
Back on the road, we continued toward Bend, passing Mt. Shasta, one of the volcanic mountains of the region, and turning off I-5 at the town of Weed. Yes, there is a Weed, California. They even sell t-shirts that say, "I Like Weed" on them. I was very tempted to buy one to wear around town but thought the better of it since I would not want to embarrass any of my parishioners. We took the road that would take us directly to Bend and began our trek, stopping to change drivers at a rest area. There we encountered one of those quandaries that many of us do as we travel. An old grey custom van, rather beat up looking, was parked near the end of the vehicles in the lot. A woman was sitting on a bench at the rest area so that other travelers would have to pass her in order to get to the rest rooms. She held a sign that said, "I need money. Hungry and broke" or something like that. I really got a bit peeved by her placement and as we took the dogs out of the car to walk them, I walked way around her so I did not have to pass her way. I noticed a placard giving a phone number to call to report any suspicious activity at the rest area so I actually called it and reported her. Now, I know I am supposed to be very sympathetic to the needs of all human beings but the rather cynical part of me took over and soon there was a California Highway Patrolman coming into the parking lot of the rest area. He must have thought I was the culprit who called this in because he walked directly toward me and asked me if I did. I gave him the information and admitted calling and he thanked me and began walking toward the woman. By that time, we were finished with our business at the rest area so we got into the car and continued our drive toward Bend. Now, before you judge me harshly for being unsympathetic toward this beggar, later on after we stopped for gas in the edge of Oregon, we passed another rest area and the same old van that was at the one in California was there. You could not miss its distinctive appearance. We guessed they must have left the rest area after we did and then passed us when we stopped for gas.
Oregon is a beautiful state but it has some quirks that were hard to figure out. One is that the speed limit on their non-freeways is never more than 55 mph. Coming from Texas, where you can drive 75 on Hwy 71 between Columbus and El Campo, it was hard to keep the needle right at 55. Doris and I both would drive between 60 and 65 and we were regularly passed by cars with Oregon license plates. We did not want to bring home a souvenir from Oregon that would require us mailing in some money once we got home so we tried to at least keep it under 70. Oregonians did not do as well; most of them sped by us driving 75-80 or higher. We reached Bend around 4-5 pm and found the house that we were renting for four nights and followed the directions given to us to get in--Look for a lock box, put in the code, and retrieve the key to enter. So, I followed the directions to the letter and put in the key to turn it and the key quickly broke off in the lock, giving me the large end. I could fish the skinny part out of the lock but there was no way to enter the house. I had been given the phone number of a woman who was supposed to be the caretaker for the house but after repeated tries of calling it and still could not get an answer, I did not know what else to do except break a window to enter. Doris advised against such action, and probably wisely, so instead we headed for the public library.
We found the library which was just a few miles away and entered wanting to use a public computer and noticed that the library closed at 6 pm. The time was 5:55 pm. So, we asked the library person to allow us to use a computer and explained our plight and she sympathetically said, "Sure, you can use a computer until 6 pm when the library closes." I signed on and began typing as fast as I could, writing an email to the man from whom we were going to rent the house. We found the house on a website called Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) from which we had rented several houses before. The man and his family lives in Georgia but they have this vacation home in Oregon and rent it via the internet. I began to type an email to the man and was nearly through when I heard a voice say, "The library is now closed" at which time the computer simply turned off. No warning or chance to save one's work....you were just finished. The librarian sweetly came by to swoosh all who were at computers out of the library and we were out in the cold (actually not very cold) once again.
I remembered that we had brought our laptop computer but wondered if the library had wifi so that we could use it so we got it out and sat at a bench outside the library and got it going and sure enough there was a signal from the library to use. Not knowing how long the signal may be available, I went to the mail site again and began typing a letter to the owner of the cabin once again. This time I pushed send and off it went. We found a local gas station/store and used their facilities and as we were driving back toward the cabin my cell phone began to ring. I did not recognize the number but picked it up and the owner of the cabin was calling me. He apologized for what had happened and said he was trying to get in touch with the caretaker and she would call me soon. Then, he said he was calling from Bangladesh. He was on a business trip there and was just leaving the place where he was staying when my email dropped into his IPhone. Wow--how amazing is that? Here we were in Oregon and he was calling from the other side of the world to tell us that he was trying to call a person in Oregon to try to help us. Modern technology---we sometimes laugh at it and discount it but sometimes it is very amazing.
So, we went back to the house and waited around and soon a car drove up with a friendly young man in it who profusely apologized for our situation (turned out the key had broken before). He opened the door and let us in and our Oregon adventure had begun.
Look for Part Three on a computer screen near you soon.....