Photos tell stories. Words embellish stories. Lots of reading here even in an interrupted adventure.
Here we are, tootling along in the Lamont's Volvo station wagon on our way to Bend, my two sons and I. Our plan, to spend Friday and Saturday nights there in a place called the Writer's Retreat, one of the vacation homes managed by Bend Dutch Rentals. The guys wanted to boulder some during the days, and I wanted to explore the parts of Bend within walking distance of the retreat plus maybe ride out to see where they bouldered. We'd spend the rest of the time together, laughing, talking, eating, enjoying each other's company. We're blessed because you can do all of those things no matter where you end up.
We'd made a pit stop at a grocery store a few miles before we came to these curves you see in the first two photos. And we'd already noticed lots of lots of participants in the 2012 Hood to Coast Relay that had started that morning at Timberline Lodge up on Mt. Hood--you can see a few running on the passenger side of that white car in the top left photo. That's not someone in the road directly behind the car's driver side. Balloons are attached to the antenna. Lots of the vehicles had all sorts of stuff attached so that relay participants could easily find them at assigned places along the relay.
Notice the wide shoulder in the third photo. Let me tell you, we three were proud to see it as quickly as we did because we'd just heard a strange clunky sound and felt a jerky movement as we rode up the ever-increasing slight incline. Lamont pulled off onto the shoulder as we approached that big tree close to the guard rail. The guys got out, looked under the front of the car, decided Lamont should pull over closer to the guard rail, then they opened the hood and found oil coming out from beneath the cap on the place where you pour oil into the engine.
First, Lamont called the auto shop where he takes the car--Atomic Auto which is within walking distance of my apartment back in Portland. No answer. I immediately said, "OK, now push the button on the SPOT." So, Lamont got it out of his bag and pushed the button for roadside assistance, one of the aspects of this little orange piece of equipment which I subscribe to yearly.
(I had bought the SPOT Locator for the guys' birthdays back in 2008 when they had decided to hike in the mountains--too many people became lost in the mountains during the first two years that Mama and I were in Portland, and I didn't want to think about their not coming home and/or getting in touch with me to let me know that they were back home within a reasonable amount of time of their expected arrival, so I said to them, "I told you that I wasn't going to come out here and live your lives for you, but I have to know where we can tell them to start looking for y'all." They graciously accepted like the good sons that they are.)
Back on the shoulder of Highway 26, in a couple of minutes, my cell phone rang. A gracious and helpful young woman on the other end verified all sorts of information, asked me for a mile marker which thankfully was right there--see the fifth photo, that's the back of it! It read 50.0. Better than that, even, was when I heard her tell me that my plan covered towing 50 miles from where I wanted to go. Oh, joy!
After making sure she knew that we needed a tow truck that would hold all three of us, she told me she'd text the name and phone number of the company to me shortly and that the truck should be there within 45 minutes, plus I would get a text right about the projected time of arrival to ask if indeed the tow truck had arrived. The first text came at 3:13 p.m. Purdy's Brightwood Towing was on the way. I called Bend Dutch Rentals and let them know what had happened and explained that I'd call again when we knew the outcome.
The guys got their bouldering crash pads out of the station wagon to rest their weary buns--they work hard at their jobs with Provvista Specialty Foods. I was on my third day of vacation that week, feeling good. But not good enough to take the guys up on their offer of a crash pad for me. I figured I needed to save all of my energy for getting into the tow truck which I figured would be high off the ground. So I kept my not-so-agile buns resting on the guard rail, watching passing sights like the tractor-double-trailer rig loaded with green bales of hay rumbling down the incline. Another thing we noticed--more Hood to Coast participants who ran by across the road were women. Leland mentioned it first, then I chimed in with, "Yes, and it was the year of the woman at the Olympics!" Ever the fount of trivia, that's me.
Purdy's arrived and by 4:08 p.m., I had already texted "1" for yes to the query, "Has roadside assistance vehicle arrived?" The attendant whose name escapes me checked for oil, found it too low but with enough there so that he could deftly drive the car right onto the flatbed of the tow truck. Next he attached it securely while Leland and Lamont checked the spot where oil had dripped out of the engine. By 4:13 p.m., he leveled the flatbed and was just about ready for us to climb into the cab, the guys through the back door, me through the front door after I had grabbed hold of the appropriate handles to help me make that huge first step. By the way, do you notice that tiny turquoise dot at the left corner of the flatbed in the next to last photo? That's a woman running in the relay.
I clicked my seatbelt and watched the passing scenery all the way to Atomic Auto; first we had to continue away from Portland until we came to a spot where the man knew he could make a looping turn and head us back in the direction we wanted to go. He didn't waste any time, let me tell you, driving those curves at a clip which gave me pause. However, I successful squelched my natural tendency to squeal when frightened in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle. If I remember right, he told us that his first tow call that morning had been at 6:15 a.m., way up on Mt. Hood.
By 5:52 p.m. he had the station wagon unloaded at Atomic Auto, eight minutes before closing time, and Lamont was on his way to talk with the guys there about getting her checked out. Lamont uses the female pronoun when referring to his station wagon. By the middle of that next week he had her back, good as new with some sort of new trap/filter something or other that had become clogged and allowed a build up of pressure which had to escape somewhere. Plus he had some brake work and front sway bar bushing work done--I think I remember that right.
We walked to my apartment and decided to not go to Bend, period. I myself felt like we'd come through the situation very much to the good. I didn't want to get into Leland's car and tempt fate--know what I mean? We'll reschedule before too long, just you wait and see.