blink, and I’m back


On a sunny day you can see tankers in the water, over to UBC and all the way to Vancouver Island. On this particular Thanksgiving Day, the water lifted into the sky, making for a pretty grey day.

I rolled into Davis on the 8th of October, and now it’s the 18th and I’m in BC, staying at my brother’s house (for the time being). Made it in time for Thanksgiving dinner, which in this country is in October. I explained to my American cousin that it gives us lots of time to recover from the turkey onslaught, before we do it again in December.

Davis was a good break, though I only stayed two nights. I’ve been there before, had drifted off of the untraveled path onto one I knew. And I wanted to be home, for said turkey dinner, but also, to just be home. Even though home isn’t quite figured out. I have some ideas, but I’m not in a hurry (now that I’ve had that dinner, several times). I’ll figure out the next place in due course, but for the moment, well, for the next week, I’ve got a vote to cast, and a Writers Fest to go to. So I’ll be busy for awhile.

But I did want to finish this story, and give some accounting for my travels. So. Davis is a little place, university town (UC Davis) but aside from going out for lunch, and then for dinner, I really was just there for the family catch-up. And my own catching up, because that’s pretty much where I wrote the last two posts, though second one was posted from Oregon. One of the things about this trip; when I decided to blog about it, I had to factor in the time to do it. Or else I’d forget what had happened. Witness that ten days have gone by in a blink. In fact the past three and a half months have gone by in a blink.

First glimpse of Mount Shasta, coming out of California.

First glimpse of Mount Shasta, coming out of California.

To my story: I ended up coming home mostly on the I-5, in spite of my lack of enthusiasm for the (my) beaten path. Sometimes it’s the best choice. Did a weather search, because I wanted to come along the Oregon Coast, but seems there was a storm off shore in the Pacific (Hurricane Oho, next one I guess will be Aha). It wasn’t encouraged to go walking on the beaches, and that made me think that it might not be the nicest weather to drive through, so the I-5 it was. And I’d forgotten that it’s actually as scenic as any of the routes I’ve been along. Just not so foreign to my eyes. Trees on the mountainsides, instead of just the rock underneath, for one thing. Could sure see signs of the drought that’s plagued the west coast.

I couldn't pull over near Shasta Lake, but it's levels were as sunken as this view of the Shasta River.

I couldn’t pull over near Shasta Lake, but it’s levels were as sunken as this view of the Shasta River.

I did some searching for where to stay, and picked a motel in Shady Cove, Oregon, that took me a bit away from the main highway; on the way to Crater Lake in fact. I was tempted to go that way, but I decided another day. Anyway, Crater Lake is another of the places we went camping with our father, and I still have some foggy memory of being there, back in the 1960s. Not exactly recently, but oh well, I just may have been on that particular road, once upon a time, so didn’t fit my criteria really. I guess I was really done, even though I still had (what once might have seemed) a long way to go.

Shady Cove gave me my first glimpse of Fall. It was still sunny, and I wasn’t giving up my flip flops yet, but there were lots of fallen leaves scattered around my door at the motel. It’s the quickest season change I’ve ever gone through, driving into it, because while Davis was probably pretty autumnal to people who live there, it was the sort of temperature that we here north of the Pacific Northwest find pretty summer-like. The only need for a sweater was for inside air-conditioned buildings.

In the Umpqua National Forest. This is what I picture when I hear forest.

This is what I picture when I hear the word forest.

The road back to the I-5 made an arc, another of those lines on the map that tricks you into thinking it’s a nothing, when it’s actually quite a something. Off the Crater Lake Highway onto 227, rejoining the I-5 at Canyonville, so maybe the first hour of my day’s drive was spent snaking high up through the Umpqua National Forest, and then back down again. The road changes names more than once, so I don’t know whether 227 carries through, but I did. Carry through, I mean.

I’m glad it was at the beginning of my day as I certainly needed to pay attention to the switchbacks, but I will say I was delighted to get a last fix of new road. It was so quiet too, Sunday morning and all; I had the road almost entirely to myself, so I thought best not to run myself off it. It was a really nice road, just not one you would want to travel at the speed limit (well, not me, anyway, I did pull over for a couple vehicles) which was something absurd like 55 mph (around 97 kph). I’d have gone sailing off with the eagles if I’d tried to go that, yes, fast. But it was nice to drive through a forest that I recognized as a forest. Definitely into the home zone.


Wild turkeys, just crossed the road in front of me. A harbinger of Thanksgiving? Not for them, of course. These are truly free range turkeys.

I took a slight detour into Beaverton, Oregon, looking for a branch of Powell’s Books, which I found thanks to my trusty GPS. Wasn’t interested in dealing with downtown Portland, and bonus, free parking in Beaverton. Really nice branch of the bookstore too, so what’s to apologize for? I wanted the book my book club was reading, because I was actually going to be back in Vancouver in time for the next meetup, and there was the foggiest chance I might find time to read it! Alas, only got it started.

I slept in Olympia, Washington, the last night of this particular adventure. I was in sight of home, could I suppose, have kept going, but it was getting dark, I was tired, and I don’t see particularly well at night. Hey, I’m old enough to be prudent! So tucking into bed one more night in a comfy motel room was just fine with me. And I had just enough food left in my cooler and grocery stash that I didn’t even need to blow any more cash on dinner, so felt quite nicely cocooned, watching some nonsense on tv my last night out.

Breakfast view from the hotel I stumbled on. The I-5 is visible, on the right, but it looks so peaceful.

Breakfast view from the hotel I stumbled on. The I-5 is visible, on the right, but it looks so peaceful.

And then enjoyed one of the few, good, included-breakfasts of my trip (I’m not generally much for white-flour pastries to get me going in the mornings, and motels do seem to rely rather heavily on white flour) and then it was the home stretch, through Tacoma and Seattle, certainly not the most relaxing of stretches. I’m glad I took the break in Olympia, because from there to around Everett, it’s busy busy roads, and not a relaxing drive. But after that it’s fine, and after one more fill-up of cheap gas in Blaine, I faced the border, with only three cars in front of me. Both border crossings, in and out, were simple and unstressed, like the old days when you were often just waved through. Didn’t have to explain myself much at all, which is always a relief. I always feel guilty at the border, and I never am even slightly guilty of anything. Some nascent paranoia I guess. The agent did want to know what was under the blanket in my trunk (which covered an embarrassing, but not illegal, mountain of suitcases, etc.) She said “just in case I had a body in there.” But she didn’t even get out of her booth (it was raining, welcome home, eh?) and so I just pulled the blanket off. No body, I was free to go.

And so I rolled up to my brother’s house, found no one at home but the place full of the smell of turkey roasting, and unloaded my car into his guest room, and I was as home as I can be until I find my own place. My brother was glad to see me, and I got a laugh out of him, about his timing, as I’d finished unloading before he came back.

I started from his house, and that’s where I call the trip finished. 18,622 kilometres altogether (11,571 miles); 10,888 kilometres (6,765 miles) in the States. And the only new sign of wear on my car was a crack in the windshield that I picked up on the last day in Ontario, and I got it fixed last week. Blink.

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