Texas girl in the middle of Kiwiana

Amy Boatman

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Day Five – The Bad News First

The critters were pretty good last night. Pachelbel barked at some noisy neighbors once, Sparky didn’t meow at all, and R.J. behaved himself. The phone rang at 7am. The number was 999-999-9999. This is like the third or fourth time I’ve gotten a call from that number and it’s always really early. I answered it and it was a voice mail recording: “You’ve reached (number I can’t remember), leave a message after the beep.” There was no beep or I would definitely have left a message. Then my friend Mary, who was at dinner last night, called and I was pretty rude to her. Sorry, Mary!

When I got back in the car after checking out, my mom had called. My great aunt Kathleen died this morning. She had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a while back and was given six months to a year to live. She was doing fairly well until a few weeks ago when it finally became necessary to put her in the nursing home. After that, she started failing fast. So, this morning she passed on. She was 85 years old and had a good life. Her husband, my uncle Fred, died back in 1981. I was sad that she has gone but I’m glad she didn’t linger in pain and miserable for a long time. Most likely her funeral will be in a few days. I wish I could go but I’m just not going to be able to. After all this traveling, I just can’t get on a plane and do some more. I have reached my limit. My mom understands. We’ll all miss Aunt Kathleen but she’s in a better place now and no longer in pain.

After talking to mom, I hit the road. I had considered just driving straight through to Seattle. It’s about 12 hours or so. After just a few hours of driving, though, I knew I wouldn’t be doing that. I was just too tired and restless to go that far. Plus, it wouldn’t be fair to the critters, making them go through that just for my own sake.

Oregon is a beautiful state! The mountains were huge and some were covered in snow. All the leaves are changing so I had a feast of color for my eyes the whole way here. The road was pretty hilly and I saw more of those runaway truck ramps. The funny thing with these though is that they don’t ramp up so the truck can slow down with gravity. It’s just a big shoulder that ends in a big pile of earth. I’m not sure where the benefit to the driver is in that. He may not hurt the rest of us but he’s gonna damage the hell out of himself. See, we just don’t have that problem in Texas. None of our mountains are big enough for that. Something else that just tickled me were the signs for snow chains. I was advised several times that the right shoulder was for putting on your chains only. There were also signs along the road that were turned so you couldn’t read them until you were past them but they said: “Snow chains required.” Yet another thing that is totally new to me. I don’t even know what snow chains look like. I have an idea but I’ve never seen them in real life. The thought that I’m going to be living near a place like that just floors me. How different from everything I’ve known this will be.

About 30 minutes outside Sacramento, I hit some bad weather and it followed me the whole way. It poured down rain so hard I could hardly see for a while then it was just a steady rain. At some point along the way, the clouds cleared and the sun came out. A giant rainbow splashed across the mountains right in front of me. It was breathtakingly beautiful. As if that were the eye of the storm, the clouds moved back in and it continued to rain the rest of the way. I made it to Grants Pass and realized how much the temperature difference was when I got out of my car. I am so not used to cold weather. In fact, I started to only bring shorts and t-shirts on this trip. I finally got a clue and realized it wouldn’t be 85 degrees the whole way and packed some pants. I still have no coat though, or even a sweat shirt. Our stuff isn’t supposed to be in Seattle until sometime between the 22nd and 27th. I’m gonna have to make a Goodwill run just to find something to stay warm.

I’m happy this is the last night. Tomorrow I’ll be sleeping in my own, albeit new, bed with my wife in my own house. It’s been six weeks since I’ve seen her. I miss her like crazy. Plus I’m ready to start my new life. And I’m sure the critters will be happy to be out of the car for good. Although they’ve been real troopers. I didn’t expect traveling with them would be as relatively easy as it has been.

Alright, off to bed.